Congratulations, the hardest part of starting a business is coming up with a good idea. Now there are a million things to do to build a business but first things first you need to just start it. My mom always said you eat the elephant one bite at a time and that is so true for a new business endeavor. I always think about a business as having three major areas and each needs to be started, or at least the first bite taken, and then you can take the next bite and the next and so on. The three areas are: Sales, Operations, and Back-office. Now I’m no expert in Sales and Operations but I can give you the big picture.
For Sales you need to figure out who you’re going to sell to, how you’re going to get to them, and why they’d want to buy it. It’s that simple. Actually it’s really not simple at all but if you can start by figuring out who your customers are going to be and launch an initial campaign to target them or market to them that’s a good start. Make sure you know what you’re going to say about the product and how it will help them. Have a price in mind but be willing to be flexible – first customers and references are the key to building something big. Remember, it’s not about what they can do for you to help you grow it’s about how you will help them succeed, customer first always.
For Operations, you need the product ready to sell or ready to deliver or made, or designed or whatever so that you have more than just an idea in your noggin. You need to know what you are going to provide as the product, have it defined, and be able to clearly describe it and deliver it. There is nothing worse than getting a customer willing to buy your stuff and having no stuff to sell. Even worse though is having lots of stuff you’ve invested in and no one to buy it, so Sales and Operations are usually discussed together for a reason. Make sure you know who your vendors are as well; this can bite you in the end if you don’t have those relationships and pricing solidified.
For Back-office, well this is what I can help you with. There are volumes of things to know about the back-office, but the short answer in the beginning is “keep it simple” and only implement the minimum stuff needed until you start seeing traction in your sales.
- You need to ensure you have a good estimate of how much money it is going to take to start your business based on what is needed for sales and operations.
- You need to ensure you have a plan on how to fund that cash need to start and if not; you need to revise your plan or find a financial source.
- You need to register the business entity (I have a training video on the website for types of entities if you aren’t sure)
- You need to get the respective site addresses, phone numbers, DBAs, ways to contact you in place – drives me crazy when this is done in a scramble at the end
- You need to figure out if you’re going to have payroll, and if so how you’re going to implement it
- Do you need business insurance? you may, so make sure you talk to a broker about that
- You will need a bank account and you will need your legal entity established first, so take care of that before
- Once you start paying for things and invoicing customers you’ll need bookkeeping service or a small accounting software package – both are doable, the latter is cheaper.
- Do you need contracts in place for employees, contractors, or customers? if so there are lots of cheap resources out there for those just starting out.
So make a simple bullet point list for Sales and Operations like the one above for back-office so you have a place to start. Starting a business doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It could be the best thing you ever do but you won’t know until you try, so just start trying, one bite at a time.