In the United States, there has been an increase in the number of businesses and entrepreneurs over the past few years. According to a study by the Peterson Institute for International Economics, the number of business beginnings increased by 24% between 2019 and 2020, from 3.5 million to 4.4 million.
According to Harvard Business Review, the COVID-19 pandemic fueled this startup growth, as many entrepreneurs sought to address new consumer behaviors in industries such as online retail.
Today’s aspiring entrepreneurs seeking to launch new businesses know that it takes a lot to compete in this environment: entrepreneurship requires planning, strategy, and even risk-taking. This step-by-step guide will show you how to put your business idea into action, from developing a brand to creating a website.
1. Find a business idea
When starting a business, choose a business concept that will distinguish you apart from the competition. Consider, if you’re starting an apparel line, how you’ll narrow your focus: what products will you sell? Will it be eco-friendly or artisanal? After narrowing it down, you can consider potential business names or use a business name generator to stimulate your imagination.
In addition to discovering your competitive edge, consider what you truly enjoy doing. What concerns do you have a strong desire to solve? Does it reduce plastic straw waste? Stick to what you adore, are the most knowledgeable about, and believe the world needs.
In addition to being impassioned and determined, you should educate yourself on the subject. This could involve returning to school to earn a degree, enrolling in online classes, or conducting research on a favored blog.
2. Get to know your target audience
Prior to patting yourself on the back for a great concept, you should ensure that others are willing to pay for it. According to CBInsights’ 2021 analysis of 100+ startup failure post-mortems, a major factor for business failure is a lack of market demand.
Researching your audience will enable you to determine the potential for profit. In addition, you will be able to effectively market your solution to your clients because you will have a better grasp of their requirements.
Conduct market research and then compile a list of characteristics that define your target market: For instance, within what age spectrum do they fall? What interests do they have? Where can I find them? And so forth.
3. Test your idea
A trial period is essential for gauging potential customers’ interest in your product or service, gaining first-hand insight into how you can best serve them, and identifying areas for refinement. Consider this the initial step in selling your idea.
The more you get your idea into the hands of consumers, the more feedback you will receive, which you can then use to enhance your concept and raise awareness. For instance, you can distribute samples, convene focus groups, or even conduct one-on-one interviews. Your success depends on taking this feedback seriously.
4. Use a business plan template
Becoming a small business owner requires extensive planning, beginning with the selection of a form of entrepreneurship and continuing through the development and execution of a viable business plan.
Start in an organized manner with a business plan template that outlines the essential components of your business concept, including your mission statement, marketing strategy, and operations plan. This document will assist you in visualizing and achieving your objectives.
Also recommended is the creation of an executive summary or high-level overview of the business. When you need to communicate your business in a concise manner, such as when seeking associates or requesting funding, this report is essential.
5. Create a website
Every business requires a website, whether for online scheduling, e-commerce, or simply to direct organic search visitors to a landing page. You can get started by selecting a website template and modifying it to your specifications.
Consider the types of pages you’ll need for your professional website, including the Homepage, About Us page, and contact form. After selecting a template, you will need a free web hosting service to publish and maintain your website online. Choose a domain name, or online address, so that people can locate you online.
6. Create value in your market
Now that you have a tried-and-true product or service, a solid network, and brand promotion channels, it is time to decide how you will approach the market.
A well-defined go-to-market message will help your customers understand why they should choose your brand over the competition, whether it’s through the publication of pertinent thought leadership on social media or an elevator pitch that explains why your offering is superior.
7. Develop a strong brand
A consistent brand identity, such as Spotify’s distinctive green and black color scheme or Dove’s subtle “real beauty” slogan, aids in establishing brand recognition and consumer trust over time. It includes your fundamental values, language, employees, and clients. Aesthetically, it includes your brand’s colors, fonts, and logo, among other elements.
