Starting a business is no walk in the park. It takes every ounce of commitment you can muster. Most businesses fail within the first year; and the vast majority are gone within the first five. Yet, if you can push through and build a successful business, the rewards are enormous.
How can you set yourself up for success right from the get-go? Here are seven things you should do before you even get started.
#1: Talk to Industry Pros
Find as many veterans as you can in your industry. Talk to them about what it’s like in the industry. What pitfalls do beginners make? What should you know before you get started? The know-how and real world experience they have can’t be understated.
If you don’t have connections, try just walking through the front door. Or picking up the phone and calling.
#2: Gather Market Data
Gather as much data as you can about your market, your audience and your products. Use tools like Compete.com, Alexa.com and Quantcast.com to do online market research. Use Google to find data about your industry.
Get to know your numbers. How much web traffic can you expect? What age range is your target market? What are their education levels?
#3: Talk to Real People in Your Target Audience
Looking at numbers on a screen is one thing. Getting to know a real human being is something else. Oftentimes your most valuable insights will come from meeting real people in your audience. Have as many conversations with potential customers as you can, before you start your business.
Don’t try to sell them anything. Instead, ask for their advice and feedback. People love to share their opinions.
#4: Have a Solid Marketing Plan
Don’t assume that “if you build it, they will come.” That’s a very dangerous assumption to make. Instead, come up with a step-by-step plan for bringing customers to your door. Study up on marketing strategies and write a detailed plan.
#5: Test a Name
Use tools like Five Second Test to test your name. You can also use Facebook ads. Come up with as many quality names as you can, then narrow the list down to 2-5 names. Use these tools to test your names. Get as many responses as possible, preferably a statistically significant response.
#6: Launch with an MVP
Launch your business with a Minimum Viable Product. In other words, get it off the ground as quickly as possible. Adjust the product and the business as you go along. Try to spend as little time as possible planning and researching.
Your most important data comes when you actually launch. Most business plans get tossed out the window the moment the business is operational. So, get launched as quickly as you can and learn on the way.
#7: Be on the Lookout for Talent
People will make or break your business. Always be on the lookout for strong talent. If you meet someone who you think would be a good fit for your business, stay in touch with them. Having winners on your team will make you a winning business.