Healthy Beginnings

Start Your Own Business

Starting your own business is not just about having a dream. There are real steps to ensure your business is a success. What should you consider before launching your new brainchild? This initial checklist will help to clarify your thinking, while prioritizing some activities for your planning and start up mode.

Find your niche market. It is crucial to know who it is that you intend to attract to your business. Consider what it is people want to buy, not just what you want to sell. Niche markets allow you to focus on meeting the needs of a smaller group of customers without compromising your chance to increase your appeal to a broader market. Successful niche players share a common set of traits. These include a deep understanding of the customers’ needs and the ability to stay engaged with them. The Ideal niche market company consistently produces quality, innovative products and possess a genuine regard for the well-being of both its customers and employees.

Get cash flowing ASAP. You must bring in more cash than you put out. The key is to make sure there is little to no gap between the time you pay for labor and stock inventory and the time you actually get paid. Ideally, you’ll find ways to get money up front and your cash gap will never be an issue. In a professional services business, you can ask for deposits on work up-front, with balances due on delivery. You can do the same in retail, especially on specialty items. Position them as an added value with a way to insure delivery by a specific date.

Keep your costs and expenses low; never pay retail, and look for used or gently used items to furnish your office or retail space. Paying vendors up front gives you leverage for negotiating better prices. Especially in this economic environment, where credit is at a premium, vendors are more willing than ever to find creative ways to finance transactions; a trend that will likely continue over time. Always overestimate expenses and underestimate revenues. Being conservative in your numbers doesn’t mean you are willing to accept those numbers, it just means you are arming yourself with realistic information…

Focus on sales and marketing. In business, nothing happens until a sale is made. From the beginning, you’ll need to find a good way to get leads, convert leads into sales and make sure you keep getting repeat sales from your customers. The way to do this is to find or create a marketing
and sales funnel system that you can work, test, and measure. This should be something that anyone in your company can utilize. Testing and measuring is key to this system. You can’t change what you don’t measure and you can’t tell if a program or strategy is working if you are not faithfully tracking your results.

Your strategy is really very simple. Always be thinking of ways to get more leads, convert those leads into customers, and increase the number of times those customers buy from you. Do any one of those things, while keeping costs down, and you will see more profits. Do all of them and you will see your business really take off!

Don’t discount, add value. Whenever you discount, you are taking money directly out of your pocket and your bottom-line profit. So don’t do it. Instead, create added value propositions all the way up and down your service line. Regardless of the industry, look to hold your price points, increase your margins with low-cost or no-cost extras and any kind of “freemium offerings”. In the end, those little things won’t cost you a lot, but will build up tremendous goodwill and word-of-mouth with your customer base.

Find a Profitable Location. Find a great location that is already frequented by your intended clientele. One way to accomplish this is by surrounding yourself with successful, like-minded business neighbors. It is Important to consider the building space; is it a space that they can build to suit?

Is there ample Parking? Is there a lot of natural light? Is it a convenient location for your customers? For example, are there good restaurants or other nearby businesses that might compliment what your own business has to offer?

There are no mysteries in business or in life; there’s just information you don’t know yet. Prepare as well as you can, knowing you will need to make changes and corrections. When equipped with the right strategy, you can cut time and get to your ultimate destination:
enjoying your own successfully thriving business.

Brad Sugars is the founder and chairman of ActionCOACH, the world’s number one business coaching firm. His “Business is Booming” tour kicks off in North America in March, and will cover 52 cities in the U.S. and Canada. For more information, visit