The most difficult part about starting a business is actually starting it. It is not uncommon to find people caught up dreaming about what a success their intended venture will be rather than ploughing the ground needful for a proper launch. On the other hand, some are afraid to start because of the fear of failure. Having been around the business milieu for a good number of years where I have started and co-founded a couple of businesses these are my candid ten points to take home for anyone who wants to start, or just started a business, or is looking to grow a business.
1. Know the power of Branding
Branding is the process of creating a strong, positive perception of a company, its products or services in the customer’s mind. A good brand gives you a clear understanding of your target persona and how to reach out to them. It impresses a memorable impression on consumers and allows your customers and clients to know what to expect from your company. It is a way of distinguishing yourself from the competitors. The importance of branding for any and every business cannot be overemphasized.
2. Know your Competition and Market
Knowing your competition helps you to know what differentiates your product or service, and brand from that of your competitors. It helps you to build sales and loyal customers; it helps you to discover opportunities and gaps in the market. A business created in an area where there is already existing competition has an already ploughed ground to launch on. The market is large; find your niche and focus on it.
3. Know which Legal Structure works for your type of Business
There are different legal structures that work for different businesses. It is important to seek consulting advice and know all the structures available and which one you will go for and why. Have an understanding of the benefits and limitations of what you are choosing and make that decision with the long-term goal of your business in mind because it is not that easy to navigate from one to the other once registered. Examples of legal structures include sole proprietorship, Limited Liability Company, or corporation. Know which corporate law (e.g. OHADA) the country in which you intend to do business operates under, and the different structures available. In as much as the internet is very useful for research, for this particular aspect it is important to leverage consulting services to give you the realities on ground. You can schedule a consultation with us below, to guide you in making this choice.
4. Know the power of Mentorship
There are many cancers that can destroy a business no matter how good the idea is. A bad leader will crumble it before it even gets the opportunity to grow. Being unapproachable, inaccessible, and the absence of good counsel are some of such cancers. Mentorship helps you to understand the importance of accountability, navigate many challenges, build a strong network, serves as an avenue for good counsel, rebuke, and to develop a teachable spirit. If you want to last long in business and go far, get for yourself a business mentor not just an icon you admire but someone with whom you can build a mentor-mentee relationship.
5. Have a Clear Business Model
Cash is the lifeblood of any business; having a good handle over cash flow is very important. Before venturing into any business have a plan on how cash will flow in and know what will take cash out of the business. Cash inflow could be gotten from subscriptions, sales, third party affiliations and so on while cash outflow could spring from cost of raw materials, salaries of employees, and rents, just to name a few. Note that the particular items in either of these categories will be dependent on the type of business and other parameters. A business is not charity; there should be a clear plan on how it will make money that will keep it alive. A business that cannot make money will die and the plan should not be a thought, it should be well documented and versioned to give room for updating.
6. Start Small and Scale
It is good to dream big but very important to start small. Starting small helps you to master your business, its processes and your customers well. It requires less energy, less financial resources and makes damage control minimal. In some cases, starting small may mean building and testing your product to ensure that it is fit for the market instead of producing something that customers don’t like in a large quantity. The key to succeeding at this stage is gathering customer feedback and polishing your product or service. Leveraging the design thinking process can be very helpful in providing goods and services that users love:
Every product, feature, or service that constantly goes through this process has a tendency to last long in the market.
7. Learn Skills
It is near impossible to start and grow a business in your comfort zone. A successful business will stretch you and demand much more than you normally expect. It is therefore very important to pay attention to building skills and engaging in capacity enhancement programs. A business automatically puts you in the position of leadership as either a vision bearer or a team manager. Some of such skills include sales, interpersonal skills, customer care, time management, team management, creativity, and basic knowledge of business financial statements (e.g. cash flow statements, income statements).
8. Mistakes are inevitable
No matter how well you plan, mistakes are inevitable. There are mistakes that will be made because of ignorance and others that will be made because of human weaknesses. In the face of such eventualities, wake up, dust yourself, learn from the mistake and salvage what you can and move on. In business there is no time for pity partying, else you will lose customers.
9. Read as many Books as possible
Books are now available in almost all formats; ranging from hard covers, soft copies, audiobooks etc. Be it a book of any format, a podcast, a journal or a newsletter, having a reading list is necessary for every intended businessperson in this 21st century. Invest in your personal library. It does not just help you to have a mastery of the domain in which you want to engage in, it also gives you balance and helps you to connect with other great minds. Here’s how you can read 50 books in a year like the top 1%.
10. There is no such a thing as overnight success
It is commonly said that no matter how prepared a pregnant woman is for delivery, the baby will still stay in the womb for nine months. In the same light success takes time. Do not lose yourself in the process, live and enjoy the journey while learning. It takes time to build a business, follow the process and avoid deadly shortcuts that can bite you in the leg in the future. I encourage you to learn how to pursue your dreams the right way to guarantee success.
Never you go alone, understand the place of a support system in starting a business. The journey can have bumps that can be depressing. There will be many sleepless nights and unreasonable problems that will embrace you. Your support system could be your family, team, friends or members of a close community. If you intend to start up with family, friends or other partners, have a clearly signed agreement from the beginning to avoid future huddles. With that said, we hope you get on the right path to starting your business and we wish you all the best. If you have other ideas which were useful to you while starting your business, please do well to drop them in the comment section. Thank you for reading and until next time, BESTech remains your BEST bet.