Maybe you’re a student searching for a summer job or an experienced worker looking to escape the 9-5. Starting your own business allows you to leverage your passion and skills for profit and a flexible schedule. Being your own boss brings tremendous opportunity, but also presents risk and responsibility. Check out these tips and resources to help you get your business off the ground.
1. Figure Out What Your Business Will Sell and to Whom
Almost anything can be turned into a business. The possibilities are virtually limitless if you just start to think like an entrepreneur. For example, someone who likes kayaking could run guided kayak tours and someone who likes making accessories could make hair bands from recycled materials. These days entrepreneurs provide all sorts of products, services and solutions to solve problems and make life better. Many include smart phone apps and disruptive technologies such as Uber for example. When thinking about what you want to sell, remember that whatever the product, it must be of interest to your target market. You should solve a problem or improve on something that already exists.
2. Write a Business Plan and Build a Budget
A business plan is defined as, a document that summarizes the operational and financial goals of a business and contains the detailed plans and budgets showing how the goals are to be met. A budget is defined as an estimate of the income and expenditure for your business over a set amount of time. In this plan you will outline how your business will run, and what risks will be associated with it. With a little research you’d be surprised how much free information is available from banks and on the internet – just be certain the source of information is credible.
Considerations for your budget should include expenses related to: equipment, office supplies, gas money, advertising costs, bank fees, insurance costs, inventory, rent and any other expenses you may have. There are a number of companies that can help make this process easier. For example, at Bullfrog Insurance you can buy business insurance online in under 90 seconds. You fill in some questions, get a quote from up to 4 insurers and can purchase insurance your business. That way you can get back to the more exciting parts of starting a business faster.
3. Find Financing
Most of us can’t afford all of these expenses alone, and since starting a business involves significant overhead it might be in your interest to seek out some financial assistance until you start bringing in some revenue. It is important that you have a thorough business and finance plan for your company when approaching investors. Luckily, the Canadian government and venture capitalists across Canada are looking to invest in innovative start-up businesses. You can also pitch to a growing number of business incubators popping up across the country.
4. Launch your Business.
So you’ve got a plan and a great product, now what? Let your customers know that you are available for business. You can do this through advertising and word of mouth. Choose where you are going to advertise carefully, think about who your target market is, and where will they go for information. Having an online presence in the form of a website and social media handles is one of the most important ways for your customers to find you. Depending on your product you might want to consider advertising in local print publications like newspapers and magazines. Building relationships with social media influencers can also help boost business.
5. Network, Network, Network and Seek Mentors
One of the best ways to get your name out there is through word of mouth. Keep your business cards on you at all times. You never know who you’ll meet or how they could possibly help you. You should also take advantage of local business events such as Business Development groups. These events give you the opportunity to tell people about your business and for you to make local connections in the business world. These connections can form lasting mentor/mentee relationships which will help you to avoid mistakes that someone has already learned from, saving you time and money.
6. Get Your Clients and Keep Them Happy.
Client retention is cheaper than acquiring a new client. Make sure that every interaction with a client is pleasant for them. Customers are more likely to share a negative experience than a positive one. This can be extremely damaging in the start up phase of your business.
7. Have Fun!
You are starting this business because you are passionate about something. Have fun and share that passion with everyone you meet and it will translate into profit.