Entrepreneurs tell me all the time that they would do things differently if they ever went back to start over. Their steps to start a business would look very different in the future than in the past.
Over the years I’ve done an informal poll and asked them about what they would do if someone ever hit “reset” and they had to begin again. Below are the synthesized ideas they’ve suggested. With minor variations (depending on your market or local governance), these are the entrepreneur’s dream steps to start a business.
Step 1. Uncover a problem in the market. Find something that people have a problem doing and solve it for them. I like the saying “there’s money in the pain”. People will be willing to buy from you if you solve a problem for them.
Step 2. Hone your skill. Find out what your expertise is, figure out how you’re different from other service providers, and determine how you can be the expert. Take classes. Volunteer with local experts. Network with market leaders and pick their brains. Read everything you can get your hands on about the topic.
Step 3. Start creating online content (through blogs, articles, and forum participation, just to name a few). Slowly build up a body of work that associates your name with the problem and the solution. More importantly, slowly build up an audience. Don’t worry if you have nothing to sell yet. You want their respect first.
Step 4. Monetize. This is a surprising part in the steps to start a business because many newbie entrepreneurs try to monetize way too early before they have any kind of reputation. Get your reputation and the money will follow easily.
Step 5. Dot your I’s and cross your T’s. Your local government may have legal requirements for you to officially become a business. (This might need to take place before step 4, depending on where you live). Contact your local government for guidance.
Step 6. Take it to the next level. Once you’re legally able to sell your products, take your marketing to the next level. Look at Google AdWords or Facebook ads, if appropriate, or consider hiring a marketer or assistant to take care of some of the marketing for you.
Step 7. Aim to get your first ten customers. The first ten customers can be the most difficult so aim to sell to them. Find them in family, friends, colleagues, previous employees, and (most importantly) from the audience you’ve been building. After that, it could be a piece of cake!
These steps to start a business won’t guarantee success but they will put you on the right track. Mix in your skills, a willing market, and even a bit of luck and you’ll have a thriving business on your hands.