Many people have great ideas or amazing skills, but are intimidated mightily by the idea of starting their own business. But starting a business is easier than you might think. In fact, with the right information and motivation, you can start a business in one month. Think that’s crazy? The steps below show you how to make it happen!
Step #1: Come up with a killer idea!
The ways in which individuals come to their great business ideas are as varied as snowflakes. Some budding entrepreneurs nurture an idea for many years, tirelessly refining it along the way until the moment is absolutely perfect to release it to the world. Other people are hit with a lightning bolt one day, and are ready to go right into business. No matter how you and your idea come together, the one month plan starts right when your business idea is ready to go.
Tip: A business coach can help turn the idea in your head into a reality.
Step #2: Learn about your market
The first month of your business’ life is the most important. And one of the crucial first steps in the process involves researching the market in which you plan on doing business. Take two days and study the competitive landscape. During this period you should:
- Look at what your potential competitors are doing in terms of pricing, product or service offerings and marketing methods.
- Seek out opportunities that your competitors may be missing. Are there demographics that are being underserved? Is there an opportunity to price your products or services in such a way that it will open up NEW markets?
- Create a competitive analysis that you can use as a reference tool moving forward.
Tip: Use Microsoft PowerPoint to create your competitive analysis.
Step #3: Create a business plan
After you’ve completed two days of competitive analysis, it is time to craft the most crucial part of your new business to this point – the business plan. The business plan, or business proposal, serves two purposes: it explains to potential partners, investors and clients what your business is all about, and helps you form a clear plan for the first years of your business.
Tips from expert business plan writers
- Start with a clear, concise purpose statement. Sum up your business in a short paragraph.
- Get into details. Really use the business plan to show that you are well-versed in your chosen industry and know exactly what you hope to accomplish.
- Include detailed financial projections for the next three years.
Tip: Hire a professional business plan writer who has experience working with small businesses and start ups.
Step #4: Get financing
Once the business plan is complete, it is time to focus on the capital that will get you off the ground. For many people, obtaining financing is the most intimidating part of starting a business, but there are several sources for money that generate start up funds quick – and considering we’re getting your business up in just a month, time is of the essence!
Sources for obtaining financing include: family and friends, business grants from the government, business loans at banks or other lending institutions and venture capitalists. With the exception of family and friends, all these sources will be more likely to give you money if your business plan is an A-plus and your pitch is detailed, smart and enthusiastic.
Step #5: Creating a legal business entity
While you are waiting for your financing to come through, make good use of the time by incorporating your business and turning it into a legal entity.
Becoming a legal entity is one of the smartest decisions that a business owner can make. Legal entities such as S-Corps, C-Corps and LLCs help protect the business owner financially if anything were to go wrong with their business. Say a business goes bankrupt. If that happens to a legal entity, it is the business that owes the debt and not the individual. This can protect your home and other investments if the unthinkable were to happen.
And the protection is not just bankruptcy related. If an employee or customer is injured at your place of business, or feels that you have wronged them and wants to pursue legal action, the Corporation would pay the bills or any financial settlements.
Tip: In most states, creating a legal business entity is a relatively easy process and can be completed in a matter of days. Utilize business incorporation services to ensure a proper business structure. Business.com has a great infographic on choosing a business structure that is best for you.
Step #6: Branding your business
Now it’s time to get to the fun stuff. Branding is one of the most important, yet oft overlooked elements of building a business. This is where you can really start to set your business apart from the crowd. Logos, the “voice” of your message, and even the name of your business all should communicate what makes your company special – and explain to the customer (in a matter of seconds) why they need to be doing business with you.
TIP: We should be well into the second or third week of our one-month plan at this point, so if you don’t feel comfortable working with design and copy yourself, hire a professional who can do the job fast, creatively and most of all, cost effectively.
Step #7: Crafting the Marketing Plan
After your business plan, the next most important document you will ever create is your marketing plan. How you spend your precious marketing dollars can be the difference between success and failure when starting a small business. Again, working with a marketing professional can be a wise investment. These marketing pros make it their business to know what techniques work best with certain demographics, and know all the “tricks of the trade” when it comes to reaching them.
But whether you hire a professional, or give it a run on your own, consider the following types of marketing when allocating your budget.
- Offline marketing – Includes direct mail, flyers, print advertising in newspapers and magazines, radio, television, billboards and other forms of “traditional” media.
- Online marketing – It’s hard to imagine a business that is not currently investing some of its marketing spend into online efforts. The major forms of online marketing include: website development, search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click advertising (PPC), email blasts, online newsletters, banner ads, blogs, viral marketing and social media marketing.
The beauty of online marketing, especially in terms of our one-month goal, is that it can be implemented and up and running fast!
Tip: If you choose an online marketing agency, they will work with you to pinpoint where, exactly, your potential customers “live” online, and begin developing campaigns to reach them at the exact moment they are looking for your product!
Step #8: Getting leads and selling your products or services
Now that the marketing plan is up and running, it is time to start converting your leads into sales. Take a couple of days and refine your pitch. Map out the benefits of your business and drill them down into “talking points” which will genuinely resonate with your target audience.
TIP: If you are having trouble generating quality leads, you can turn to a sales rep for some “instant offense.” Sales representatives generally work for commission and know how to bring in business.
Step #9: Finding the right employees
With so much to do, it is going to be difficult to do this on your own. Hiring employees is the next logical step to growing your business. Here are some tips for bringing in people who provide top returns on your investment:
- Understand your needs – Before you hire anyone, prioritize what you need the most, and go out in search of trustworthy, experienced individuals to fill those needs.
- Look for multi-faceted individuals – New businesses can benefit greatly from hiring individuals who wear a lot of different hats.
- Use all the online tools at your disposal – Monster.com, HotJobs.com and Craigslist have all made hiring employees easier than ever. Just be sure to always check references and perform a thorough interview process.
- Perform an employee background check before hiring the person. It is a well known fact that many people lie on their resume and in their interviews.
Tip: A corporate recruiter or headhunter can do all the legwork for you in your search for qualified employees.
And there you have it! With good planning, total commitment and some seriously hard work, everything listed above will help you get your business up and running in about a month. Be thoughtful and detail-oriented during these steps. You are forming the foundation of your dream business, and the more you put into these core business processes on the front end, the more rewards you will enjoy down the line.