How To Start A Business

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You can succeed in business even without any experience and with very little money. But you need to make the best decisions on a number of critical issues. Here’s some quick advice on how to make the best choices.

1-Find an awesome business idea
A great business idea is going to make a difference in the success of your business. Yet many entrepreneurs go about choosing a business idea the wrong way and end up with either a bad business or a business that isn’t well suited for them. Often, they don’t even really choose a business idea. They just drift towards it. Maybe they saw that a particular business had a lot of customers. Maybe they heard that a friend of a friend was making a lot of money in a business. Instead, you want to choose your business idea carefully. First, you should put together a big list of business ideas that appeal to you. If you don’t start out with a big list of business ideas to consider, you are not going to end up with an awesome one.
A great business starts with a great idea. There are many proven and profitable ideas waiting for you.

Are there really lots of good business ideas out there? Absolutely! And many ideas require little experience or money. I started over 12 successful businesses and most of them I began with under $2,000, usually in fields that I knew nothing about. One of these businesses I later sold for $40 million. Next, you want to carefully evaluate your favorite business ideas and decide which is the very best one for you. You want to carefully consider factors such as the potential upside of the business, the inherent risk of the business and the suitability of the business for you. Finding an awesome business idea will go a long way to making your business a big success, so give this process the time and effort it deserves.
For more on finding a business idea check out my course, Start-a-Business 101. In this course, I present hundreds of my favorite ideas. I also give you my 6-step process for finding the very best idea for you.

2-Develop a competitive advantage
Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs fail to truly make their business different from their competitors. They might survive, but often they end up competing on price, struggle to find customers, and suffer from low-profit margins. It doesn’t have to be that way! A little bit of effort building a competitive advantage into your business will go a long way to making it successful. Too many entrepreneurs try to compete head-on by being “better” than their competition. Or they simply think they will succeed by working harder and longer. That might work at school or in sports, but not in business. In business, you want to be different and avoid competing directly with the other players.
Being better is not enough. You have to be different to truly succeed in business.

Competitive advantage has three key components. First, you want to choose a great target market that the existing players are not servicing well. For example, if all the existing restaurants in town serve dinner and lunch, then maybe you want to serve breakfast. Then you want to “differentiate.” Instead of opening up a bicycle store for the mass market, maybe instead you open up a bicycle store that totally focuses on high-end bicycles for the serious enthusiast. Finally, you need to clearly and quickly communicate to your audience your competitive advantage. This starts with developing a “Unique Selling Proposition.” A few keywords that convey the core value proposition in a memorable way. The most famous USP is perhaps Federal Express’ “Absolutely, positively overnight.” Whatever size or type of business you are starting, creating your competitive advantage is extremely important.
For more on creating your competitive advantage, check out my course, Start-a-Business 101. I include an entire module on this critical topic.

3-Carefully create your business plan
A business plan is going to help you build a better business. Even a small, part-time business should have a business plan. If you don’t have a good business plan you will likely end up running your business in a haphazard, disorganized way.
Even a one-person business needs a great business plan! A good business plan carefully evaluates all the key factors in your situation including the market, potential customers, the competition and your strengths and weaknesses. This process then leads to an optimal strategy for your business, along with a cohesive operating plan.

A good business plan should be the central road map of your business.If you are starting a simple one-person business or for the first stages of planning a larger business, a one-page business plan is all that you need. For more on creating your business plan check out my course, Start-a-Business 101. I will show you exactly how to create a onepage business plan. You will also get a sample plan and a fill-in-the-blanks template.

4-Develop compelling marketing
The big secret about marketing is that it is hard not just for new businesses, but also for existing businesses. If you try to pretend marketing isn’t hard and you decide you are going to pour all your resources into one unproven marketing direction, you could get into trouble really quickly.
So, what’s the solution? You want to try lots of very different types of marketing. And you want to spend as little money as possible on any one marketing campaign until it is proven to work.
Fortunately, there is a lot of marketing you can do for free.
You can build a simple, but effective, website for free. Then you can optimize it to make sure you show up in Google search results.
There are all kinds of exciting “guerilla marketing” you can do for almost no cost. Examples include posters, discount coupons and networking. They work – I’ve used them all.
You can also create your own ads for search engines or even ads on social media such as Facebook. If you can write one sentence, you can create a search engine ad. If you can upload a picture to the internet, you can create Facebook ads. The beauty about online ads is that you can test them for very little money. So, test everything – the ad copy, the offer and the audience – before you spend much money.

Online ads are easy to test with small amounts of money and allow you to target a specific audience. They can even work well for very small startups.
Marketing is too important, too finicky and too different for each business to just hire an outside expert. As the business founder, you need to develop at least a basic understanding of marketing. Then either do it all yourself or hire an expert in a particular expertise, such as search engine optimization.
For more on marketing, check out my course, Start-a-Business 101. This course is chock-full of free and low-cost marketing ideas that are perfect for a new business. I will show you how to create a marketing plan. I will give you my 50 favorite “guerilla” marketing techniques. I will walk you step-by-step through every aspect of digital marketing. And I will show you how to make sales presentations that will make your product or service irresistible.

5-Create financial statements and projections
Do you need to hire someone to do your accounting? No, you can almost certainly do it yourself. The key is to be organized. You need to record every single purchase and every single sale.
You can do your accounting yourself. The secret is being organized and willing to learn. You also need to create financial statements and projections. But it’s easy to learn. The most basic financial statement is the income statement. It provides a summary of your revenue, your expenses and your resulting profit over a period of time. You should also create a balance sheet and make future financial projections.
For more see my course, Start-a-Business 101. I will show you how to create your financial statements and projections. And I will provide you with templates and samples.

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How To Start A Business