THE KEY ELEMENTS
OF INSPIRED BUSINESS
In the beginning
Once we have the passion and the dream, it’s about putting our ideas into action. A great way to start transforming an idea into reality is to think of it as a ‘5 part process’. It doesn’t matter if you are running a solo venture, lifestyle business or a billion dollar brand. Run through these statements and see if they apply to your idea - take any one away, and you don’t have a business:
Creates and delivers a product or service of value
That other people want or need
At a price they are willing to pay
In a way that satisfies the customer’s needs and expectations
So that the business brings in sufficient profit to make it worthwhile that the owners continue operation.
Now for the practicalities - let’s look at the 6 key areas involved in setting up and running a successful business:
Passion: it’s like fuel in a business, it will keep driving the car for you through the challenging times. Without passion and a vision of how we see our success, it’s almost impossible to feel it or believe it. Most people I talk to who are struggling in a start-up either don’t have a vision or they have lost sight of their vision.
Believe in yourself - a business doesn’t have to mean building a multi-million dollar company. It may be you want to turn a passion into a lifestyle. Have a think about this because it’s part of the vision. Do you want more time with family or are you prepared to work seven days a week to create a large business you can sell?
Educate yourself. You don’t need a college degree, but you do need to be aware of the risks and realities of business ownership. While it’s important to stay employed while you build your business, it’s actually easier to create security than rely on someone else. Think about the skills you might need that you might need to improve.
Set goals. When we achieve something we’ve decided we want to do, it feels good. It reinforces to us that we should go on. However, remember to set short term and long term goals for your new venture. If you only set longer term goals they will sometimes feel unachievable. Also, set daily goals and tasks to complete those.
Seek resources and mentoring. Join a small-business development centre and find local resources to help you succeed. Start developing great habits right from the start. Find experienced entrepreneurs who can help you with the remaining steps, offering insight and guidance. It’s often the entrepreneurs who have failed and had to start again that will provide the most valuable insights and mentoring.
Become a thought leader. Establish yourself as an authority by speaking, writing articles and attending relevant conferences and events. Learn more about your industry and reach out to competitors.
After your preliminarily research your idea, brainstorm to work out the potential flaws and key advantages, by asking yourself these questions:
Does it solve a problem for people?
Who are your competitors and how can this work for you and against you
Does it fill a gap and service a need in the market?
Will it be easy difficult to market and reach your customer?
Remember a successful business in the same industry doesn’t mean there is not room for you. (Especially if that business could be doing a better job)
If your idea involves manufacturing a product, where will you do this? How competitive is the market for the product and how will you stand out from your competitors?
Create a test product or service. Call it a prototype if you want. Create a sample if you haven’t already. You can trial it on the internet, do a workshop and see what interest there is in your product and service.
Start a business plan. I suggest create a folder called My Miracle and then as you progress, create new folders for marketing and other aspects of your business. In fact you can create 6 folders with the headings we have created here. Working in this way helps you stay organised.
Determine your target market. Not everyone will be your target customer. Finding a niche or smaller market doesn’t limit you, it simply means it can be easier to target the customer who feel you product or service solves their problem, want or need.
Decide on a legal structure for your business. Every business structure has advantages and disadvantages. Think carefully about what will work best. Consult with a business solicitor and an accountant in setting up your business structure.
Get a tax ID. Don’t forget about your tax responsibilities.
Register your business name. It’s a simple step, but a necessary one.
Register for state and local taxes. Don’t neglect this financial step.
Obtain any necessary permits or licenses to operate your business. Your business may require additional legal registrations.
Apply for business insurance.
-What other legal advice do I need?
-Do I need to protect my name and what is referred to as Intellectual property?
-Include development plan in your business plan. Come up with a growth plan. How do you expect to scale in the first year? What about years two and three? Your mentor can help you with this too.
-Evaluate your progress thus far, and adjust your business plan. Determine where you are in contrast to where you thought you’d be, and think about what expectations you had that were wrong. Revisit your business plan and adjust it to reflect your current situation and understandings. Don’t just place your business plan in the drawer and let it gather dust. It will be your guide, your GPS and help you keep the miracle you are creating, real.
-Plan to remove yourself from the business so instead of working in it you are working on it and ensuring its development and growth.
- Every business is unique, so yours may not perfectly adhere to the formula. Use these steps as a loose guideline for the course of your business’ development, and thrust yourself into the process as much as you can.
Download the Think Miracle Business Template-We have created an extensive template for you to use as a start-up. It’s an important document if you are seeking capital from investors and to learn to understand the process and operation of a business as an entrepreneur.
Cash flow can be the demise of even the best businesses and for this reasons having a good accountant is essential.
