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10 things to do BEFORE you start your business

From the start of your business, you’re in a race against time.  Your hard earned money will essentially become like the sands of time, trickling down into a void of nothingness from which your business must rise above within a short period of time.  To help you cope for the initial race with time, here are ten things that you must do before you start your business:

Assess yourself:  Know if you have the qualities – discipline, knowledge, drive, and skills – that are needed to see your business venture through.  Are you willing to go through months of financial insecurity and fear?  Knowing yourself is winning half the battle to come.

Assess your business idea:  It’s one thing to be convinced that your product or service is better than what is currently offered in the market, but it’s entirely a different matter trying to convince other people to believe the same.  Test the waters; get an idea of how other people will respond to your products or services by talking to them first.

Assess your market:  All businesses are based on the relationship between buyer and seller.  Plunging in without getting to know your intended customers spells doom for your plans right from the start; this will lead to expensive marketing (and budgeting) mistakes and hamper your plans and strategies for getting your investment back.  Get to know your target market; know their buying power, their spending habits, their preferences and tastes and the world will be yours.

Assess your budget:  Many start-up businesses close down after a few months due to the lack of a robust cash flow.  In fact, no matter how good your business idea is and no matter how many customers you have, if you don’t a solid financial plan, there will be no way for you to go but down.

Assess your marketing and advertising plan:  Marketing and advertising will be some of your most expensive tasks during your first few months in business.  It goes without saying that you must make every cent count.  Carefully plan what marketing and advertising methods you will be using.

Assess your competition:  Knowing the competition is a big factor in maximising your chances of becoming successful.  Get to know your competitor’s pricing, marketing and other strategies so you can compete.

Assess your people:  Check whether or not your people are assets or liabilities to your company.  Train and retrain them if necessary.

Check your premises:  Now will be the best time to check your premises or the assumptions that underlie your decisions.  If, for instance, you have decided to under-price the competition so you could get into the market, you have to ask yourself whether or not your assumption that price is one of the significant determinants of your target market’s behaviour is correct.  This step is necessary so you can correct plans based on incorrect assumptions.

Put all your plans down in writing:  This way, you’ll have a blueprint of your plans.  Your business plan will serve as your guide and your compass during the months to come.

Make sure you have all the necessary papers and permits:  Doing this ensures that you will avoid future problems; it also increases your credibility with your customers.

4 comments

  • Francis Gasteyer said on October 14th, 2007 at 6:27 pm :

    I am student in last year of graduation and always wanted to start a business. However, I have no idea on how to go about it and where to start. This article came at the right time to put things in perspective. Now I know how to start picking things. Thanks a ton for all the information in the article. After reading this article, I am so happy and confident. Mark you are such an inspiration; I will keep watching this space to hear from you more.

  • Sean Harris said on October 14th, 2007 at 6:28 pm :

    Thanks for the nice article. It is good for budding entrepreneurs looking to take a plunge into new business. I know there are many risks associated with starting a new venture. Although these cannot be eliminated, proper information and planning can help control most of the. Starting a new business is also not an easy task it required lot of money, manpower and Knowledge. These ten commandants would help guide the process of starting a new venture for new entrepreneurs.

  • Anne Guinan said on October 14th, 2007 at 6:30 pm :

    I like your article and I think it will really help the new entrepreneurs. In these ten
    Suggestions I like ‘Assess yourself’ and ‘Put all your plans down in writing’ most.
    I heard that there are certain inventories / questionnaires available which can assess the entrepreneurial abilities of an individual. Can you provide some information to me? I like to assess myself whether I have the right abilities and attitude to start my own business or am I better of being a salaried person. In addition, I would like to know where one could find the professional help to write the business plan, as these days almost everyone insists on a biz plan.

  • Marg Heche said on October 14th, 2007 at 6:31 pm :

    Well written! Are there any short courses, which can people on different aspects of starting a small business? I am running a small business for quite some time but not able to make a any major break through. I am still running below the break even and after reading your article, I feel the problem lies with “assess your market”. I would be interested to know on this issue and how one can increase the market penetration. Do you feel I should talk to my prospective customers? I feel I need some professional help there.

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