You have an idea for a business. It’s always been your dream. You even told yourself “2017 is the year!” We are half way through the year, how’s your plan going?
If you haven’t started, what’s stopping you?
What if there was a way to start this weekend and increase your chances of success?
There is! And it starts with a device 32,000 times stronger than the computer used by NASA to put Neil Armstrong on the moon.
All you need is a smartphone and an idea to start a successful business.
Why? When we think about starting a business, our thinking is often stuck in the past:
- I need a business plan.
- I need to find money.
- I don’t have the time.
This way of thinking is out-of-date and potentially detrimental to your dreams of building a business.
- Don’t get stuck on the business plan – you can’t predict how the market will react to your business any more than you can predict lottery numbers.
- Demand for your product is only proven by paying customers – anyone can and will say yes if they don’t have to actually commit. Talk is cheap.
- Investment at the wrong time can be fatal – prove the business works first and generate income, then introduce investment to scale.
To start a business in today’s economy, it’s best to start small and use the power of the technology you already own to:
- Maximize your time, minimize your risk. Use the free time you have now with your current job to work on your business.
- Test demand. Understand what customers want while building a real customer base.
- Build based on data. Develop the smallest business possible that generates cash and profit, all while bettering your offering based on the data you collect.
This may sound like a tall order for a smartphone, but there’s an app for each of the four steps to starting a business.
Step 1. Define success
Only you can decide when your business will be successful. What do you want to achieve? Once you understand that, convert that into a monthly income target needed to achieve success.
Recommended smartphone apps for small businesses
Step 2. Create the test business
This is essentially your business plan. Ask yourself these questions and document the answers before launching your business:
- Who are your customers (it’s not everyone!)? What type of person would need your product/service?
- How are you going to connect with them?
- What are you going to sell them?
- What problem does it solve?
- How much profit (sales minus the costs you incurred making those sales i.e. Raw materials stock etc.) do you generate from each sale?
- How will you sell the product to them?
- How will they pay you?
- What costs will you incur?
- What key activities do you need to complete?
- What partnerships and resources do you need to be successful?
When answering these questions, focus on what needs to be done in order for your business to be successful. Depending on your business idea, you might be able to test the whole business or you might have to break it down into smaller tests.
Recommended smartphone apps
Step 3. Get out and test
Don’t go and prove yourself right that failure is in your future; go and hunt for flaws and prove where you are wrong. There are always flaws, which is why business plans fail on the first contact with a customer. Find them, fix them, and move on.
While your first sale may feel like a victory, the true test is understanding why they bought from you.
Ask the five whys
Why 1 ask why they bought from you?
Why 2 ask why was that important?
Why 3 ask what’s the reasoning behind the answer to question 2?
Why 4 Make sure you understand the reason for the answer?
Why 5 Dig deeper for more clarity.
It may seem intimidating, but clarity on what makes your customers buy from you is the most valuable asset you have right now. Even more useful is when you can do this with people who nearly bought from you and find out if you need to change something like, pricing or product specifics.
Recommended smartphone apps
Facebook is a really good place to start, especially if you already have a sizeable following. Start a page for your business. Keep it simple and focus on getting as much feedback as you can. Facebook’s analytics reporting can help you better understand the attitudes and insights of your customers.
Sage Expenses & Invoices is a super-simple and free way to record income and expenses. Remember, income is the sales you make minus what you spend. You can then add functionality as you grow.
Step 4. Scale it
Once you’ve proven what works, scale it up to achieve your targets.
You can now take all the real evidence you have about your growing customer base and the revenue you have generated to create a proposal for a bank or a potential investor.
Start now. What’s stopping you?
All you need is an idea and a smartphone. The power in your pocket gives you everything you need to set up your business and your office right here, right now.
The only barriers are the ones you create for yourself. We are here to help you remove them from every step of your journey to business success.
Learn more about creating a virtual business in our latest guide, Building a Virtual Business.
No plans for the weekend? Sage Product Manager Jonathan Dowden has a step-by-step plan for getting your business off the ground using just your mobile device. In his interview with Sage Director of Product Development and Strategy Ed Kless, Jonathan explains his method and how his childhood passion has fueled his career.
You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes at: http://na.sage.com/itunes