How to Start a Business

Aug 28, 2019


Goals = Growth. Without clearly defined goals new business owners often lack clear direction, get discouraged and quit. It isn't their lack of ability but rather their lack of direction that causes failure to succeed.

It wasn’t until I created a business plan and got clear on the direction I wanted to go that we saw exponential growth. My business plan is my guardrail. Every choice I make, every decision, every expansion we consider is measured for consistency against what we've created and the direction we outlined in that plan.

Here the seven steps I used to create my business plan, put guardrails in place to help guide decision making and give strategic direction to achieve my goals:

  1. Establish your vision and mission.Spend time really thinking through your mission. Evaluate and ask - ‘Why am I doing this?’, ‘What problem am I trying to solve’ and ‘Why does it matter?’
  2. Define your why. Take time to really think through what makes you better; what is it that you’re doing that’s better, special or different from your competitors? By answering these questions, you put the passion behind your purpose.
  3. Plan your goals and objectives.Draft your short-, mid-, and long term goals and a corresponding timeline. What are you going to accomplish within the first month? What would you like to accomplish within that quarter? Where do you envision your business in one year?

Start at your desired end result and work backwards. For example, if your goal is to sell $1,000 within your first month, what do you need to do to make that happen?

  1. Know your audience. A common pitfall among new businesses is trying to acquire everyone as a customer, trying to talk to everyone through key messaging. But the more you do that, the more people you unintentionally weed out. Niche down to scale up!

Write down 3-5 scenarios elaborating on who your audience is. Who is it that you are speaking to and would be engaging with your product/services? Start by asking “Who makes up 80% or more of my audience?” Put yourself in their shoes. How do you want your customers to feel when you’re talking to them? What is the language you’re going to use to engage withn them? 

  1. Build your budget. Your budget and your goals are going to be BFFs! They should be intrinsically linked and grow together. Your budget will include many components, but here are four of the heavy hitters:
    • Inventory
    • Payroll
    • Advertising
    • Overhead (web and/or store fees, etc.) 

Understanding your bottom line will allow you to have a better understanding of what your profit margin needs to be in order to hit that target. From there, you can plan what your top line sales need to be in order to get to that bottom line. 

  1. Create your marketing strategy. Back into step #4. You identified who your customer is and what messaging resonates most with them – now it’s time to determine how you’re going to reach them. What are their behaviors? Where are they spending their time? What channels could you potentially reach them with your messaging? Think through the role social – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter – will play; how will you leverage each platform?
  2. Test, Learn & Repeat! It’s go time! Continue refining your engagement strategies and tactics and customer experience.

Messaging. Try posting the same content and across all of your platforms to see which one drives a stronger reaction and a more enthusiastic response to your call-to-action. Keep track of who’s converting, who's interacting, and what behaviors you’re getting from each platform. 

Customer Experience. Put yourself into the mind of the customer and test your user experience! Try navigating your website, make a purchase, register for your emails. Expand your testing pool by asking friends and family for their feedback!  

The more you test, the more you learn, and the more you can go back to those mid-term and long-term goals to refine them and scale up!


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