We’ve all heard of businesses that have had to close down before reaching even the one year mark. We consider these and psych ourselves out, believing we will fail before we even start. I’m here to tell you not to give up on your dream. Start that business. But read some important things I think you need to know before you do.
Going into a solo business venture isn’t easy because you initially have to do everything yourself. You will find yourself having to attend to customers, deal with the paperwork, manage sales and set up appointments on your own. It can get very overwhelming but of course, we have you covered here. It’s tough but it’s not impossible. Here are a few do’s and don’ts to consider.
Make a plan:
Before a house or a structure is built, a plan needs to be drawn so that the builder or contractor will know how to go about building the structure and what to use. The same goes for starting a business. Failing to plan is planning to fail. If you do not have a plan to guide you through the start-up stage of your business, you’re more likely to get stuck along the way.
Attend to financial and legal matters before start-up:
The fact that you’re operating a one-man business means you have to cover all your bases because you initially bear the sole repercussions for the activities of your business. Do the legwork and find out the legal and financial parameters you need to work in within your context.
Pay attention to your competition:
No business exists in a vacuum. When you start your solo business you’ll be stepping into a pre-existing domain. That means you will have competition. Study them, find out their strengths and weaknesses and use this research to your advantage. Find out what makes people want their products or services and figure out how to incorporate their successes into your business. Find out what discourages buyers or customers from using their services and avoid making the same mistakes.
You need to market yourself and your business both online and offline. Joining business-related groups and attending business functions gives you the opportunity to meet potential customers and investors first hand. Be sure to hand out business cards too, or anything that shows how and where you can be contacted.
Any kind of moral, financial or psychological support is very important when it comes to starting a solo business. Having a mentor will go a long way in making sure you have the guidance, listening ear and constructive criticism you need to stay in the game. Finding a mentor to help start your business is not as hard as it used to be, these days mentors can be found in various online groups and websites such as micromentor.org
Skip market research:
I cannot even begin to list the number of things that are likely to go wrong if you do not diligently research the market before entering a business. Market research is probably the most important step when it comes to starting a solo business. The fact that you have great ideas doesn’t mean customers are immediately going to start knocking on your door when you start. You need to know your demographic, your competitors, be aware of what your customers need and what attracts and keeps their attention.
Don’t assume that your name or logo automatically explains your business. I remember a few years back there was this skin product called “autoclear”. The manufacturer meant to communicate that it would automatically made your skin clearer, but since people normally associate the word “auto” with vehicles, everyone was confused as to its main purpose and ultimately the company had to close down because of low demand.
Misuse social media:
The fact that you can market on social media doesn’t mean you have to market all the time. When you create social media accounts or pages, take the time to genuinely interact with your followers before you start selling to them. Nobody likes inappropriately timed product plugs.
Yes, one of the best ways to market your product is to have a strong personal brand but that doesn’t mean you should pretend to be someone you’re not just to gain customers or followers. Once your clients find out that there is a discrepancy between who you really are and who you project yourself to be, you will lose their trust. Word will get around and that feedback could hurt your business.
Going solo is a huge responsibility but if you have dreams of working for yourself, a solo business is the way to go. Do the work, avoid the unnecessary pitfalls and enjoy your journey.
If you enjoyed reading this and found it helpful, make it a point to share so more people can be informed, and don’t hesitate to drop any questions or comments in the comment box below.