Come up with an operational and financial model. How much are you going to charge? How much will it cost to run the business? How profitable can you be? I suggest seeking the help of an accountant or a mentor that can guide you with this task.
Determine what amount of capital you need to start. Think about the people, resources and capital you need, and have both an “ideal” and “minimum” range.
Secure capital. Withdraw savings, borrow from friends, seek funding or set up a line of credit with a bank - or some combination of these. If you feel you have the makings of a great business, with a solid business and sales and marketing plan you can pitch to an investor. They will provide capital in return for a share in your company. Remember, 60% of a very profitable business is far better than 0% of a business that’s losing money. Investors can usually provide input and guidance to help you on your way.
Ensure your cash flow remains positive, with proper safety measures. Cash can kill an otherwise profitable business. You must understand your fixed and variable expenses and profit and loss projections. When do you expect to begin to break even in your start-up?
Objectively look at the risk in your new business. Determine how much you stand to lose if the company goes under and if this was to happen, are you prepared to start over? The clearer you are in building the foundations, the more likely you are in succeeding.
Implement profit and loss and balance sheets and have regular meetings with your accountant.
Staffing. Will your business or idea require you to have staff in the future? What help will you need in setting you your business.
Look at fixed and variable costs. Fixed costs are those that are pretty much the same every month. Variable costs are those which are not continual but need to be accounted for. Minimise fixed costs such as an office if you have the type of business that enables you to work from home.
Also, if you're ready, quit your current job. If everything looks good, pull the trigger and invest yourself full-time in your enterprise. However if your finances are not stable, perhaps you will need to work longer and harder until you can afford to give up a stable income.
-Create a sales and marketing plan. This is so important because sales and marketing are what will drive your business to grow. If you have secured investment make sure you have allowed sufficient in this area
-Establish a unique brand. Find out what makes your business unique, and develop a brand around it. How does it differ from your competitors and how can you make it stand out. Through packaging, quality, branding or customer service strategies. Look at Uber? Uber was not the first in the area of innovative transport; they followed other market leaders however they branded and stood out and became market leaders. Remember to protect your brand name by registering once you have decided you definitely want to start your business.
-Start building a personal brand. While you’re at it, build a personal brand for yourself. A personal brand means people associate your name with certain products and services, a little like Steve Jobs and Apple.
-Scout for potential clients. Keep your eyes peeled for individuals and businesses that might buy from you and the earlier the better. Try to get at least one client before investing a dime.
-Establish key sellers (vendors) and partners. Find contractors, vendors and suppliers to help your business succeed. Do this research early in your business plan and make phone calls and build relationships.
-Find at least one dependable, long-term client/customer. Prioritise getting at least one sure-fire long-term client.
-Start selling. Go out and sell the heck out of your service and products.
-Launch a website. As soon as you can, establish an online presence.
-Outline and begin a digital marketing campaign. Digital marketing is cheap, easy, and effective. SEO, content marketing, and social media are good places to start.
-Network everywhere you go. Make it a point to meet people. You never know who could be a new client or employee. Despite this day and age of social media, relationships are still really important to business success.
-Use promotions and discounts to attract new customers. Profitability is not as important as recognition in your early stages.
-Learn from customer feedback and launch a second iteration of your products or services. Make tweaks to your offerings.
-Scale your sales strategy. Do more to sell more.
-Scale your marketing strategy. Reach further to increase your customer base.
-Sales targets. Set monthly sales targets before you even start selling. Think about what’s possible and by what percentage would you like your sales to increase each month? What will you need to do to ensure this happens? Ultimately selling the product or service you have is your business and how you make money! Being busy isn’t creating a busy unless you are making money. Your day should always involve a significant amount of time on ROI (Return on Investment).
PRODUCTION / PURCHASING
ADMIN / ACCOUNT
Create operations model. Who and what do you need to maintain production or to provide services and tasks you can't do yourself?
Find your key locations. Your office location, operations HQ and related issues are important decisions to make. Will you start your business from home? Remember minimising these expenses until it’s necessary to have an office can really help ensure the business doesn’t buckle under ongoing costs. Steve Jobs started in a garage!!
If you feel you will end up employing staff, learn and apply your employer responsibilities. You’ll have to offer certain benefits, conditions and withholdings.
Hire the bare minimum if you need employees to get started and ensure you have sufficient funds and capital to pay them if your business isn’t going to make money for the first couple of years.
Create a human resource plan and company culture. Create guidelines, and hire people who will adhere to them. Look for people who share your passion for your product or service.
Hire more employees if necessary. When you’re ready, expand the team.
Invest in infrastructural improvements. Improve whatever you can afford to improve to make your customers happier.
Tweak your operations to become more efficient. No operation plan is perfect. Find ways to improve yours.
Please contact us at thinkmiracle if you would like mentoring in starting your business.