I heard some amazing start-up business ideas this year. So, if you are ready to start your business next year, consider these tips as you prepare.
Because starting a business is like my favorite Facebook status – It’s complicated.
And rather than share the traditional checklist like:
- Consider your legal structure
- Order business cards and secure your domain name
- Create an elevator pitch
I wanted to dive into the oft-neglected steps. These are the things that can trip up entrepreneurs if you don’t plan for them. I’ve heard all types of stories in my business plan classes this year. And I’ve taken notes when listening to successful entrepreneurs share their stories.
So take heed and start your business on a high note! Read below:
“Start a business” isn’t another action item on your calendar
Starting a business is NOTHING like any of your other activities. There is no specific plan that is going to lead you directly to the “Promised Land”.
You have to be willing to:
- Learn new skills outside of your comfort zone
- Be transparent about your strengths and weaknesses
- Unlearn skills that you really really love…but keep your business from growing
- And walk on the world’s most “unlinear” path when you are short on cash
But, it can be done.
Let me share one example I often highlight in my classes. I like giving attendees tough challenges in the beginning of the program. I want people to meet their “I can’t start this business” demons face to face. The sooner we meet them, the better.
A recent example was a Black Friday/Shop Small Business Saturday challenge. Most of the students didn’t have a website. No large email lists. No social media accounts established. They were still in the idea stage.
So I challenged them to create something and take part in the holiday retail season. The results? Epic. People got out of their comfort zone. They gained sales skills. Upped their tech knowledge. Flexed marketing muscles.
In the end, it didn’t matter if they made any money. They gained tremendous insights. Got past the idea stage into the testing stage. And learned more about their target markets.
I challenge you to get out of your comfort zone this holiday season. It doesn’t matter if you earn money or not. Consider an idea that will help you create a soft-launch for your business. You want to start learning about your people before you open your doors.
And when you run into the “challenges”, be willing to talk to a mentor, coach, or another friend who runs a business. Get advice. Otherwise, the pattern might be the very thing that keeps your business from growing.
Start dealing with your personal finances like a CEO
Have you seen the statistic about the common reasons that small businesses fail? Money is usually the #1 or #2 reason. The list never includes motivation or lack of good ideas.
So start dealing with your personal finances as if you are the CEO of a company.
This can be a hard task for many to swallow.
If your personal finances aren’t great, you have to deal with the problem areas:
- Not enough savings
- Poor credit standing
And even if your personal finances are in great shape, you might need to gain some skills like:
- Understanding business financial statements
- Options for how to increase cash flow in your business
- Mastering your sales game
Don’t wait until you officially open your business to learn these skills!
During the down time of the holidays, get a crash course on some of these topics:
- Get a bookkeeping system like QuickBooks. Watch the how-to videos during your down-time. Learn how to create invoices and set up your books. Create a few test transactions so you can be familiar when you start.
- Talk to your network and interview a few accountants/CPAs. You don’t have to hire anyone immediately and it’s good to identify some potentials.
- Look at sample income statements and cash flow statements. You may not have numbers to fill in. But it’s easier to master these statements now when the pressure is not as intense.
Stop waiting and start marketing and selling
There is always one student in my classes who delays sales as long as possible. They over focus on writing the business plan, getting the website created, and the business card printed. But, they delay making their first sales for as long as they can.
I love when people are prepared. But eventually, you need to stick your toe into the pool.
So start with friends and family. You can practice selling items that are not your final business idea so that you can get comfortable with your sales pitch.
Also consider starting here:
- Create a simple website for a friend and focus on the sales sections
- Practicing networking and sharing your pitch at holiday events
- Using social media as a business rather than just consuming content