The prospect of starting your own business is both exhilarating and terrifying. You are bringing something new into the world, and whether it succeeds or fails depends primarily on you and the groundwork you have already laid. If you are at that moment of stepping off into the world of small business ownership, be sure you have considered these five points to avoid having your business become another statistic.
Have a Plan
You’ve probably practiced project management in the past, and you’ll need to apply the same principles to setting up your business. In your case, the growth of your business will be your project, and the more comprehensive your plan, the better you will be at surviving the pitfalls that come your way. Your plan should be realistic, and it should realistically outline the goals you want to achieve and the timeline you want to achieve them in. Having a plan will help you in many ways; it acts as a goal schedule, a reference for budgeting, a way to track work and a means of predicting upcoming needs.
You won’t throw this plan out once you’re up and running. Keep the plan, and alter it as you go to achieve your ongoing goals. The plan will continue to function and grow throughout the life of the business. If you skip this step or fail to apply it to the degree necessary for your particular business, you’re not going to last long.
Know your market
You need to make sure that your business will be profitable. Even if it’s a side gig, if there’s not a market, your business can end up costing you money. You can’t be lazy on this point. You need to know what your potential customers want or need, and what price that market will bear. Be realistic when determining the cost of services, especially in a market where you are up against competition. You must weigh the average price for what you’re offering, the quality of your particular service in comparison to your competitors, and determine a realistic expectation of demand for your product.
This takes in-depth research, more than an internet search. You need to make connections with others in the business, talk to potential customers, and possibly even pay to have a survey or two done to determine what people are actually looking for from a service such as yours. There are several online survey groups that will do this for you for a fee and can restrict your results to a specific geographic area.
Don’t Underestimate the Cost of Doing Business
Once you have a solid business idea and you know there’s a market for it, remember that this is not the lottery. You don’t strike it rich because you have the winning ticket, you strike it rich because you planned for the costs to get your idea off the ground, and you carefully guided your idea through a series of financial scenarios. You may need to limit the number of jobs you take at a time to avoid overspending on materials. If you’ll need a larger workspace, work smaller jobs until you can safely afford to rent or buy a building.
The most important thing is to carefully consider each expense and weigh it against the potential earning you expect, and make sure those considerations include the possibility of a light work load. Remember that you are growing a business, and don’t let a large amount of capital (if you’re lucky enough to have it) lead you astray from carefully curating the growth of your business.
Make Safety a Priority
Many contracting jobs come with a risk to your safety and your employees’ safety. However, you can work to minimize those risks with some strategic planning. Make sure that everyone on your team has the proper training and a high enough skill level to complete their tasks safely. Having an untrained employee is a liability and makes them a danger to themselves and those around them. Also, make sure everyone has the right equipment for the job. Cutting costs by providing only cheap tools and materials can end up costing you more in the long run. While you can cut down on a lot of the dangers, you’ll never be able to eliminate every danger and you and your employees may still get hurt. Make sure you are insured for when that happens to protect your growing business.
You may consider joining a union. They will have more resources than you will, and may be able to help with by providing training as well as other benefits like insurance assistance. In addition to providing you with support, a union can also provide you a network of business contacts. Welding contractor union recruitment can help you whether you’re a welder, a plumber or a more generalized technician by offering you skills or manpower you wouldn’t otherwise have.
Help Your Customers Find You
You are offering quality work at competitive prices, now it’s time to get the word out, and while it may seem right to simply spread material with your brand on it around town, you should take care to carefully curate where your business name appears. You are more likely to reach more customers in a positive way with professional looking advertising such as business cards, a thoughtful logo, a vision statement about service, good photos of your work and an online presence.
Online marketing should be something you plan to spend some money on. You may think you can just use Craigslist of Facebook Marketplace, but those are just the digital equivalent of the bulletin board. While they can garner some business you need to focus on building your own website using one of the many services available online. Be willing to spend a little extra to get your own domain name, and plan it into your monthly expenses. Depending on the service you choose, you’ll be able to build a professional, unique website while the provider takes care of security for your site. If you want to succeed in this challenge we call business, having an online presence is absolutely essential.
Ultimately it’s all up to you, and that should be exciting. Remember that while you may be passionate about your service or product, you should also develop a passion for business itself. You are creating a living thing that can grow and provide others with employment while providing a service to your community and beyond. Business is a worthwhile endeavor, and you are taking the first steps into the fray. Take these tips and use them to build the foundation of what will hopefully be a lifelong adventure.
Anita is a freelance writer from Denver, CO. She studied at Colorado State University, and now writes articles about about health, business, family and finance. A mother of two, she enjoys traveling with her family whenever she isn’t writing.