“Where do I start?”
With board games, the answer to that question is a little more obvious. Get your green gingerbread man and begin on the bold word START. Then, you draw a card and hope that you don’t get stuck in the Licorice Lagoon. (Candy Land, anyone?).
Sometimes knowing where to start can be the hardest part of a new venture especially when that venture is starting a business. The stakes are a little higher than being ousted from the castle and sent back to START.
The truth is, that those board games may have just given you the best bit of business advice yet.
Begin at the beginning.
You may not have a lot of confidence or resources when you’re standing in that first square after starting. Looking too far ahead seems daunting and you’re not sure where the road will simply bend or end altogether.
There is opportunity every single time you take a step, have a set back, and are oblivious to your surroundings.
As Andy Boynton, co-author of The Idea Hunter, says, “Innovation is not about how smart you are; it’s about the hunt for ideas.” Be more thoughtful of what’s around you and what’s going on in the world to feed your creative flow. Keep a running list of ideas - each is a potential business opportunity. You never know what might spark momentum and have you rolling into your next great idea.
What does all of this vague chattering about opportunities look like?
- Assess your game board for other players.
Network with the business owners you respect. Ask for their advice on resources, business, and planning logistics. This isn’t an opportunity for you to busy yourself with asking and not doing. Network while you work or you’ll find yourself knee deep in Licorice Lagoon (which others refer to as procrastination).
- Keep rolling.
If you roll and lose a turn then take time for a little snack and jump back in next turn! The early stages of your business are going to require you to be your own cheerleader from time to time (okay, maybe all the time). Get used to the sound of your own voice because that’s going to be what gets you where you want to be.
- No cheating.
This is a trick point to make because there’s really no way to cheat your way into being a respectable and lucrative business. You’re going to have to put in the work. No hiding cards from other players or telling them to look the other way while you crush it. No, just coming up with your own new ideas and putting in the elbow grease to make it happen.
- Learn from time.
You may be starting your own business because you’ve spent way too long working for someone you didn’t like doing something you didn’t love for less than you are worth. Let that be a lesson to you as you move forward in your business venture. What about that experience will you take with you as a motivator? How you answer this question will empower you to be the best version of yourself as a business owner and boss.
- Level up, buttercup.
It’s time to buckle down and figure out what your business is going to look like. Start to think about the viability of your favorite business ideas and ask yourself some questions. Eye up the competition. (I see you, yellow gingerbread man!) What do you bring to the table that’s going to keep you from being a fringe contender? How can you fill gaps in the market? How big is your potential client base and what demographics are you targeting? How much is it going to cost to get this idea into the game? These may feel like a lot of questions, but you need to consider them before settling on your business.
With all of that in mind, you need to consider why you want to start a business in the first place. Your motivation and values are important because they will help fuel your business and marketing strategies.
Building Your Business Foundation
The road ahead is long and you want to make sure you’re going the distance by knowing what obstacles you’re likely to face along the way. Make sure you know which type of business will best serve your goals.
Business Structures 101
An unincorporated business with only one owner and is not a taxable entity.
An unincorporated business with two or more owners who hold equal liability and gain equal profits. It is not a taxable entity.
Limited Liability Company (LLC)
In an LLC, business owners are not held personally liable for the actions of the business. An LLC is not a separate taxable entity.
S or C Corporation
A Corporation is a separate legal entity from its owners. Its owners are not held personally liable for the actions of the business. There are two types: S and C. C Corporations pay tax based on income plus the income of the owner or employee. S Corporations don’t pay taxes, the owners report corporation revenue as their personal income. S Corporations are also limited to 100 US shareholders.
Fill in the Gaps
Consider which tools to equip your business with. A well developed infrastructure should make things easier, not give you more work. So be thoughtful about what you need. (For example, some may say that a ridiculously expensive security system may not be a necessary purchase for your eCommerce business.)
Consider actual workflow - do you need employees and where will you be located? If you’re hiring employees, you need to consider what culture you want to build before starting the process. What are the policies that you intend on having in place regarding sick leave, vacation, and termination (believe us, you’ll want to have that one smoothed out ahead of time). Developing a strong culture goes a long way in creating team unity which will only help you in the long run.
As far as location goes, having a home office can save you money if you don’t need a brick and mortar location. Again, you’ll need to ask yourself questions about what you want (and need) your business to look like.
Keep Your Eyes Open
What do successful businesses have in common?
What are other businesses in your field doing?
It’s important to watch your competition to stay ahead of the game, but also to pay attention to business trends in general. And of course, having a strong brand will make sure potential clients know who you are. If you need help making your brand stand out, helping businesses knock out their competition is what PUNCHY does best. Do your own research and look at other businesses who are thriving and take note of what they value and put emphasis on - ask yourself why they’re successful.
Having a plan will keep you on track, but you want to be smart with the goals you write.
Use SMART goals to make quantifiable, achievable goals. The SMART acronym stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound. Basically, you want to be able to easily know when you’ve met your goal, ensure your goal makes sense for your business, and motivate yourself with a timeline.
When making goals, you want to think both in the short and long term. Knowing where you want to be in 10 years is great, but you also need to know what you’re doing next week. Track your progress along the way so you’ll know without a doubt whether or not you’ve met your goals. Planning for the future takes out some of the guesswork, but there will always be things that you won’t see coming. Be prepared to reevaluate your goals and values as needed.
Show Your Value
Your potential clients and partners aren’t going to know the value of your business unless you show them. You’ll want to start building your brand right away so your business can be recognized and begin to build a reputation. Intimately know why your business is so important to you and how it can serve the world in a positive and tangible way. Marketing is tough for a small business, but it’s an essential expenditure. Giving your business a recognizable look and voice in the early months can be done at minimal costs.
Alright, you gingerbread man. It’s time for you to move on to bigger and better games. Take a chance! Roll the dice and keep moving. If you hit adversity (you will) then take a moment to check in with yourself. The “why” behind your business will fuel the “how” and “when”. Choose a business foundation that works best for your business goals. Take a look around you and reach out to business mentors. Make those SMART goals and sketch out a blueprint for how you want your business to be structured.
Get out of that lagoon!
You don’t belong there.
Every business deserves to have the right team behind them and good marketing can make a world of difference. Contact us and we’ll help get started.