If you’re hoping to become the next successful entrepreneur, then you need an action plan to start a business. This is a checklist of tasks that you have to complete and steps you need to follow to make your dream a reality. When coming up with an action plan to start a business, make sure that our goals are clearly defined and that you have outlined who will be completing these steps, when they’ll be completed, and the resources that will be required for each step. It’s important to develop an action plan before, because when you plan ahead, you have a clear direction to follow, and you can prepare for the obstacles ahead. Here are some important things to consider to ensure you develop an effective action plan that will increase your chances of success.
1. Understand What It Takes
The first port of call when developing an action plan to start a business is to understand what you’re getting into. Wanting to own a business is a great initiative, but it also takes a lot of hard work and dedication. The last thing you want is to commit to your plan only to find out that you went down the wrong path. As a would-be business owner, you have to ask yourself a few questions. For instance, while it’s great to be your own boss, are you fine with the idea of wearing all the hats and being responsible for making all the difficult decisions? In the beginning, you may have to put in a lot of hours with very little time. Will you be comfortable with that?
Are you capable of staying optimistic and keeping a level head, even in the face of failure and setbacks? To better understand what it takes to run a business, you have to explore the world of entrepreneurship and figure out the approach you’ll take. If possible, talk to other established business owners and look for a mentor that will give you some valuable insights. Once you have determined that starting a business is the right thing to do, you can then proceed with confidence.
2. Find and Refine Your Idea
For your business to be successful, you need to come up with an innovative idea that sells. While you might think that the business world is already saturated with innovative ideas, the truth is that there will always be room for new businesses as long as they’re fulfilling a need. Your action plan to start a business can’t proceed unless you have a workable idea that can be turned into an idea or service. Ideally, this should be something that interests you or at least something that you know something about. That’s because it can be tricky trying to refine an idea from scratch when you barely know the industry.
For example, if you have never worked in the restaurant industry, you probably have a tough job figuring out how best to implement your idea compared to someone who has been exposed to the ins and outs of running a restaurant. Once you have an idea that shows potential, the next step is to refine it further by determining your potential target market, their pain points, and how you can smooth those pain points. Don’t focus too much on thinking outside the box, because there are tried and tested methods for implementing your business idea. Therefore, it’s a good idea to consult with an advisor or a mentor so you can refine your innovative idea quickly and efficiently.
3. Do Your Market Research
Let’s say your new business idea is centered on the idea of being an IT provider. In that case, you need to research and assess the market to ensure that there’s demand for the service you’re providing. In the previous step of your action plan to start a business, you have developed a rough idea of what your business is about, so this next step involves knowing more about your target market. It’s good to start by identifying your closest competitors, which are other IT service providers in this case. That’s because you need a way to differentiate yourself when you’re breaking into an existing market.
Look at other companies with a similar product and service and look for ways to make your product or service bigger and better. Look at your competitors’ strengths and emulate that. Also, consider their weaknesses and find ways to surpass them. Even if you’ve come up with a disruptive idea that will give birth to an entirely new market, you still need to ensure that your idea is as appealing as possible. If you’re innovating something new, you should be concerned about whether people are even interested and if the idea is going to be viable in the long term. Gather as much data as you can find and analyze your findings to ensure you’re on the right track.
4. Create a Business Plan
Having an action plan is not the same as having a business plan. You can include your business plan in your action plan to ensure you have the bigger picture before you set your initiative into motion. The goal of writing up a business plan is to ensure that all your immediate and future goals are properly outlined. The business plan should also outline how those goals are going to be achieved. Your business plan typically includes the executive summary, which is a comprehensive overview that explains various elements of your business in the clearest possible terms. Writing a business plan is easy, especially since there are templates you can download that are already structured and which can be customized to reflect your business’s unique approach.
Your business plan will help guide your future decisions and offer many benefits. For starters, you need clarity when you’re first starting a small business. A good business plan is a great tool that will give you more peace of mind. Think of it as your roadmap to success that provides all the clarity you need to achieve your business objectives. Instead of second-guessing yourself at every moment, you can make important decisions swiftly and efficiently regarding key aspects of the business, such as funding, staffing, and your business structure. Instead of trying to do everything at once, you’ll have priority tasks and milestones to focus on to ramp up your business.
