You have a great idea but you aren’t sure what steps to take to start your soon-to-be successful business? I can help!
Follow these steps, in this order, and find yourself better prepared than most other UK startups*
*see this article about the statistics of small business from Smallbusiness.co.uk
Start by modelling your business so that your idea can become something tangible. There are different models out there that you can use; the two biggest being CANVAS and VISOR.
Get down on paper the building blocks of what your business is. Who it interacts with, and also how it makes money.
This is the foundation of the rest of your steps. If you try and skip ahead you will most likely be missing key information. A successful Business Model will also tell you, very quickly, if your idea has legs or not. If not just file under “I tried” and go to your next idea.
Research your Customers, Competition, and Partners
Here you will build on that Business Model. Look at all the ways your product or service needs to interact with people or businesses.
Cover all three together as something you discover whilst researching your competition might change your partners or customers.
- Do your research on your competition – what is your USP (unique selling point)? What do they do better than you? What are their flaws on which you could capitalise?
- Really get to grips with your customer. Segment them. What sex are they? What age? Where do they shop? What is their lifestyle? What Social Media do they use? How does your product fit in with them? What problem do you solve for them? You might want to lead some focus groups or surveys to really understand them.
- Who do you need to work with to ensure you get your product or service in front of your customer. For example; let’s say you want to launch a new all natural jam. Which supermarkets should you try and be in? What does your Customer Segments tell you? Finally, you can look at how you will get your product to that supermarket.
When you have finished this step you should have a full understanding of who you will sell to and who you need to interact with to make that happen.
Do not skip or try to speed through this step; truly understanding your customer is one of the main reasons potentially successful businesses fail or never really start.
The question you are answering here is;
“What do my customers need and how can I get something better than everyone else in front of them in a way that suits them”
Complete your Business plan and Financials
Now you fully understand to whom and how you are selling your product or service you can flesh out the detail in a full Business Plan
I would suggest to you that you start small with something approaching a lean business plan aka a Strategic Plan (which you can find on the templates page)
Here you also build up the financials that you can use to get investment. This is a great time to create your document for recording sales. For your Business Plan you will need to have up to 5 years worth of forecasts – best to record that and then you can measure it once you launch.
Create a Launch Plan
Now, this is something everyone – including many household-name high street brands I have worked with – want to rush. Quick let’s get this amazing product to market!
A launch plan does two things
- Gives you a deadline to work to which means you can only prevaricate so much.
- Helps you understand the steps required to get you to market and stops you getting it out there before you are ready.
It is a delicate balance between being too eager or too reticent to get to market.
During this stage, you also need to be honest about what you have the time and the skills to achieve yourself and what someone else could do.
Have a look at my article Time vs Money (or when should I outsource)
Investigate your Finance options
Lots of people jump straight to this step. I’ve got an idea, let me get some cash and get cracking. Get someone else to write your business plan and then away you go, right? Wrong.
If you do not understand how your business hangs together, who your customer really is and how you will make money – you will not only NOT be successful, the chance are you will fail!
If you have followed the steps to here you have your business plan and you know how profitable you can be hence going to an investor becomes really easy.
Here’s a useful link for Finance options in the UK on the Gov.uk site; Finance Options
Objectives – Review – Objectives – Review
You are now in the very powerful position of knowing exactly what you want to achieve and how you are going to achieve it. Well done!
Don’t rest there though – rather make sure you have at least one SMART objective for each goal in your Strategic Plan. Have your sales forecasts all in one place. You know how you are going to record the actual sales as they happen yet you must keep coming back to these documents to measure yourself against them.
If an objective now looks outdated, make sure to change it to align with your new goals. The Strategic Plan and your SMART objectives should be living, breathing documents that allow you to be a nimble, fast-moving player in your industry.
To stand still is to fail (more on that another time) so it is especially relevant to come back to your plans to make sure you are still heading in the right direction.
Why not book in a FREE 30-minute consultation and see what tips and tricks I can give you and whether we could work together in the future?