Are you just starting on a new trip and thinking about what you need for launching a successful business? Do you want to ensure right from the start that you consider all the important aspects which can secure the success of your business?
From the best way you should promote your business products or services, to the directions in which you want your business to evolve in 3, 5 or 10 years, there are a lot of things you should consider for launching a successful business from the very beginning.
In this article we come to your aid with some important thoughts from Ollie Collard, advisor at Virgin StartUp and founder of Enterprise Orchard, an incubator that supports startups in building sustainable and profitable businesses.
7 things for launching a successful business:
1. Limit financial risks and costs, at least in the beginning
Before starting a business, it is first of all important to make some decisions about the finances you dispose of at that time. This includes both your business finances and your personal finances. Thus, the first thing you should consider is the possibilities at your disposal to reduce any unnecessary financial commitments. That is, expenses that are not useful to you.
Specifically, one thing you can do is set a “minimum living wage”. Think about the minimum income you need in the first years of your business and how you will produce it. Will you work as a full-time employee in the first years, and at the same time you will launch your successful business? Or maybe you can afford to work only part-time so you can better focus on business development? Or are you going to go “all in” and just do business? Put all these details in writing and plan your finances well.
Ollie Collard, founder of Enterprise Orchard, recommends writing your “survival budget” in this regard. This can help you better clarify in your mind all the important aspects related to your personal finances and those of the company. He says it can be really helpful to even use a budget template and a planning calendar, where you should put in writing how you will make the transition to your full-time involvement in the business from your current employment, if the case.
2. Put in writing a plan and a vision for your business
You can’t expect success with your business if you don’t plan in as much detail as possible. A well-designed business plan plays the important role of a map or a GPS throughout the growth journey of your business. It can help you show the direction your business is heading over time, and what are the adjustments you can make along the way for achieving full success.
It is important that the plan describes at least the following aspects:
- your business model (how you will generate the income you want and what operations you need to implement for this purpose);
- a cash flow forecast for a period of at least two years;
- also, set some important long-term concrete goals to keep you connected and motivated.
Studies have shown that entrepreneurs with a solid business plan have much lower failure rates than the rest. At the same time, planning will give you much more confidence and will help you become aware of all the strengths (or weaknesses) of your business. Including any development scenarios, that you could not have predicted otherwise.
At the same time, build a clear vision and know your “why”. That is the reason why you want to do what you set out to do. This “why” will have to breathe through every pore of your business. It will be your northern star who will guide and motivate you in your daily activity, beyond the financial benefits of the business.
In Simon Sinek’s words, “always start with why”. In this process it is important to really understand why you are launching your business. Make sure you analyze whether the business serves one of your personal “why” or a marketplace “why”. If your why is focused on meeting a need in the marketplace, the purpose of your business will always be larger than a business that is designed to serve a personal need.
3. Study and get to know your (potential) customers
Collard also recommends that you try to analyze and understand the lives of your target customers in the deepest way possible. Identify the problems they have, the habits, their daily routines, and what is their vision of the world around them. All these details that at first glance seem insignificant. They will help you truly understand what your customers appreciate and what you can offer them. These are the details that will help you in time to differentiate yourself from the competition and to develop a successful business.
Collard even recommends that we write a large list of all customer issues and analyze it constantly. He recommends to identify 3-4 types of problems on which to focus your efforts with the business.
“The more you know about your customers, the more your message will resonate with what they want. Therefore, the less you will have to invest in marketing efforts for the company”, says Collard.
4. Get to know yourself
It may sound like a cliché. But getting to know yourself is just as important as getting to know your customers when you start a business. When you have important decisions to make in your business, your biggest opponent will be yourself. That is why it is strategically important for the company to know you as well as possible. More exactly, try to better understand your personal motivations, automatic thinking patterns and trends in decisions. Especially in stressful situations.
Also, constantly remember that your value as a man does not depend on the success or failure of your business. This will help you in not allowing the results of your business to consume your personal energy.
To get to know yourself better, what you can do is try a few personality tests, such as the Myers Briggs test or the DISC profile test.
Then, what you can do is look for a mentor who can help you in your development, guide you and tell you about his own experiences. Having a mentor with much more experience than you is invaluable in the world of startups.
Such a person can help you make better strategic decisions, achieve your goals easier and faster, and open certain doors for you.
5. Sell your business before you build it
The idea that “if you get to work and do it, customers will come in the end” doesn’t work that much for start-ups. It is important to test beforehand if people really want to buy your products or services. How can you do that? There are several types of ways, obviously depending on the nature of your products.
The most common are: market research, surveys, or actual testing on a small sample of potential customers. Also, what you can do is find ways to get sign-ups, pre-sales, or any form of pre-financial commitment from customers, if possible. This will be proof that there is demand for your products.
A good option, which at the same time can bring you additional financing in the company, is crowdfunding. There are many online platforms that can make it easier for you to finance your business through crowdfunding, and examples of such businesses that have attracted substantial funding are everywhere. Crowdfunding is a strategy that help you on both sides: testing the products on potential customers, and getting necessary funding for the business.
6. Develop relationships with other startup founders and the business environment
There are so many other people starting businesses today. Some may even be similar to yours. And guess what? They face the same challenges as you do. “Get to know them and they could be very useful for your business!”, says Ollie Collard. Peer learning can double your company’s profitability and significantly accelerate its development.
Today there are so many business communities where you can access support. In such communities you can find exactly the help you need among business consultants or founders who have gone through the same problems. Sign up for them, go to the events they organize, and you will find out for yourself if they can be useful to you or not.
7. Train your patience, perseverance and the right mindset
It takes time for launching a successful business. Sometimes we can’t even imagine how long it takes for our business project to become mature and truly profitable. We can’t expect success overnight.
Building a business requires time, courage and determination. Thus, developing the right mindset can be one of your biggest strengths in this journey. It is necessary to learn to feel comfortable with the uncomfortable.
When you set out, you need to have a sincere conversation with yourself and give honest answers to important questions, such as: Do I really have the time, passion, and pain tolerance to launch a startup? Because if you do not have these qualities, entrepreneurship will eat you alive. This is not a regular job from 9:00 to 17:00. Sometimes things can get very uncomfortable, so you need to be willing to invest the necessary time, make uncomfortable decisions, and give your best.