5. Choose a Business Location
Your business has to operate from somewhere, so choosing a business location should also be part and parcel of developing an action plan to start a business. Make sure you choose a location carefully because location matters to the success of your operations. It can determine how accessible your products and services are, and it can also affect your total startup costs. For instance, if you’re setting up in an office, you have to factor in costs like rental or lease fees, business signage, office design, and business lighting. Ideally, your premises or offices should be located in a high-traffic area where you’re more likely to attract visitors.
Your location should be easy for customers to access and the space should be suitable for your business. If you’re not setting up in an office, you can explore other alternatives, such as running a home business or an online business. A home business can save money, but it may not be ideal if you’re looking to quickly scale up operations and the available space is not enough. Running an online business offers more flexibility, especially if your products or services are digital or if they can be shipped directly to customers’ doorsteps. However, you’ll still need to invest in business technology infrastructure to support your business model.
6. Handle the Legal Side of Things
There are legalities involved when you’re planning to start your own business. These legalities are not something that you can afford to ignore because non-compliance can be troublesome for your business down the line. For starters, you have to ensure that your business is licensed and registered. There are federal, state, and local requirements that you have to follow regarding this. If you’re unsure how to handle the legal side of things, consider hiring a business lawyer. They can help you with things like choosing a business name and structure as well as obtaining an EIN for tax purposes. They can also help you select the right business insurance.
7. Acquire Working Capital
Your action plan to start a business requires financial resources to put in place. Therefore, you need to figure out how you’re going to obtain the required capital to cover all the expenses associated with getting your business up and running. When you’re first starting your business, the typical costs include inventory, business insurance, business payroll, marketing, equipment, technology, office space, and website design. Your business won’t be able to get started without capital to back it. If you have enough savings to invest in your business, then you’re one of the lucky ones since you already have the leg up to get ahead. However, if you’re like most entrepreneurs, you probably need an external source of funds to breathe life into your business.
In that case, you can start by looking into business loans. There are banks that can offer you the funds you need if they’re convinced you’re making a good investment based on your business plan. Securing a loan from a bank is usually easier if you have a suitable asset to use as collateral. You can still get funding without collateral if you look for business grants that are being awarded at the federal, state, or local level. Alternatively, you can look for investors or use crowdfunding, which are all viable means of raising the capital you need.
8. Launch Your Marketing Campaign
Don’t wait until your business operations are in full swing to start marketing your business. Therefore, your action plan to start a business should always include a detailed marketing campaign so that you can promote your company to the right people. Your marketing campaign is also what helps you build brand authority and awareness. Lack of visibility has killed many businesses before they even started, because if people are not aware of your business’s existence, then you won’t get the sales to sustain operations. So, what should your marketing campaign involve?
Today’s technological advancements have made it easier than ever to market your business through digital means. This typically involves creating a company website that’s SEO optimized to attract organic traffic. When you have more visitors to your site, you can widen your audience and establish a solid online presence and better visibility. You can also use pay-per-click advertising (PPC) to get your business noticed sooner. Additionally, you can explore several marketing methods, such as social media marketing and email marketing.
The easiest way to get the ball rolling on your marketing campaign is to hire a digital marketing agency that will help you advertise your business better. Remember that branding your business should be part of your marketing efforts, so consider working with a local sign company or business photography professionals to ensure that your branding is consistent across the board.
These are the important things to consider when coming up with an action plan to start a business. So, now that you have an action plan, what next? To make the path ahead easier, be sure to prioritize tasks and add deadlines. There are some steps that need to be attended to first so that the rest of your plan can get rolling. Besides setting realistic deadlines, you also need to make sure that you set milestones that can signal how well your business is progressing and keep you motivated.
The steps outlined above should work as the template you need to come up with a basic action plan to start a business. Keep in mind that your action plan is not set in stone, so you have plenty of room to monitor, evaluate, and update your action plan based on your business needs. The important thing is to familiarize yourself so thoroughly with your action plan that you’re constantly visualizing it and always ready to execute it to the letter.