According to the article “Is 2017 The Year You Start Your Dream Business?” by Melinda Emerson and featured on The Huffington Post’s website, if you resolve to make this year the year you start your business, then after you develop a detailed plan, fear will no longer be your biggest concern. Rather, Emerson states, finding the time and money to make your business successful will be your top priorities. As such, Emerson lays out seven aspects of planning your startup to make sure your new business succeeds:
- Making a life plan. Make a list of your personal and professional goals before you go about planning your startup. Determine how much money you need to live the lifestyle you and your family want because once you launch your business, you need it to have that income. After you have a business concept in mind, consider whether you have the sacrificial attitude, as well as the time, capital and discipline to see it through.
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- Determining finances. Since banks typically do not loan to startups, you’ll be funding this venture largely by yourself. Create a budget and see where you can eliminate expenses. Make sure you have no credit card debt and that your credit score is over 700. If you live in a dual-income household, begin living off one salary and saving the other; if you are the sole income-provider, begin saving about 30 to 40 percent of every paycheck. Emerson says that you will need emergency savings, at least 12 months of living expenses and your business’ first year of capital in order to launch your startup.
- Creating a revenue model. Once you have a business idea, determine how you will generate revenue. Examine and test out the market to see if customers are willing you pay for your new service. Study the competition, and determine your online strategy.
- Finding a target audience. Targeting everyone for your niche audience is a bad business strategy. Instead, stand out from the competition by determining your specific market. For instance, do you need 100 low-income customers or three high-income customers? Create a detailed customer profile whose problems you can solve with your service or product.
- Crafting an online strategy. Websites are often a customer’s first point of contact with a business nowadays, so you need to make sure to offer a great online experience as well as a mobile-friendly one. Create five keywords for your business and pepper them across your website copy. Your website layout should be easy to navigate and not cluttered. In addition, make sure each page has a call to action and that your contact information is easy to find (always include a phone number). You can create a free offer of some sort online to collect email addresses. Then, use the two social media accounts that your customers spend the most time with.
- Drafting a business plan. Take the time to write a thoroughly detailed business plan. Not only are there online resources and software programs that can help you craft a plan, but Emerson also suggests taking a business plan course at a local community college or small business development center.
- Working on the side. Begin working on the basics of your business before quitting your job. Learn more about how to run a business or about the industry before diving in. According to Emerson, “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.”
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