Once you’ve come to the decision to take your great idea and turn it into a business, there can be a huge temptation to hit the ground running.
I’d like to talk about why that’s not the best idea.
Before you hit the Launch button, it’s important to take some time to set up a solid foundation for your business. Think about it: do you want to have your ducks in a row before you open for business or do you want to scramble to put processes in place along the way?
Getting organized before you launch will save you endless headaches later.
So, what do you need to figure out before you turn on your digital ‘open’ sign?
What are your goals?
What are your goals for your business for the first three months? For the first six months? For the first year? Will you be focused mostly on selling? Or maybe on building up your brand and nurturing relationships? Build up a plan for what you want to focus on at various points in your business. Come up with milestones you’d like to hit, and when you’d like to hit them. This will give you a basic plan to work with, though you should be open to revisiting and tweaking this plan along the way.
What is your professional focus?
We all have strengths and weaknesses. The best thing that you can do for your business is figuring out your strengths — and how you are going to prioritize the tasks that let you do what you do best. Are you a natural at sales? Are you an operations genius? Do you excel at marketing and creative tasks? You serve your business best when you focus on your natural skills, so you need to figure out how to let your gifts shine. Which leads us to the next question…
What can you outsource?
Are you able to outsource specific tasks that fall outside of your skillset? Even if you’re only able to outsource small aspects of your business, it’s still better than taking on all of the different tasks yourself. Perhaps you can hire a part-time employee or pay a freelancer to help out on occasion. Maybe you’re able to take on a co-op student. Maybe you’re able to use automation to take care of certain processes. Sit down and brainstorm all of the options and then decide which is the most realistic and the best fit for your business.
What technology will you work with?
It’s important to devote time to researching the myriad technological tools currently available to help you with your business. When it comes to technology, changing horses mid-stream can be challenging at best and a nightmare at worst, so make sure that you choose software or platforms that fit well with your business’s needs and budget. Read reviews, ask for recommendations, and definitely read the fine print for your options. The right software for you should include the features you need, fit your budget, and offer an appropriate level of customer and technical support.
How will you spend your time?
As tempting as it sounds, you don’t want to just wake up each morning and do whatever you feel like doing that day. Developing a calendar is important — it can help you stay on track and prevent important tasks from falling off your radar. Figure out when you will work on sales and when you will focus on operations. Schedule regular sessions to follow-up with prospects or create new content for your blog. And, at least once a month, schedule yourself a free hour or so of creative time to just kick back with a mug of tea and brainstorm new ideas for your business.
How will you build connections?
Often, one of the questions that can determine the success of your business in the early days is “who do you know?” Having a healthy network of connections can be extremely helpful, whether they wind up being prospects, are able to connect you with other helpful people, or are willing to act as knowledgeable sounding boards for your ideas.
There are a lot of ways to build and nurture connections with people. You could look into tradeshows or industry conferences in your area and meet people there. You could connect with other industry professionals and influencers on LinkedIn or Twitter and interact with them. You could find (or even organize) more intimate networking events in your city. Once you’ve established a relationship, you can nurture it by checking in from time to time: email a relevant article or blog post, congratulate them on a professional milestone, or pass along an invitation to an industry event. Before you launch your business, take stock of the connections that you currently have and brainstorm how you can increase that number. You never know when you’ll be able to use a helping hand!