Having a great idea is the spark you need to launch a successful business, but that spark cannot ignite without the right platform, tools, and materials. At best, it will fizzle out as you are met with the “what next” phase of having a great idea, but at worst, it will blow up on you before it can ever really get off the ground.
There are so many ways that you can prepare yourself to give your business a shot at truly succeeding. There is a fine line, naturally, as it is equally as possible to be overprepared. Being overprepared doesn’t hurt your actual business management, but it does mean you have waited too long to take advantage of the market opportunity you initially saw.
Too fast, you don’t have the right foundation to sustainably grow your business. Too slow, and a competitor might have launched and built an empire while you were too hesitant.
Though this guide cannot help you know when the right time to launch is, it can help direct you where you should look to build those essential business skills that will help you build, launch, and manage your own business more successfully:
Consider a Business Degree
Business degrees are ideal for those who have specialized thus far in any other field. If you were an engineer and are looking to start your own business, a business degree is a perfect place to look. If you are an artist and your goal is to start a collaborative or even a new foundation, a business degree is ideal.
There are many excellent business degrees out there, each allowing you to specialize your skillset based on your own personal career goals. You could, for example, earn an management MSc in Digital Marketing if your goal is to launch a digital marketing company.
You can earn a business and management degree, a management and finance degree, a global business management degree, a business and entrepreneurship degree, a management and innovation degree, a management in a digital economy degree, and so much more. There are general business degrees that allow you to keep your options open and specific business master’s degrees that allow you to branch your specialization to the business world.
Build the Right Connections
Businesses do not exist in a vacuum, which is why the first thing you need to do before you even make a business plan is to start building your connections and your network. If you know the right person to solve a problem, then you will automatically improve your business’ survival rate.
Not only that but having these connections in advance can actually help you secure financing easier in the future.
Every new business will need to outsource at one point or another; it’s just the way of life. You cannot afford to have every single department under your roof when you first start out, and therefore it is far better and cheaper to outsource.
Even the biggest businesses outsource certain jobs. It’s not just common business practice; it’s smart business practice. Know what types of work your type of business usually needs, and create a list as well as their pricing so you can make a better budget for your new company in advance.
One of the most important things you can do before you launch is create a list of suppliers. This applies even if you don’t sell products. Your business will need tools, office equipment, and of course computers – know where you can get these as cheap as possible, for good quality.
However, if you do sell products, choosing your suppliers in advance will make a massive difference to your launch. You’ll know how to truly set up your company because your supply chain is going to be one of the most complex cogs in your machine.
Investors much prefer to place their money in the hands of businesses that already have these connections, particularly if you already have a deal with them. You can do this by partnering with them while you work to create the prototypes, for example, and negotiating a great deal to promise a future deal.
Mentors are great to have as a new business owner, and your degree will give you many great options. Use those connections and stay in touch with your university so that you can continue to benefit and eventually help future generations of graduates as well.
Create a Great Business Plan
Once you know your suppliers and have a degree designed to help you with your goals, you’ll be ready to put together a smart, straightforward business plan. Rework this business plan to be visually appealing, and use it to sell your idea to investors, banks, friends and family, and even the public at large.
You will want to use your great business plan to explore multiple financing options. Always use multiple options to reduce the amount you owe any one institution and increase the amount of start-up capital you have available.
Start first with your own savings. Though you shouldn’t make yourself destitute, this is money that you won’t have to pay back, making it a great place to start when it comes to sourcing funding for your start-up.
Friends and Family
When borrowing money from friends and family, it is important to always write up an agreement and a repayment schedule. This way, they can rest easy, and you can protect your relationship. Friends and family typically are happy to allow you to borrow with either a very low interest rate or no interest rate at all, so don’t disappoint them by being unable to pay them back.
Small Business Loan
SBA loans are great, but are hard to get. That is why a great business plan with a very concrete plan for launch and success is so important. If you go to them with just the idea for your business but no actual planning, you will often be denied.
Investors are a great place to look for funding, especially when you need a lot of start-up capital for research and development. However, it can be hard to get in touch with these investors, and their investing agreements may be unfavorable.
Finally, consider crowdfunding. Crowdfunding puts your business product or service to the people and encourages them to donate or invest in your business, usually for a perk, like a discounted product once your product is finalized.