At some point in our life, we have all wanted to be our own bosses, be self-employed, have the freedom to decide and alter the specs of our day-to-day job. At least, I sincerely hope I am not the only one.
There are some crucial steps one should never skip when strategic planning to start a small privately own business or even a family business. Often, the excitement of knowing that we have a good idea blind us to do the basic and focus on the importance of preparation.
Some important steps towards success with small businesses are:
Business Model who?
A well-thought business model will allow you as a business owner to determine the way your business will earn money, identify the services your clients appreciate, will allow you to foresee the how much will take the business to have a return of investment according to the nature of the business, but most importantly is not set in stone, it can be modified while the business is growing and developing.
The objective of a business model is finding the right formula that will show the business ideas as feasible, sustainable and with growth quality as much as possible.
Among the benefits that having a business model has:
- Identifies your market share
- Define your value chain
- Develop a competitive strategy
- Define your Value proposition
Having a Business Plan
Everything starts with an idea but for the idea to be executed a plan is needed. Long-term goals and short-term goals are often mixed in a pool of duties when as an entrepreneur one is starting. The clarity of business planning is going to be your best friends in the way to personal and professional success.
The importance of a business plan exists within the structure that is given to the starting point of the business, it provides details and works with the previously developed business model building on top of it with more information towards the understanding of the brand that is being created.
The plan is tailored to be understood by every part of the team involved in the business, giving them details of the processes and details on how to attract, keep customers, and deal with competition. This plan will allow you to make assumptions on financial matters as stability and predictions for the near future always supporting the business model while explaining the steps needed to fulfill the goals of the business.
Find your Buyer Persona
Some call them the audience, ideal customer or target persona, at the end it’s the person that you were thinking will buy your product when you had the idea of selling it, that’s it.
The buyer persona is that ideal match for your brand, and even if you haven’t think about it you already know the name of that person. Make a profile for it, make sure it’s as real as your best friend and get to know that person well. Make a list with her/his name, last name, profession, age, tastes, hobbies, personality traits, music taste, living environment, you name it! This list will help you to serve more adequately your product or service to that person.
To have a successful branding strategy is crucial to have the buyer persona defined, in this way you will be able to approach them in a better way and have a higher rate of success when capturing new customers.
Develop a Marketing Plan
When speaking about marketing everyone’s mind goes to social media and the madness that it involves, a lot of time, a lot of effort and of course a lot of money. It does not have to be like that a marketing plan should be first of all focused on:
- The goals of the business
- Analyses of the business SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats)
- Set time frame and budget (if it’s there some)
- Develop a game plan
- Measurement and accountability
The goal is organic business growth because is low-cost and it lingers with the business longer, and of all the steps listed before the most important and often neglected is measurement and accountability. This step will let you know which one was the better way to go, and how to improve if the business growth or increase of audience wasn’t as expected.
For business owner’s money is not necessarily growing on trees, being safe with finances is key for that reason besides all the hard work on the looks and feels of the business an important aspect to pay attention is insurance. Understanding insurance might not be a piece of cake for everyone but the actuality of not having one are as real as the difference between been in business one day and not in business the next.
Professional liability insurance will help your small business to be protected when sued for professional liability, no matter how simple those might be can have cost up to $100,000, and each case might be different and even more complex. Your business will be covered even when the lawsuit is frivolous, and your business wasn’t at fault, professional liability will cover the legal expenses. So, I will think that having professional liability insurance as a business owner nowadays is a must.
Having SMART goals is a key to small business success:
- S: SPECIFIC, goals should be simple yet significant, focused on the business and with specific steps to follow.
M: MEASURABLE, goals should be meaningful, have a reason to be and we must have a standard to follow to give the business structure.
- A: ACHIEVABLE, goals should be attainable, and in a time frame no overly complicated, must be something within the capabilities of the business.
- R: RELEVANT, (realistic, reasonable) goals must be related to the business and the stage it is, understanding the environment and the threats it represents but focusing on the opportunities the business idea has.
- T: TIME BOUND goals should be time and cost effective, should have a beginning and end.