Starting a Business Cheat Sheet

Small businesses have grown since the recession.  In the past few years, the nation has seen the highest number of new startups.  We also have a historic number of small business failures.  Would-be entrepreneurs could very well use cheat sheets to steer them through their business ventures.  A business cheat sheet is a business-planning checklist that can increase your chance of business success.  Numerous books and business articles teach the secrets to startup success.  Here is a cheat sheet for starting a business.

1.  Business Idea – Your idea of a product or service must be profitable and allow you to reach your financial goals.  It should match your passion, strengths and expertise. 

2.  Research – Find out if there are similar existing products or services.  How is the industry doing?  Is there room for another company like yours?  Talk to people who know the market and its competitors.  What do customers like about your competitors’ products?  How will your business differ from your competitors?  Speak to customers who patronize their products or services.  Do they have suggestions on how to improve the products or services?  Do you offer advantages over your competitors?  From your research, you will understand which products work or sell, and which do not. 

3.  Financing – How much money do you need to start your business?  Traditional lending institutions frequently deny loan applications from start-ups.  Initially, you may have to finance the business yourself.  Stick to your budget.  Start small with whatever you can raise from other sources like friends or family.  Prepare a business plan to be presented to potential lenders and investors.

4.  Test the market – Test your products in the market – their quality, pricing, packaging, branding, marketing or distribution.  How do customers respond to them?  Make adjustments to your products if warranted.  How do they fare compared to the competitors’?  Are they better, cheaper, and more accessible?  Develop a fast and inexpensive means to manufacture your products. 

5.  Prepare yourself – If you lack the experience, work in a similar business for a while before starting your business.  Study the industry you are getting into.  Aim to be the best.  Build a reputation that revolves around the quality of the products and / or services you offer.  Take entrepreneurship courses.  Entrepreneurs have the courage to try out new things, persevere in the face of difficulties, and learn from their experiences to succeed.  Develop your business skills – how to deal with employees, suppliers and customers.

6.  Building Your Team – Determine the number of employees that you need.  Recruit employees with relevant experience in the industry.  You should be able to communicate the company mission to employees, so everyone will work together to achieve your goals.

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