You know you want to start a small business. You have a great idea. Sometimes the question isn’t “should I?” or “what should my business be?” Instead, it’s “when?”
Figuring out when to launch can be tricky. If it’s too soon, you can be unprepared, leading to problems or even failure. If you wait too long, it could end up being something you endlessly talk about doing but never pull the trigger on. Below are a few things you should consider before proceeding:
In the internet age, you may not need anything more than a connection and the ability to put together a website in order to launch. However, in most cases, you’ll need at least some funding. This doesn’t necessarily have to mean getting millions from investors, but whether you self-fund, apply for grants or find other ways to get the money that you need, what may be most important is that you have some liquidity to carry you through times when cash flow isn’t great.
You may be able to start a business on a shoestring, but it’s hard to persevere for long if you’re waiting on invoices to be paid and you don’t have a cushion to carry you through.
Some industries are heavily regulated. Others are less so, but there may be general regulations regarding running a small business in your area. You might need to look into zoning issues. If ensuring compliance is a significant part of your business or a department in your business, make sure that you have a firm handle on the requirements and how to manage them before you proceed.
Fleet management is an example of an area where following regulations is critical. You must be aware of hours-of-service rules not just in order to avoid violating any laws but for the safety of your drivers. An electronic logging device can take the guesswork out of regulations for you and your drivers, helping you navigate everything from rest breaks to driving limits and more. Do not proceed with launching your company until you have solutions to issues like these nailed down.
Having a Plan
It’s a common error to be so excited about your business that you rush headlong into opening the doors before you’ve really completed a thorough business plan. That plan is important even if you aren’t seeking loans or investors. A business plan is a kind of checks and balances system for you, highlighting and helping you identify deficits in your planning.
Additionally, it will act as a tool to combat stress because once things get going, you’ll have it as a reference to go back to when you are too busy to think straight. Ultimately, your business probably won’t rise or fall on whether or not you’ve accurately projected profits but failing to research your competition and understand your potential customer base can be disastrous.
In particular, you need to ask yourself what need you are fulfilling for those customers, how you are different from the competition, and how you will demonstrate that difference. This needs to go beyond talking to family and friends about your ideas. Surveys and focus groups, for example, can be a good way to get feedback on marketing strategies.