5 Steps You Cannot Skip When Starting a Business

A lot of us dream of starting our own businesses. Many of us actually do, but only a few of us succeed at the entrepreneurial path. Why is this? Why do some ideas and business plans sputter and die while others flourish on the free market? Let’s assess the situation…

Why Does One Succeed and the Other Fail?
First and foremost, those who succeed have a few specific personality and work ethic skills. In addition, they make a plan and work the plan. Here are 5 steps you cannot skip when starting a business.

•Business Plan
Quite literally: A business plan is the foundation on which you build your business. Do the research, make a solid plan, and learn to adjust as necessary. Business plans allow us to really look at every aspect from concept to execution and what it will take to make it all happen. In addition, this is where the budget starts and a business without a budget is no business at all. You know the saying, “It takes money to make money”? Well, it’s true.

•Marketing Plan
A marketing plan is the second most important thing you need to wrap your mind around. Marketing is the lifeblood of any business. Marketing covers everything from your letterhead and business cards to your advertising and social media campaigns. A designated and committed budget, a well-researched locale, accurate demographics, and expert insight are all necessary when it comes to marketing.

Also, and this is very important, be sure your marketing campaign includes and embraces a local cause.

•Online Presence
Whatever you do, do not underestimate the Internet and what your online reputations says about you and your business. From vendors to prospective employees and customers, the Internet is the first place people are going to look to find out more.

Accordingly, your business needs to have a website and social media pages like LinkedIn, FaceBook, Twitter, and Pinterest. In addition, a stand-alone or website incorporated blog is a new must for fresh relevant content to continuously increase or maintain your Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

•Online Payment Options
When you are building out your site and integrating a shopping cart or other merchant services, having a something like a virtual terminal (VT) is an extremely efficient manner of accepting online payments for your products or services. This allows your customers to be able to do business with you wherever they (and you) are. In the digital age, think of this as a must.

If you work in a scheduling type of business (clinic, salon, etc), there is software specifically for that too. Businesses that do not allow online payment options are losing business, so don’t let yours be one of them.

No matter what your business is, no matter how you choose to promote and advertise it, the most important thing is to be consistent. Do not skip around from this to that. Experiment before you start your business, not after. If you advertise, don’t piece-meal small dollars everywhere thinking you will reach more people, instead choose a venue and own it as much as your budget will allow.

We start businesses because we have dreams, or perhaps because we simply no longer wish to work for someone else. But, if we are not careful and prepared, dreams can turn into nightmares and money pits. Learn the industry you wish to get involved in; learn the prospective recipient of your product or service–the end users, as they’re called. Learn the region in which you plan to open shop and then start with that business plan and go from there.

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