Jason Feifer, the editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur, has his own side venture. His website, podcast, newsletter, and recently released book are all devoted to instructing fellow entrepreneurs on how to be more change-resistant. Both his podcast and novel are titled Build for Tomorrow. Similarly, he decorates his website with the same font and color scheme as his logo.
8. Plan your finances
Planning your company’s finances may not be the most thrilling activity, but it is a necessary one. Begin by gaining a thorough understanding of the startup costs. What do you require? Examine the prices of raw materials and production, supplies, employing employees, advertising, office space, etc.
As a beginner, it is probable that you will require assistance; therefore, you should keep your expenses as low as possible to allow for external consulting. Once you have a decent idea of the amount of funding you’ll need, assess your financial situation. How much do you intend to invest in yourself? If you are seeking investors, having some of your own money invested will increase their willingness to support you.
Once you have the capital, you should establish a separate bank account to track your income and expenses. It will expedite accounting and provide useful data for business expansion planning.
9. Build your network
Even if you choose not to have companions, business is never a solitary endeavor. Having knowledgeable and experienced mentors will assist you in gaining a deeper understanding of your market, capitalizing on opportunities, and avoiding costly errors.
Attend relevant networking events, speaker series, festivals, and expos to locate this support system. In addition, you can conduct your own networking events and create an online forum community.
10. Hire a great partner
Flying solo is wonderful, but a supportive partner will help you identify challenges and opportunities you might have overlooked otherwise.
Consider the qualities you desire in a partner and the people you know who possess them when searching for one. Have a semi-planned business proposal (such as your executive summary) when you reach out to a potential partner (for example).
Even if you are not yet hiring a full team, your first hire can establish the tone for your company culture — the shared vision, norms, and values shared by your employees. Such foresight can determine the future success of your business, as it ensures that your entire team is in harmony.
The journey to becoming an entrepreneur involves a series of crucial steps that pave the way for success in the dynamic world of business. It all starts with self-assessment, understanding our passions and strengths to identify the right business idea.
Through thorough market research, we validate our concept, recognizing opportunities and potential challenges. Crafting a well-thought-out business plan becomes the roadmap guiding us toward our goals while securing adequate funding ensures we have the resources needed to bring our vision to life. As we move forward, compliance with legal requirements and building a skilled team lay the foundation for a sustainable venture. Developing a remarkable product or service, combined with effective marketing and sales strategies, helps us stand out in a competitive landscape.
Along the way, resilience and adaptability are paramount, as we learn from failures and navigate through obstacles. Emphasizing customer satisfaction fosters loyalty and positive word-of-mouth, while continuous learning sharpens our entrepreneurial acumen. Finally, when the time is right, scaling the business allows us to seize new opportunities and expand our impact. In the end, the path to entrepreneurship may differ for each individual, but these fundamental steps serve as a solid framework for embarking on the exciting and rewarding journey of entrepreneurship.
1. What is the first step to becoming an entrepreneur?
The first step to becoming an entrepreneur is self-assessment. This involves understanding your passions, skills, and areas of expertise to identify a business idea that aligns with your interests. Assessing your strengths and weaknesses will help you choose a venture that plays to your strengths and gives you a competitive advantage in the market.
2. Why is market research essential in the entrepreneurial journey?
Market research is crucial because it allows aspiring entrepreneurs to gather valuable insights about their target market, industry trends, and competitors. By conducting thorough market research, you can validate your business idea, identify potential opportunities, understand customer needs, and gauge the demand for your product or service. This information forms the basis for creating a successful business plan and positioning your venture effectively in the market.
3. How important is building a skilled team in entrepreneurship?
Building a skilled team is vital for the success of any entrepreneurial venture. As an entrepreneur, you cannot do everything alone, and a team with complementary skills and expertise will help execute your business plan effectively. A cohesive team can bring fresh perspectives, innovation, and collective problem-solving abilities, making your business more robust and adaptable to challenges. Surrounding yourself with talented individuals who share your vision and values can lead to a more productive and motivated work environment, ultimately contributing to the growth and success of your business.