While many ideas for businesses never fully come to fruition, some entrepreneurs dream big enough to actually put pencil to paper. Though starting a business amidst the current pandemic might feel impossible, over 69% of American entrepreneurs begin their businesses right from the comfort of their own homes. If you’re wondering how to go about making your own entrepreneurial dreams a reality, consider the steps below on how you can start your own business even during these uncertain times.
Have a Concrete Idea
It’s no secret that many business ideas seem good in theory but become much more complex in practice. Whether your idea for your small business is one you have fleshed out on your own, or one you’ve developed with the help of family and friends, make sure it’s a solid one. A good rule of thumb is to start simple. For example, should your dream be to develop an entire clothing line, it’s probably in your best interest to begin with one category of garment at a time, such as blouses and shirts. Focussing your creative energy on one portion of your idea will likely save you money at the beginning of your business venture, and it will also keep you from feeling overwhelmed as you work to get your business off the ground.
Conduct the Proper Research
The nature of the business world is a competitive one and thus requires the right amount of research if you plan on entering it. Conducting market research along with taking the time to do a full competitive analysis as it pertains to your business is vital to the success of your company. As you do your research, use the questions below as your guide:
- Is there a demand for the product or service your company offers?
- Who is your target consumer?
- What is the population size of the consumers you plan to market to?
- Does your target audience live in your area or are they elsewhere?
- What do you plan on charging for your product or service?
- Who else already offers your product/service and what can you do to set yourself apart?
Though your research isn’t required to be limited to the questions above, answering them will give you a starting point for where you stand amongst your competitors and what you’ll have to do to stand out as a business. For more information on market research and competitive analysis, utilize this guide from the SBA.
Develop a Clear Business Plan
It’s important to note that having a business idea is vastly different from having a business plan. There are numerous online resources available that outline the proper steps for developing such a plan. Block out some time in the coming weeks to sit down and write. A simple Google search on how to write a business plan should suffice for the information you’ll need to get things started. If you plan on presenting your finished plan to investors, be sure to keep it concise and to know your audience. However, if you’re composing your plan simply to keep yourself on track, make sure you’re using the future as your guide. Have an emergency fund should things go south, and look for ways your business can adapt should the pandemic continue for longer than expected. Business plans are essential to the overall success of your company and are a perfect guide for you to stay on track and organized.
Know Your Funding Options
Once you have a plan in place for your company and you’ve done the proper research, the final piece to the puzzle is locking down your funding. While there are plenty of options to choose from, make sure you consider non-traditional funding methods such as:
Crowdfunding: As the name suggests, this funding alternative is all about who you know. If you’re a big networker, this may be a great option for you aside from a regular business loan. Take to your social media outlets or even create a GoFundMe page and get the word out. Though those who fund your business are not guaranteed a return, you can always offer them perks when you do get your business off the ground.
Home Equity Loans: While most individuals use home equity loans for affording a college education or for funding a home renovation, they can also be used to cover business expenses. The appeal of a home equity loan comes from it’s low interest rates, making them a stable option long term. If you are unfamiliar with how these loans work, use this home equity loan resource as your guide should you be interested in using one to fund your business.
Microfinancing: This option of funding was developed specifically for entrepreneurs who may not even have the option to go traditional with their funding. Microfinance organizations provide small loans in order to help entrepreneurs get their business off the ground in the beginning. Microfinancing is an option for those who want to achieve their dreams but have no collateral to do so. For more information on microfinancing, consider this article on: what is microfinance?
While traditional business loans are still an option, the unique choices listed above may be more viable funding alternatives during these uncertain times.
As you put the steps above into action, remember to stay focussed on your goals. Starting a business can be overwhelming and discouraging at times, so be sure to maintain a strict budget and use your business plan as your guide when you feel lost. With the right research, a clear plan, and the proper funding, any business dream can be made possible.
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