The Basics of Business
Feeling overwhelmed? Start by breaking down your ideas into manageable and action-able tasks. This is a great simple one-page business plan template from Entrepreneur
- Define your vision. What will be the end result of your business?
- Define your mission. Different to a vision, your mission should explain the reason your company exists.
- Define your objectives. What are you going to do — what are your goals — that will lead to the accomplishment of your mission and your vision?
- Outline your basic strategies. How are you going to achieve the objectives you just bulleted?
- Write a simple action plan. Bullet out the smaller task-oriented actions required to achieve the stated objectives.
Want something more detailed? Grab this…
Branding – What’s in a name?
Branding is a way of identifying your business. It is how your customers recognise and experience your business. A strong brand is more than just a logo; it’s reflected in everything from your customer service style, staff uniforms, business cards and premises to your marketing materials and advertising. Source
I would go further and say that your branding should also reflect your business principles and values, as such it makes sense that this is one of the first things you will need to decide. Your business brand also needs to be incorporated into your business plan. (see above).
Be authentic – Your brand should reflect the personality and values of your business. When you are developing a brand, make sure you are honest about what your business is like and who your customers are. Customers can be put off if their experiences with a business are different from what the branding promises to deliver.
Tell the story of your business -You can start developing your brand by considering the story of your business – how it started, what you hope to achieve, who you hope to appeal to. Your story should be a key component of your brand.
Keep it simple – Keep your branding simple and relevant to the types of customers you are trying to attract. Adding too many elements, such as colours, fonts and images, can make your brand difficult to use and hard to recognise. A simple brand is easier for customers to understand, and will convey a strong message about what your business is like and what customers can expect.
Be consistent – Make sure you are consistent in the way you use your brand. A good way of managing a brand is to develop a style guide or manual. This will include all the elements of your brand, from fonts and colours through to communication style. Numerous examples of branding style guides are available on the internet.
Define your Target Market
You may also know this as Avatar, Buyer Persona etc.) – this has 2 parts
- Demographic Profile of Target Customers (important for clients with local customers) – Consider Gender, Age, Occupation, Income, Location, Industry etc
- Psychographic Profile of Target Customers – Things to consider
- The frame of mind of your ideal customer.
- What things do they care strongly about? What will generate an emotional response from them. – Opinions, Attitudes, Values
- What do they do for fun? (competitive sports, travel overseas) – Activities, Interests etc
Your USP (Unique Selling Point)
A unique selling proposition (USP, also seen as unique selling point) is a factor that differentiates a product from its competitors, such as the lowest cost, the highest quality or the first-ever product of its kind. A USP could be thought of as “what you have that competitors don’t.”
Your website is your calling card and a vital part of your business whether you have a shopfront or are purely online.
Read more about websites and Content Marketing, SEO and more.
Your ability to acquire the money you need, and account for the money you receive.
Start up costs
Every business is different so this will depend largely on the nature of your business you want to start. For an online business you can reduce start up costs by
- Starting small
- Starting Lean by using cheap or free services to begin with (here’s some ways to save on marketing)
- Make money as soon as possible by selling something valuable – focus on being of help rather than making money to really kick start you!
Running costs – overheads
- Try to spread costs with monthly payments
- Correct pricing – Honestly pass on costs to your customers where possible
Invoicing and Money collection
- Use a system, any system to stay on track with invoicing and payments – an excel spreadsheet works fine
- Establishing tight financial controls, good budgeting practices, accurate bookkeeping and accounting methods, all backed by an attitude of frugality
Ensure you know how you will be taxed on your income and how to keep accurate records that will satisfy the tax department at year end. Better to have an early conversation with an accountant to get you properly set up than to have nasty surprises at year end. Keep your personal and business accounts separate to avoid confusion.
Your operations will be completely different dependent on whether you sell products or services, where you sell them and if they are physical or virtual.
Regardless, from the beginning, it’s vital that you create and record your systemisation. Processes, procedures and standards explain how a business should operate.
For example, a service based business may want to:
- put a process in place to generate leads to drive customer conversions
- create mandatory procedures for staff that are opening and closing the business daily
- set a standard (policy) for staff clothing and quality of customer service.
Business processes, procedures and standards are vital for training staff and induction programs, as well as formal processes like staff performance reviews.
Processes and procedures
Creating and maintaining formalised processes and procedures for your business can save you time and money by increasing efficiency. Staff can get more done in less time by following set processes and procedures, and you can spend less time overseeing the day-to-day running of the business. Processes and procedures can also improve the consistency of product and service delivery by your staff.
Standards and policies
By creating standards and policies for your business, you set benchmarks that your staff must meet.
For example, you may have a standard for serving customers that involves being courteous, completing transactions within a certain time, and doing everything in your power to accommodate customer requests. This can improve the experience of your customers, suppliers and/or distributors in their dealings with you.
Customers who have a positive experience are more likely to become repeat customers, and are less likely to complain about your business.
Start by spreading the word in inexpensive and creative ways.
Use your existing network – family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances.
If you have a service-based business, get involved with a local chamber of commerce or small-business chapter and ask what resources are available for you to speak, present or share information about your business.
If you have a product-based business, test the viability of your product at local swap meets, farmers markets or other community events to test what the public really thinks (and if they’ll purchase) from you.
Drive traffic to your website through simple Facebook Ads with capped budgets, or set up a simple Google AdWords account with a budget cap to test if traffic is going to your site.
LEARN ALONG THE WAY
Expect to make mistakes along the way. This is normal and so long as you learn from them, also beneficial.
Read more about why problems are good in Simplify and Go. Mistakes allow us to change, adapt and grow. They teach us what to do more of and, equally, less of. Be open-minded and creative, look for opportunities, and have fun!