Looking for a startup cheat sheet to help get your business going without wasting a lot of time? It’s undeniable that launching a business can be intimidating, but once you stop trying to overthink it, and you get down to the nuts and bolts, it can be pretty liberating. In that spirit, we’ve put together some tips on how to get your business going without spending a lot of time playing the waiting game. Here goes:
One: Start With You.
Your likes, your wants, and your identity, are all essential to figuring out what you want to do with your business. This goes beyond saying, “My name is so-and-so, I like candy, and I want a new car.”
No, you’ll have to drill deeper for answers that will actually help you define your business. Instead of sticking with the trivialities, focus on your passions. Unless candy is a passion to the extent of making and marketing your own, that’s probably not a great idea for a business.
Calling on past work experience, your knowledge base, and your answer to the question, “What would I do with my time if I had all the money I needed and didn’t want to be bored?” will get you where you need to be.
Two: Focus On Product.
Out of your interests and ability, a product or service will emerge that you can bring to the masses. Inherently, this product or service will take on a basic function through its state of being. In other words, a blender isn’t a blender if it doesn’t blend. Through its very creation, it has a function.
The same could be said of services. If you build websites, then you’re able to charge for it based on the skills and training you’ve developed over time. Because of those skills and training, you have a basic function that you can then make available to people in need.
Once the product/service is defined, it’s time to determine what it will cost you, and what you will charge for it. For products, you may have outside materials that need to be factored in to the price, and the price will need to be higher than what it costs you if you hope to stay in business for any length of time.
At the same time, you’ll need to know if there are any comparable products on the market, or if you are creating a new market. If there are comparable products, pay attention to what other businesses are charging. This gives you a good idea of what the market will allow.
When it comes to services, your cost is time and the price is whatever people are willing to pay. Prices can fluctuate more on services, particularly because you may have finite time and resources and thus, unable to take work from everyone who needs it.
If this is the case, you’re in a good place because you can charge more for your time. If you have no prospects, lower pricing might be a more attractive option until you can build up a client base.
Three: Find Your Customers.
While this is listed as number three, it’s important to note that you shouldn’t think of these tips as a progression. In other words, streams will cross, and you’ll need to let them.
That means developing an understanding and an empathy for your target customers while you are defining the product or service and building towards launch.
What you learn about your customers (or potential customers) will, and should, influence the development of your business. After all, if a business launches and there are no customers there to support it, is it really a business?
Answer: No — not for very long anyway.
So as you go, answer the question of why your customers want what you’re offering in the first place. Then, determine where and when they can find it and how you’ll deliver it to them.
For more startup advice, here are five additional tips from Sara Blakely, the billionaire founder of Spanx:
Business startups may also be privy to local, state, and/or federal rules and regulations. This cannot be dismissed when you’re going through the three stages listed above. It’s part of market research and product development (Tip Two). While some businesses will take longer to launch than others, focusing on the tips with this startup cheat sheet will help you make it to the end with a business that’s ready to go.[Image via Flickr Creative Commons]