Most people who are starting a new business, do it to make themselves more money.
Now this may seem obvious, however the high percentage of business failures clearly indicates that while the intentions are good, the execution is poor. Build a house without a blueprint and you’ll have a lopsided structure that could collapse at any minute. Build a business in the same fashion, and you’ll get an equally unstable result.
If you’re going to do it, do it right. Starting a new business begins with the end in mind. If you know your destination, the itinerary comes together easily. If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll be all over the map.
Here are the steps you need to consider when starting a new business:
1. Start With Something You Like To Do
Whether you’re looking for spending money or an entirely new career, start with something you enjoy doing. I’ve seen so many people “crash and burn” by running where they think the money is. As soon as the going gets tough, they quit.
Make a list of things you enjoying doing. This could be your line of work, your hobbies, or your “things to try in this lifetime” list.
2. Find Out What People Want
If starting a new business, you want other people to give you their money, you need to give them what they want in exchange. Find out what people are willing to pay for, and then start building your concept around that. So many people get this backward. They figure out what they want to sell instead of determining what others want to buy. Don’t make this mistake.
Research is the key. Fortunately, the Internet makes this fast and easy. Here are a few suggestions:
Go over to both Alexa.com and Technorati.com to see the most popular sites on the web in different categories. You can see the most visited sites web-wide, or the top Travel sites, Shopping sites, Entertainment sites, Health sites, etc. This gives you an idea of what people are looking for.
Sign up for the keyword ezine at Wordtracker.com. This resource gives you the top 200 keywords people are searching for in the search engines. You’ll almost always see MP3, sex, Napster, Yahoo, and Britany Spears, however you’ll also see a lot of other phrases that will send your brain into overtime. This week’s list including phrases like Travel, Disneyland, Paris, Food, Research, Song Lyrics, and Music. Any of your interest coincide with what others are looking for?
Check out the forums in your area of interest at places like Yahoo! Groups. Or, tool around Facebook for favourite groups. You’ll see first hand what people are talking about, and you can ask questions, solve problems, and get some great ideas.
3. Determine Your Niche
Now that you know what you like to do and what others are looking for, try to create a niche. The narrower, the better. Let’s say that you like to shop when you travel. Travel is too broad. Shopping is too broad. Great shopping in New York City (or Detroit, Madrid, Moscow, etc.) is also too broad.
But great diamond shopping in New York City is a niche. Where to find car deals in Detroit is a niche. Stocking your bar with Spanish wines is a niche. Where to find jeans in Moscow is a niche.
Don’t be a little fish in a big pond. Be a big fish in a little pond. Dominating your niche allows you to do that. Define and dominate. It makes a bigger bank account.
4. Decide What To Do
If you’re starting a new business and working a full time job, running a house, spending time with your kids, etc., your time is at a premium. You need to be realistic in what you can do. If you like to travel and shop, your ultimate goal may be to conduct shopping tours or write about the different places to shop while you’re traveling the globe.
But don’t put your life on hold until you can have your goal. Work towards it. If you have 2 to 5 hours a week, for example, you have a couple of things you can do to make money and hone your skills. You could:
A. Write articles about the shopping in your area. You could sell this to your local newspaper travel and/or lifestyle sections, a regional magazine, national and international travel magazines, and national and international magazines in your area of interest (like diamonds, car deals, wines, and jeans, from above).
B. Create an information product about the shopping in your area for sale to travelers coming your way. My bookshelves have many such regional titles from our travels, including Plantations of Louisiana”, “The Decorative Iron Works of New Orleans”, “The Ghosts of Charlottesville and Albemarle”, “Texas Travel Guide”, “What To Do in San Francisco”, a copy of the Mayflower Compact of 1620, and so forth. We picked up most of them in the gift shops of the tourist places we visited.
C. Become an affiliate for different programs in your area of interest. Focus, focus, focus, and deliver with a twist.
Love finding diamond deals in New York? Give tips and tricks of where to go and what to look for and become a reseller for airline tickets, hotel rooms, Broadway shows, and jewelry supplies like cleaners, safes, and insurance riders.
Know the best places to find wine in Spain? Write about local festivals and events and become a reseller for airline tickets, hotel rooms, restaurants, car rental, wine cellar supplies and books about wines.
The fastest, cheapest way to put up a web site and maintain control? Buy a Site Build It! license and follow the instructions. Not only will this program walk you step-by-step through defining a niche and figuring out the marketing angle, it hosts your domain and handles all the technical web stuff so all you have to do is market. VERY cool!
5. Determine If It’s Feasible
Can you deliver your idea? If you have a fantasy about writing however can’t string two words together, taking a writing course. If you want to conduct shopping tours to the Big Apple, can you manage all the details that are involved? If you want to export Spanish wines, do you know all that’s entailed in exporting? If not, find out.
Sometimes you’ll discover that you’re in way over your head. That’s okay. The time to determine this is BEFORE you sink a lot of money into the venture. Now having said that, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should “chunk” the idea. Rework it until it IS something you can manage. Start small. Grow. Learn.You can build it to your ideal later, when you have more resources and experience under your belt.
6. Test, Test, Test
Do you have a winner? You don’t know yet. When starting a new business, put it in front of some people who are likely to buy it and see if they do. If they don’t, change something – the title, the presentation, the sales pitch. Try it again. If they bite, you have a winner. If they don’t, change something else and try again. Try to find out why they are or are not buying. You’re looking for feedback at this point. You also want to work out “all the kinks” before it gets to market.
This is another area where so many people drop the ball. They roll out their product and assume it will be a best seller. On rare occasions, it is. More often then not, it isn’t.
Some people will like what you have. If you have a few sales, you’re striking a chord. However if your sales are very few in comparison to your traffic, you’re missing something that’s keeping more people from buying. Your task is to determine what that “something” is. Testing will tell you.
7. Promote, Promote, Promote
Once you have something people want and are willing to pay for, tell as many people as you can as often as you can. Don’t neglect the marketing when starting a new business. Only a handful of people are actively looking for what you have to offer. Everyone else is waiting for you to come to them. So go – and make it easy for them to buy from you.
Then keep in touch. If you they bought from you once, chances are, they’ll buy from you again.
Seem simple? It should be. Don’t make it more complicated than it is.
Good luck in starting a new business!