There are no limits on who can become a great entrepreneur. You don’t necessarily need a college degree, a bunch of money in the bank or even business experience to start something that could become the next major success. However, what you do need is a strong plan and the drive to see it through.

If you’re on Entrepreneur, odds
are you already have the drive, but, you might not know how to start building
your empire.

Check out this step-by-step guide
to help turn your big idea into a successful business.

1. Evaluate yourself.

Why do you want to start a
business? Use this question to guide what kind of business you want to start.
If you want extra money, maybe you should start a side hustle. If you want more
freedom, maybe it’s time to leave your 9-to-5 job and start something new.

Once you have the reason, start
asking yourself even more questions to help you figure out the type of business
you should start, and if you have what it takes.

What skills do you have?

Where does your passion lie?

Where is your area of expertise?

How much can you afford to spend,
knowing that most businesses fail?

How much capital do you need?

What sort of lifestyle do you
want to live?

Are you even ready to be an
entrepreneur?

Be brutally honest with your
answers.

2. Think of a business idea.

Do you already have a killer
business idea? If so, congratulations, you can proceed to the next section. If
not, there are a ton of ways to start brainstorming for a good idea. Here are a
few pointers.

Ask yourself what’s next. What
technology or advancement is coming soon, and how will that change the business
landscape as we know it? Can you get ahead of the curve?

Fix something that bugs you.
People would rather have less of a bad thing than more of a good thing. If your
business can fix a problem for your customers, they’ll thank you for it.

Apply your skills to an entirely
new field. Many businesses and industries do things one way because that’s the
way they’ve always been done. In those cases, a fresh set of eyes from a new
perspective can make all the difference.

Use the better, cheaper, faster
approach. Do you have a business idea that isn’t completely new? If so, think
about the current offerings and focus on how you can create something better,
cheaper or faster.

Also, go out and meet people and
ask them questions, seek advice from other entrepreneurs, research ideas online
or use whatever method makes the most sense to you.

3. Do market research.

Is anyone else already doing what
you want to start doing? If not, is there a good reason why?

Start researching your potential
rivals or partners within the market by using this guide. It breaks down the
objectives you need to complete with your research and the methods you can use
to do just that. For example, you can conduct interviews by telephone or face
to face. You can also offer surveys or questionnaires that ask questions like
“What factors do you consider when purchasing this product or service?” and
“What areas would you suggest for improvement?”

Just as importantly, it explains
three of the most common mistakes people make when starting their market
research, which are:

Using only secondary research.

Using only online resources.

Surveying only the people you
know.

4. Get feedback.

Let people interact with your product
or service and see what their take is on it. A fresh set of eyes can help point
out a problem you might have missed. Plus, these people will become your first
brand advocates, especially if you listen to their input and they like the
product.

One of the easiest ways to
utilize feedback is to focus on “The Lean Startup” approach but it involves
three basic pillars: prototyping, experimenting and pivoting. By pushing out a
product, getting feedback and then adapting before you push out the next
product, you can constantly improve and make sure you stay relevant.

Just realize that some of that
advice, solicited or not, will be good. Some of it won’t be. That’s why you
should have a plan on how to receive feedback.

Here are six steps for handling feedback:

Stop! Your brain will probably be
in an excited state when receiving feedback, and it might start racing to bad
conclusions. Slow down and take the time to consider carefully what you’ve just
heard.

Start by saying ‘thank you.’
People who give you negative feedback won’t expect you to thank them for it,
but doing so will probably make them respect you and encourage them to continue
be honest in the future.

Look for the grain of truth. If
someone doesn’t like one idea, it doesn’t mean they hate everything you’ve just
said. Remember that these people are trying to help, and they might just be
pointing out a smaller problem or solution that you should look into further.

Seek out the patterns. If you
keep hearing the same comments, then it’s time to start sitting up and taking
notice.

Listen with curiosity. Be willing
to enter a conversation where the customer is in control.

Ask questions. Figure out why
someone liked or didn’t like something. How could you make it better? What
would be a better solution?

Also, one way to help you get
through negative feedback is to create a “wall of love,” where you
can post all of the positive messages you’ve received. Not only will this wall
of love inspire you, but you can use these messages later when you begin
selling your product or service. Positive reviews online and word-of-mouth
testimonials can help make a big difference.

5. Make it official.

Get all of the legal aspects out
of the way early. That way, you don’t have to worry about someone taking your
big idea, screwing you over in a partnership or suing you for something you
never saw coming. A quick checklist of things to shore up might include:

Business structure (LLP,
corporation or a partnership, to name a few.)

Business name

Register your business

Permits

License

Necessary bank account

Trademarks, copyrights or patents

While some things you can do on
your own, it’s best to consult with a lawyer when starting out,

so you can make sure you’ve
covered everything that you need.

6. Write your business plan.

A business plan is a written
description of how your business will evolve from when it starts to the finish
product.

As angel investor and
tech-company founder Tim Berry wrote on Entrepreneur, “You can probably
cover everything you need to convey in 20 to 30 pages of text plus another 10
pages of appendices for monthly projections, management resumes and other
details. If you’ve got a plan that’s more than 40 pages long, you’re probably
not summarizing very well.”

Here’s what we suggest should be
in your business plan:

Title page. Start with name the
name of your business, which is harder than it sounds. This article can help
you avoid common mistakes when picking.

Executive summary. This is a
high-level summary of what the plan includes, often touching on the company
description, the problem the business is solving, the solution and why now.

Business description. What kind
of business do you want to start? What does your industry look like? What will
it look like in the future?

Market strategies. What is your
target market, and how can you best sell to that market?

Competitive analysis. What are
the strengths and weakness of your competitors? How will you beat them?

