If you are thinking about launching a business, the assumption is you have asked yourself a few questions and answered them in a way that convinced you that entrepreneurship is your thing.
You have decided that you are willing to risk failure and you are more comfortable with failure than never trying. Someone reading this may wonder why I focus on failure instead of success. Well everyone sets out to win but in trying to win there are challenges and risks that we all must be aware of, so that when we proceed, if we so decide after evaluating and recognising the risks involved, we are fully prepared to deal with things not going our way.
When a final decision has been made to go into business, here are the 10 steps that must be taken to launch:
1Learn through experience
Seek industry leaders if possible that can teach you how to operate in your chosen field. Volunteer to work for them if you have to just to see how a business is run on a day to day basis. It is not always possible to dedicate that amount of time to learning as some of you may have other obligations such as a job or school.
However, in your spare time, find a way to interact with people that have done it before, sometimes it may require asking for a chance to interview them or reading articles that feature them. Research as much as you can the industry icons and absorb as much information as possible on how they built their empires.
2Focus on one idea
It is a common theme for entrepreneurs to have multiple business ideas. Valid ones for that matter. However, focus and discipline is necessary to curb the enthusiasm. Pick one idea and focus all your attention to it.
This does not in any way suggested you bin the rest. It just says have the patience to build your empire a brick at a time to avoid stretching yourself too thin. The last thing you need at this stage is fractured focus.
3Have an implementation timeline
A journey without a destination ends up anywhere and everywhere. There is a need for a roadmap. You are not going through one of the toughest expeditions just for the sake of being on one. There is a specific reason you are starting a business and that goal requires a structure that can provide useful feedback on the progress made to get to the destination.
The feedback mechanism can only be useful if it is informed by the the plan, and such a mechanism should have tools that enable monitoring and evaluation. What should be achieved by when and by who, with which resources.
4Take stock of your soldiers
What tools – physical and intellectual – do you have at your disposal in pursuing the set goals? You need to record these, include everything and identify gaps if any in order to come up with hacks to supplement the available resources.
The practice of identifying resources available to you helps you to maximise the potential of each, a process that may not be easily achieved if you do not have a clear idea of resources at your disposal. Resources can be employees, mentors, materials, contacts, money etc.
5Know who you exist for and test the waters with them
Every product or service has its intended market or client base. A specific one for that matter. Your product or service should be tested on segments of the intended market available to you. For example, I had an idea to make hand and body lotion, it had both males and females as target customers and before I could go as far as registering a business I made a sample and gave it to my colleagues for free.
The only requirement was for them to provide feedback on what can be improved. They liked the product so much that some even started placing orders for their families, of course with recommendations on how it can be improved to be a better product for them.
6Find proof of concept
Sometimes we build products or offer services out of passion. The product or service may not necessarily be a viable offering but because of our emotional attachment to the service or product, we could fail to realise that its just something nice to have but not necessarily a product the market needs.
We have to test if there exists a need for the product and we do so by producing a few units then try to sell them to strangers, this process will inform us if we have a viable concept or not. I suggest strangers because family and friends have a way of supporting anything we do to a point where we can never know how genuine their feelings about a product are. You may find yourself building a network and new connections from the process. If strangers buy the product then proceed to production if not, go back to the drawing board.
7Increase production and sell your product
Establish distribution channels, build a network of players in the value chain and explore all possible avenues to get your product or service to your customers. Get the intellectual property protected.
8Market the product or service
Meet people where they are, preferably where they are relaxed and comfortable. This may include reaching them on their favourite social media platforms, in their favourite magazine, through their favourite musicians, artists and their favourite hang out spots. Just get everywhere they are as long as it’s humanly and financially possible to do so.
9Establish a brand
Build your brand through a powerful company name, logo and slogan that’s unique and catchy. Attach a person that has the qualities you want your brand to be associated with to the product or service and use the potency of poetry, the strength of music and the beauty of visual arts to communicate what your brand stands for, who it represents and exists for and how it enhances the lives of those it exists for.
10Always seek to improve
Keep learning, keep reading, keep listening and keep watching what happens around you. Innovate, predict future patterns and care about what your intended customers care about. Never relax because the world is changing at such a rapid pace you may lose to others for blinking even for just one minute.
10 and a half – maintain a growth and an opportunity mindset.