I hope you didn’t spend too much time making resolutions that you probably won’t keep over the holidays. Let’s resolve to do something different in 2017. If you are fearful about launching a business. Swallow the fear and deal with facts. Create a plan and then work your plan. You can do it. Just make the decision to do it. It’s really about resolve. Your new resolve. I don’t often hear bad business ideas, but there’s a ton of poor business execution out here, especially if you don’t have a plan.
Let’s resolve to build your dream business in 2017. When you develop a strong plan, your top issues will be finding the time and coming up with the money—not fear. If you are ready to create your business, here are seven things you must put in place to succeed as your own boss.
- Create a Life Plan
Figure out what you want and why you want it. Get clear about your personal and professional goals before you invest the time to write a business plan. Determine how much money you need to make to be happy. You want the business you are launching to give you the lifestyle you want for you and your family. Your life plan will help you design your dream life. Once you have a solid business concept determine whether or not you have enough of a sacrificial attitude to build a business. Then be honest with yourself to figure out if you have the time, money, and discipline to turn that idea into a solid business. Keep in mind it could three to four years before you see daylight along this journey.
- Get Your Money Straight
The money to start your business will come from your personal financial resources. Banks typically do not loan money to start-ups. Create a budget and review your monthly expenses looking for areas to cut. You also need to eliminate all credit card debt. Work on getting your credit score up above 700. If you are married, once you get buy-in from your partner, start living on one salary and banking the other one. If you are single, start saving 30-40% of every paycheck. You need to free up cash in order to start paying for things like health insurance, which could run $500 or more a month just for one person. You’ll need emergency savings, at least 12 months of household living expenses and don’t forget you’ll need money to launch the business. Start saving more money now!
- Validate Your Business Model
Once you think you have a business idea, test the marketplace to see if there’s a paying customer for your product or service. Look at your industry to get some ideas about the competition and how you will compete online. Use social media to get instant feedback on the name, product description, packaging, and pricing. Define your revenue model. Will you be direct sells network like Lularoe, doing home shows like Avon, strictly selling e-commerce through a marketplace like Amazon or establishing a retail location? Keep in mind that no matter what you sell, online marketing will be very important to drive traffic to your website or storefront.
- Pick a Niche
If everybody can use your product or service, no one will. People want to hire specialists. You can stand out in the marketplace by serving a particular niche customer. My consulting firm Quintessence Group only works with Fortune 1000 companies who target small business customers. Get really clear about your best target customers. Think about if you need 100 customers or three large customers. Develop a detailed customer profile and specialize in solving a specific business problem. Remember, Niche to get riche.
- Focus on Your Online Strategy
Your website is the welcome mat into your business. It will often be your first touch point with potential customers, so you need to make sure visitors have a great experience— especially from a mobile device. Know your 5 best keywords and use them throughout your website copy. Make sure your website layout is simple and gives calls to action on every page. Make your contact information is easy to find, and be sure to post a phone number. No one wants to think too hard about how to do business with you. Make sure you have an irresistible free offer on your site to capture e-mail addresses. Use an email marketing program such as Aweber or Infusionsoft to develop nurture programs through email to convert visitors into customers. Then build your social media footprint using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram or Snapchat to drive traffic to that website.
- Write a Business Plan
You need to think through how your business is going to work, so the best way to do that is to write a plan. I suggest you start with looking at the website bplans.com for sample business plans, then get some business plan software such as enloop.com and the then take a business plan course at the local community college or small business development center, so that you get really finish the financial projections for your plan. Start with the marketing plan first and then if that makes sense finish the plan.
- Launch While Working
Become a side hustler first before you jump all the way out of corporate America. It takes 12-18 months before a small business starts to break even, so learn your early business lessons while the paychecks are still rolling. It’s much easier to be strategic about your business when you’re not panicked about where your next check is coming from.
Running a business isn’t an overnight success kind of thing. It takes a ton of planning and forethought. If you want to become a successful business in 2017, you need to get started right now! Fortunately, I’ve laid out everything you need to do, month-by-month, in my bestselling book Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months, 2nd edition. So I’ve done my part. Now it’s up to you to resolve to start your dream business in 2017. Read the book and put it into action.