Design and development plan. What
is your product or service and how will it develop? Then, create a budget for
that product or service.

Operations and management plan.
How does the business function on a daily basis?

Finance factors. Where is the
money coming from? When? How? What sort of projections should you create and
what should you take into consideration?

For each question, you can spend
between one to three pages. Keep in mind, the business plan is a living,
breathing document and as time goes on and your business matures, you will be
updating it.

7 Develop your product or service.

After all the work you’ve put
into starting your business, it’s going to feel awesome to actually see your
idea come to life. But keep in mind, it takes a village to create a product. If
you want to make an app and you’re not an engineer, you will need to reach out
to a technical person. Or if you need to mass-produce an item, you will have to
team up with a manufacturer.

When you are ready to do product
development and outsource some of the tasks make sure you:

Retain control of your product
and learn constantly. If you leave the development up to someone else or
another firm without supervising, you might not get the thing you envisioned.

Implement checks and balances to
reduce your risk. If you only hire one freelance engineer, there’s a chance
that no one will be able to check their work. If you go the freelance route,
use multiple engineers so you don’t have to just take someone at their word.

Hire specialists, not
generalists. Get people who are awesome at the exact thing you want, not a
jack-of-all-trades type.

Don’t put all your eggs in one
basket. Make sure you don’t lose all of your progress if one freelancer leaves or
if a contract falls through.

Manage product development to
save money. Rates can vary for engineers depending on their specialties, so
make sure you’re not paying an overqualified engineer when you could get the
same end result for a much lower price.

8 Start building your team.

To scale your business, you are
going to need to hand off responsibilities to other people. You need a team.

Whether you need a partner,
employee or freelancer, these three tips can help you find a good fit:

State your goals clearly. Make
sure everyone understands the vision and their role within that mission at the
very start.

Follow hiring protocols. When
starting the hiring process you need to take a lot of things into
consideration, from screening people to asking the right questions and having
the proper forms.

Establish a strong company
culture.  What makes a great
culture?  What are some of the building
blocks? Keep in mind that you don’t need to have Google’s crazy office space to
instill a positive atmosphere. That’s because a great culture is more about
respecting and empowering employees through multiple channels, including
training and mentorship, than it is about decor or ping-pong tables. In fact,
office perks can turn out to be more like traps than real benefits.

9 Find a location.

This could mean an office or a
store. Your priorities will differ depending on need, but here are 10 basic
things to consider:

Style of operation. Make sure
your location is consistent with your particular style and image.

Demographics. Start by
considering who your customers are. How important is their proximity to your
location? If you’re a retail store that relies on the local community, this is
vital. For other business models, it might not be.

Foot traffic. If you need people
to come into your store, make sure that store is easy to find. Remember: even
the best retail areas have dead spots.

Accessibility and parking. Is
your building accessible? Don’t give customers a reason to go somewhere else
because they don’t know where to park.

Competition. Sometimes having
competitors nearby is a good thing. Other times, it’s not. You’ve done the
market research, so you know which is best for your business.

Proximity to other businesses and
services. This is more than just about foot traffic. Look at how nearby
businesses can enrich the quality of your business as a workplace, too.

Image and history of the site.
What does this address state about your business? Have other businesses failed
there? Does the location reflect the image you want to project?

Ordinances. Depending on your
business, these could help or hinder you. For example, if you’re starting a day-care
center, ordinances that state no one can build a liquor store nearby might add
a level of safety for you. Just make sure you’re not the one trying to build
the liquor store.

The building’s infrastructure.
Especially if you’re looking at an older building or if you’re starting an
online business, make sure the space can support your high-tech needs. If
you’re getting serious about a building, you might want to hire an engineer to
check out the state of the place to get an objective evaluation.

Rent, utilities and other costs.
Rent is the biggest facilities expense, but check out the utilities, as well,
and whether they’re included in the lease or not. You don’t want to start out
with one price and find out it’s going to be more later.

10 Start getting some sales.

No matter your product or industry,
your business’s future is going to depend on revenue and sales.

There are a ton of different
sales strategies and techniques you can employ, but here are four tenets to
live by:

Listen. “When you listen to
your clients/customers, you find out what they want and need, and how to make
that happen,”

Ask for a commitment, but don’t
be pushy about it. You can’t be too shy to ask for a next step or to close a
sale, but you also can’t make customers feel as though you’re forcing them into
a sale.

Don’t be afraid of hearing
“no.Most people are too polite. They let you make your pitch even if they
have no interest in buying. And that’s a problem of its own. Time is your most
important resource.”

Make it a priority.“Actually
creating revenue, and running a profitable business, is a good strategy for
business. Where are we that people think users or visits or time on site is the
proxy to a successful business?”

But how do you actually make
those sales? Start by identifying targets who want your product or service.
Find early adopters of your business, grow your customer base or put out ads to
find people who fit your business. Then, figure out the right sales funnel or
strategy that can convert these leads into revenue.

11 Grow your business.

There are a million different
ways to grow. You could acquire another business, start targeting a new market,
and expand your offerings and more. But, no growth plan will matter if you
don’t have the two key attributes that all growing companies have in common.

First, they have a plan to market
themselves. They use social media effectively through organic, influencer or
paid campaigns. They have an email list and know how to use it. They understand
exactly who they need to target — either online or off — with their marketing
campaigns.

Then, once they have a new
customer, they understand how to retain them. You’ve probably heard many people
state that the easiest customer to sell to is the one you already have. Your
existing customers have already signed up for your email list, added their
credit card information to your website and tested what you have to offer. In
doing so, they’re starting a relationship with you and your brand. Help them
feel as good about that relationship as possible.

Ranjith

Dilzer Consultants Pvt Ltd

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