It's January, the start of a new year and new hope to achieve your goals. I want you to get things started off right. If you've been dreaming for years about starting a small-business, its time to launch the plan NOW.....You are fearful about walking away from your "corporate gig" to launch a new business because all you have is a back of a napkin plan and little cash on hand, but now hear this: You are one idea away from being able to do anything you want.
Let's resolve to build your dream business in 2017. When you develop a strong plan, your top issues will be finding the time and coming up with the money--not fear. If you are ready to create your business, here are seven things you must put in place up front to succeed as your own boss.
1. Develop a Life Plan
Figure out what you want out of life, by developing a life plan. Get clear about your personal and professional goals before you invest the time to write a business plan. Determine how much money you need to make to be happy. You want the business you are launching to give you the lifestyle you want for you and your family. Once you have a solid business concept determine whether or not you have enough of a sacrificial attitude to build a business. Then be honest with yourself to figure out if you have the time, money, and discipline to turn that idea into a solid business. Keep in mind it could three to four years before you see daylight along this journey.
2. Focus on Your Finances
The money to start your business will come from your right of left pocket. Banks typically do not loan money to start-ups. So you need to get a plan to pull together the money to launch your business. Create a budget and review your monthly expenses looking for areas to cut. Eliminate all credit card debt. Work on getting your credit score up above 700. If you are married, start living on one salary and saving the other one. If you are single, start saving 30-40% of every paycheck. You'll need emergency savings, at least 12 months of household living expenses and the first year of start-up capital to launch the business. Start saving now!
3. Define Your Revenue Model
Once you think you have a business idea, determine how you will make money. Test the marketplace to see if there's a paying customer for your product or service. Look at the competition and define how you will compete online. Use social media to get instant feedback on the product, packaging, and pricing. Define your revenue model. Will you be direct sells network like Lularoe, doing home shows like Avon, strictly selling e-commerce through a marketplace like amazon or establishing a retail location?
4. Determine Your Niche
You can niche to get riche. People want to hire specialists. Serving everyone is a bad business model. You'll want to stand out in the marketplace by serving a particular niche customer. My consulting firm Quintessence Group only works with Fortune 1000 companies who target small business customers. You need to become that specific about your best target customers. Think about if you need 100 customers or just three large customers. Develop a detailed customer profile and specialize in solving a business problem.
5. Build an Online Strategy
Your website will often be your first touch point with potential customers, so you need to make sure visitors have a great experience--- especially from a mobile device. Know your 5 best keywords and use them in the copy on your promotional pages. Make sure your website layout is simple and gives calls to action on every page. Make your contact information is easy to find, and be sure to post a phone number. No one wants to think too hard about how to do business with you. Make sure you have an irresistible free offer on your site to capture e-mail addresses. Use an email marketing program such as Aweber or Infusionsoft to develop nurture programs through email to convert visitors into customers. Then build your social media footprint using the best two social accounts where your customers spend time online.
6. Do invest in a Business Plan
You need to know how your business is going to work, so its best take the time to write a plan. I suggest you start with looking at the website bplans.com for sample business plans, then get some business plan software such as enloop.com and the then take a business plan course at the local community college or small business development center, so that you get really finish the financial projections for your plan. Start with the marketing plan first and then if that makes sense, finish the plan.
7. Become a Side Hustler First
Become a side hustler first before you jump all the way out of corporate America. It takes 12-18 months before a small business starts to break even, let alone replace your corporate salary, so learn your early business lessons while the paychecks are still rolling. It's much easier to be strategic about your business when you're not panicked about where your next check is coming from.
If starting a business is on your bucket list this year, let me help accomplish this one resolution. My bestselling book Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months, was designed to help make the transition from employment to entrepreneurship. I've laid out everything you need to do, month-by-month, to launch your dream business. Read it, and let me know if I can help you live your best life as an entrepreneur. It's not an easy journey being a small business owner. I've got 17 years of battle scars to prove it. But if you make a plan and then work your plan, if you listen carefully to your customers and employees and most importantly if you learn quickly from your mistakes your business will be amazing. Happy New Year. Let's get it done this year.
This article was originally published as New Year, New Resolve on www.succeedasyourownboss.com