Starting a business from scratch is hard, and if you’re not prepared for the challenges ahead it will likely end badly. Knowing what to do from square one can help you survive the start-up phase and make it the promised land of profits.
#1: No Business Plan
It’s a good thing to have a business idea, but if you don’t put a plan behind it it will likely fizzle before it finds its footing. A solid business plan includes a market analysis, a research of the competition, how you will stand out in the industry and best your competition, as well as how long it will take your business to get out of the red and into the black.
The Fix: If you’re the founder of your company you’ll need to create the business plan on your own, or work with the team you’ve assembled and flesh out the details.
#2: In Need of a Good Team
All of the greatest businesses were formed by a group of people even if only one person gets the credit as the founder. Napoleon Hill mentions in several of his books the power of a Mastermind, the exponential effect created when two or more people work together in harmony towards a common goal. Harness that power and you’ll go much further much faster.
The Fix: Start small, but gradually build your way up to a strong and effective team. Identify your own key weaknesses and look for others who have strength in those areas. It’s better to be honest with yourself rather than think you’re perfect only to have your weaknesses exposed later.
#3: Not Enough Funding
The saying that it takes money to make money is quite valid, especially when you are starting up your business. That initial funding can be a real difference-maker, and you can cover far more ground and gobble up more market share early if you have the cash to make things happen.
The Fix: With your business plan and team in place you’ll look much better in the eyes of lenders, angel investors, and grant providers. Try to get as much funding as you can because it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
#4: Lack of Public Awareness
You can have the best idea ever, the coolest new app, or a really clever website but if no one knows about it it’s will just sit idle. Lack of money contributes to this problem, but even large amount of cash can only get you so many eyeballs. The real magic lies in getting your first visitors without breaking the bank.
The Fix: You’ve got to get the word out by any means necessary. This is where guerilla marketing tactics come in handy, whereby you start a word-of-mouth grassroots campaign and hope it hits a tipping point where it spreads on its own.
#5: No Mission Statement
Even if you have your business plan in place it will not be something that will guide your everyday actions. For this you’ll need a mission statement, a philosophical manifesto that will help in the daily decision-making needed to grow your business to meet your vision.
The Fix: Strongly consider your mission statement and take your time in creating it. It’s not something you’ll want to go back later and amend, as it speaks to your business’s soul and guiding principles.
#6: Lack of Technological Know-How
It can be very frustrating to have a terrific business idea and a good team, but not be able to execute your vision well because of a lack of technological expertise. Many new startups find their origins in Silicon Valley thanks to the heavy tech presence, but that doesn’t mean your business has to be there in order to succeed.
The Fix: Make sure you have an IT person on your team that knows enough about what you need and how to make it happen so you don’t find yourself stuck in a technological lurch.
#7: No Business Experience
There are written and unwritten rules to the game of business and many of them can only be learned on the battlefield. If you haven’t started a business before, and don’t have any business success to speak of, starting out can be more than a challenge, it can be downright demotivating.
The Fix: The only real fix for this challenge is to get out there, take action, and even take your lumps if you have to. It’s the only way you’ll become battle-tested and learn from those that are already out there doing it.