You’ve probably heard the advice “just go do it” when you tell people you want to start a business. And while it is important that you get the ball rolling as fast as possible, there are things you should consider that could potentially make or break your startup. Unfortunately, few people really spend the time and effort to think about things such as business plans, customer acquisition plans, marketing strategies, assets, etc. Don’t make the same mistakes that these entrepreneurs make. Here are six critical steps to examine before starting your own company:
1. Your Market
Failing businesses create products first and then find a market to sell them in; successful businesses find market demand that isn’t being served yet and then try to fill the gap. Before starting a business, look for markets that are unsaturated and underserved. If you’re building another to-do-list app, you’ll probably end up fighting for survival against the dozens of other tech startups that focus on that product. And if you have limited budget and resources to work with, you’ll lose against other companies that are well-insulated and backed by investors.
2. Your Co-founder
Bill Gates had a Steve Wozniak, Larry Page had a Sergey Brin; the list of successful business duos goes on. The point? You need a business partner who will help you overcome the challenges of starting and growing a business, someone you can discuss new ideas and strategies with, and someone who can share the burdens and stress of day-to-day operations. When choosing a co-founder, make sure you complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
3. Your Capital
The number one culprit of business failure is running out of cash. Even if you have the best products/services or the most catchy name and logo, you are bound to fail without enough cash to burn. Before you start a business, assess your chances of getting a business loan. Check your credit score and pay any outstanding personal loans that might interfere with your ability to repay future debt or apply for new ones. Peer-to-peer lending sites and crowdfunding campaigns are also good platforms to find potential investors and capital.
4. Your Security Protocols
What do you do when your customer data is stolen or your business secrets leaked? How would you handle a malware breach on your website that puts your business offline for days? Having company-wide protocols is an essential element of security. Training your employees to use company hardware and software responsibly is key to avoiding any unwanted security breaches. Investing in cutting-edge antivirus software and making sure all your security applications are up to date can also help protect your business.
5. Your Company Name and Logo
It sounds deceptively simple to think of a name and logo for your business. But coming up with one that sticks, like McDonald’s or Apple, is harder than you might think. Some common ways to find a suitable business name include thinking of good acronyms, like what AOL or America Online did, and by mashing up words, such as Compaq which is a mash of the words “computer” and “pack”. Using foreign words is another great way to come up with potential names for your company.
6. Your Location
Whether you’re just a completely online company or one with physical presence, you need to know where you’ll be setting up shop to determine costs, traffic, legal requirements, etc. When finding brick-and-mortar space, you want to balance cost versus exposure. Is the location ideal for foot traffic or is it secluded and hard to reach? For online businesses, is your web hosting provider reliable? Is uptime close to 100 percent and do you have the technical support you need when issues arise?
Before starting your business, make sure you’ve already considered these six factors. Missing any one of these things can prove to be detrimental to your future success.
by: Sia Hasan