So you woke up one more with an amazing idea for a business? Something you love to do, that makes your soul sing AND also makes you money... So now what?
Well... that's where the fun begins!
Humans are great at over-complicating things, but it doesn't need to be that way. The key is planning, time-management and breaking things down into achievable steps. Over the years working on my businesses and projects, as well as within various businesses in management positions, I've found some key areas that all businesses need to be successful and keep their sanity.
Here are some of my new business planning basics:
Have a product or service that people want or need (or make people think they want or need it) If you have a product that someone else already makes and is better and cheaper than yours, your product isn't going to do well. The key is having a quality product and a unique point of difference that makes it appealing to your target consumers
Understand the cashflow At it's basic foundations, a business is something that sells a product or service for money, and to be successful in business, you generally need to make more money than you spend (or there about, depending on how your accountant works things). Figure out the money stuff at the start, like: How much money do you need to generate to cover basic expenses (phone, power, stock, wages, etc.) and then invest back into the business before finally making a profit? Create a spreadsheet on the computer, find out the costs and make some estimates (and always allow for the unexpected) and start seeing if your business model is going to be sustainable and financially viable (not liable)
Manage your spending, analyze it and review ways to spend more wisely regularly A business is an ongoing work in progress, constantly changing and evolving and your spending habits in your second year will be different from your first year. It is important to know what expenses are regular and coming up, what you don't need to spend money on anymore and areas where you can reduce spending. I have a spreadsheet that has various categories where I put ALL my income and expenses and it splits it all up for me so I can see what areas I'm spending too much and where I need to spend more. (A lot of people don't spend near enough on marketing interestingly enough)
Know your legal, health and safety and ethical obligations and requirements As a business owner you will have certain legal obligations that are specific to your business and you are in charge of knowing what they are. Find a lawyer, do some research, talk to IRD. Learn about privacy policies, website terms and conditions, the consumer guarantees act, intellectual property, website cookie disclaimers, and other things specific to your business and the individual countries you may sell to. Get clued up and confident that you are going about your business in the most legal, ethical and health conscious way
Talk to people who are successful in business ... and learn from their mistakes. This will save you loads of time, and although you'll still make mistakes, you hopefully won't make the same ones that others have already resolved. Mistakes are all a part of learning. We don't know absolutely everything about everything and that is ok, as long as you learn from your mistakes and improve upon them (rather than repeating them over and over again!)
Do business because you love it and it makes you happy, not just for the money Being happy at your place of work and enjoying what you do makes a huge difference to the quality of life for most people, so why should your own business be any different? Ofcourse do it for the money, but do it because you love it and it will thrive. We always find the energy to put into the things we are passionate about and, in turn what we are passionate about gives us energy, it is a perpetuating cycle - as long as we keep a balance and don't get caught up in the money side of things too much
Love what you do and work hard at it Be prepared to put the work in (because you do need to work hard to run a successful business) but don't lose your quality of life or miss out on experiences that make life joyous. In my opinion it's a common misconception that you have to work yourself to the bone to succeed in business and in my observation, it is that you are more productive, efficient and creative with a fresh clear mind and healthy body from enjoying your life and taking care of your self, compared to the exhausted, drained and overworked person who doesn't take time for themselves. It is hard work wearing all the various hats and running a successful business and you do need to work hard, but you also need to work smart and take care of your health and wellbeing above all else because as someone said "Your health is your wealth"
Find your crew Build a team of reliable people that lift you up and speak the honest truth to you (and know what they are talking about). Everyone needs the support of a team even lone wolves. This can include your partner, accountant, printer, lawyer, networking buddies, family and staff, etc.
Set realistic goals with achievable time frames but have the flexibility to change if you need to Realistic goals are important at keeping you on track, but being too rigid in your plans might mean you miss changes or opportunities that benefit you more than your original plans did. Eg. If you have an income goal, don't aim for 1 million in your first month, aim realistically according to your income projections in your initial planning stages, because if you don't hit such a big target you might lose sight of your real milestones and achievements, and those are worth celebrating as much as your BIG goals
Market research Conduct a little market research with your target demographic. Is there a good enough market locally or do you need to target another town, city, country? Once you know your target demographic you can design your product, service and marketing to strategically target and appeal to them specifically. Market research can be as easy as holding a small party, giving away free samples at a trade show and then asking for feedback, or just putting up a Facebook poll
Keep reviewing where you are at, where you are going and how you are getting there Your journey will constantly change and so will your mode of transport as you change and grow as a human being. Keep on top of it with regular reviews in all areas of your business and make adjustments accordingly
Have fun and enjoy the journey Life is here to be experienced so make the most of the lessons and adventures that crop up along your path and keep growing. Rest when you need to rest and work when you need to work, find that balance and embrace the small successes and achievements in business.
Remember... a lot of people have ideas and dreams, but only a small percentage actually pursue them. Just by starting the ball rolling on your business idea, you are ahead of many and already achieving things others only dream of!
If you need a quick starter for business planning, please find my basic 'One Page Business Plan' to get you started here.
Thanks! Amanda Sears