Launching a business requires both attention to detail and long-term planning. Whether or not you have any formal training in business, such as a college degree, you’ll likely make a few mistakes along the way. However, with a little research and advice from experienced entrepreneurs, you can avoid the following common missteps:
1. Starting Without a Solid Business Plan
A business plan serves as your business’s roadmap. It will tell you, and your investors, where you plan to go and how you plan to get there. The document will include elements like your management structure, marketing strategy, products or services you intend to offer, and pricing structures.
Without a comprehensive business plan, you run the risk of confusing or misinforming potential investors. Without meticulous strategizing and documentation, investors won’t see the potential of your ideas or the market demand for your goods or services.
2. Overlooking Market Research
Like your business plan, market research is essential. It’s time-consuming and tedious but will tell you a lot about the area. For instance, are you looking to open a coffee shop in a college town? Great, you will probably have a lot of business. But what if there are four coffee stands on campus and another ten in the immediate vicinity?
Market research will tell you where the vacuum is in the market. Maybe there are fourteen coffee places within a ten-minute walk of any given spot on campus, but do any of them offer small-batch roasted coffee roasted on-site? That could be your edge in your business.
3. Overspending Right Out of the Gate
Starting a new business is exciting, and it can be tempting to buy the most luxurious furniture for your storefront, overspend on tech, or put a little too much capital into web design.
Get excited about your business, but also look critically at everything you want to purchase and make sure it’s completely necessary. Would the $1,000 security cameras be great to have? Absolutely, but will the $250 security cameras do the job? Possibly. That’s for you to decide, but make sure you spend your money wisely.
4. Skipping Out on Essential Insurance Coverage
Purchasing insurance is one of the more complicated steps to starting a business, but it’s crucial, even though most business insurance forms aren’t legally required. The last thing you need as a new business is to have a customer slip and fall in your business and file a lawsuit for injury when you don’t have the right small business insurance to cover it.
5. Not Seeking Legal Support
It is very tempting not to pay lawyers for something you think you know the answer to, but it could end up costing you down the line. Lawyers are there to help you navigate the legal issues of owning a business, such as protecting your intellectual property. Getting patents or copyrights on your IP will help prevent others from stealing it. Having a lawyer on retainer will also help if a customer ever decides to sue over an issue with your product or services.
6. Failing to Create a Consistent Brand
Successful branding comes back to the idea of having a business plan. Your brand is how your customers identify you—if you don’t have a solid idea of your brand when you first open your business and change directions multiple times, your customers won’t trust you or understand your mission.
Are you the construction company that only works on private homes, or do you branch out? Do you have a strong community service orientation, or are you more focused on creating a local business community? How you present your business matters and create a consistent brand will help build your business awareness.
7. Not Investing in Digital Advertising
Advertising and marketing are essential when you first open a business—it’s not enough to depend on word of mouth or asking your friends to share your business social media page. You will need to invest in some local and digital ad space. If you don’t have the expertise to design an SEO-optimized website or create engaging videos, you may want to consider working with a digital agency to get started.
Withstanding the Test of Time
You are excited about your business idea, and you likely want to rush full steam ahead into opening day. However, if you hope to launch a business that endures the test of time, you need to first think about the details. Take some time, take a deep breath, and do the groundwork that will help you make the best of your business opening.