12 Most Overlooked Essential First Steps For Starting A Business
In my opinion entrepreneurship is the path to freedom and if I could talk everyone into it I would. However, it’s not for everyone and many of those who do attempt to build a business do so with their blinders on—and overlook some of the most basic first steps for starting a business. Hint—it’s not what you think.
1. Ask yourself, “What do I want out of life?”
You’re business is a means for achieving what you want out of life. To build a business that truly helps you, you need to know what you want for yourself big picture-wise.
2. Define your values
Come up with 5-10 core values that dictate everything you do. These act as the foundation for your company culture, marketing, human resources, and other elements of your business.
3. Define your vision
Your vision is your unfettered utopian view of the world. If the world is finally perfect what would it look like to you? Would it be free of poverty? Would it be filled with happy people, art, music, or cheese whiz? This is the high-level ideal that will drive everything you do.
4. Define your mission
You mission states exactly how your company will achieve your world vision. Post it along with your vision and values someplace where you can see it every day.
5. Get real about your strengths and weaknesses
Knowing what you can and can’t do helps you identify the types of people you need to bring on board and when so you can successfully build your business.
6. Decide what you want you company culture to look like
Too often company culture is something that either happens accidentally or without the company realizing it. You need to decide what kind of experience you want employees, customers, vendors, and community members to have with your company. This will dictate so many of your actions from how you hire to where you do business.
7. Define the market you want to serve
Your business should serve a very specific person. Boil down their likes, interests, where they live, what they do and come up with a visual representation of your target market. You can always add markets later.
8. Talk to your market
Too often business wait until after they’ve opened to start learning about their customer, which means they often miss the boat when it comes to creating a product or service that truly meets the needs of their target customer. Interview 20-40 people in your target market before you build anything.
9. Build a power team
Start gathering a group of trusted advisors and mentors who can help you navigate and give you objective feedback as you build your business. You don’t need every slot filled right off the bat, but at least a few objective minds to bounce ideas off of. Our team will grow over time.
10. Determine your minimum viable product
With your customer and power team feedback you can hone in on the key product or service that will get your venture off the ground. Keep it simple, and focus only on the thing that will start generating revenue the fastest and with the least cost. You can add other products and services as your company grows.
11. Create a plan
Build out a strategic plan and a bare bones business plan. The planning tool from Lean Canvas (www.leancanvas.com) is a fantastic tool that helps you create a one-page business plan. The one page acts as a snapshot that lets you quickly compare business models, identify weaknesses, and make changes.
12. Remind yourself why you are starting this business and what it’s supposed to do for you
Did you start a business so you could travel more, be more available for family, or make a difference for a particular cause? It’s easy to get caught up in the daily tasks, opportunities, and chasing down leads. Don’t loose sight of why you started in the first place. It’s what matters most.
Your business has the ability to do great things for you and your community. The ones who fail are the ones who get distracted, who jump in for the wrong reasons, or who never define their purpose. Stay focused and don’t compromise on your values. In my opinion its the only way to do business.
Featured image courtesy of pobre.ch licensed via creative commons.