~by Hannah Whittenly~
If you don’t like your current job, don’t think you can advance in your field, or are just looking for more control over your professional life, it may be worthwhile to start your own business. However, before you start a company, it is critical that you think your plan through.
What are some items to consider before you enter the marketplace?
1. Do You Have a Business Plan?
The first thing you need to do is create a business plan that addresses what your company does, how it does it and how it can be profitable. While it doesn’t have to be an in-depth document, it should address how the company will make money. For instance, it should detail whether the company will use generated revenue through memberships, subscriptions or sales made by affiliates.
It should also account for competition that already exists or competitors that may enter the market in the future. Furthermore, it should cover what the company will do if a new company or technology disrupts the current dynamic of the market. For instance, what will the business do if demand drops or a competitor engages in a price war to win your market share?
2. Make Sure That You Have Licenses and Credentials
Before you start your company, you may need to get licenses from your town, county or state. You may also need to register with the federal government to get an employer identification and tax number. In addition to getting the proper licenses for your business, it may be necessary to acquire or update professional licenses to increase credibility with customers.
If you plan on using third-party vendors to provide food, do contract work or provide other services, you should make sure that they are properly credentialed. This can easily be done through a vendor credentialing service. The last thing you want is to be liable for work someone else did because they didn’t have insurance or because of a paperwork error.
3. How Will You Market Your Business?
Starting a business is only half the battle when it comes to getting sales. If no one knows that your company exists, you won’t make the money needed to stay in operation. This means that you will need to market either through radio or television advertisements, online ads or by putting posters on telephone poles in your local area.
When creating a marketing plan, you should strive to advertise in places where your target market spends time. If you are targeting younger people, that may mean advertising on social media or putting physical advertisements in schools or in youth centers. If you are targeting older people, you may want to advertise during afternoon television programming or near the assisted living facility.
4. What Is Your Customer Service Plan?
At some point, you will run into a customer who isn’t satisfied or who may need help making a purchasing decision. At first, you might personally handle complaints, concerns or requests. However, as your company grows, you may need to move into a call center or use social media to respond promptly to the needs of your customers.
Neglecting to meet the needs of your patrons is one of the easiest ways for a business to fail. No matter how good your products or services are, no one wants to spend money to be lied to, misled or otherwise treated as if they don’t matter.
Starting a company can be a great way to advance your ideas or gain more control over your professional life. While everyone dreams of being rich and successful, it is important that you cover the basics, like having a business plan and ensuring that your company can legally operate first.
Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She graduated from the University of California-Sacramento with a degree in Journalism.