Every time I think about starting a business from scratch, I think back to a book I read years ago: «Fear…but do it!
It seems to me that most of us are afraid of the unknown, not the thought of whether we are competent or smart enough or not to start a business. As with any other activity, managing, being the boss and doing business is just a skill that comes with time and experience. So I think a good start depends more on confidence and inspiration than on a list of things to do. For this reason, you will first learn what you can do to tune in. We will discuss what you have to do day after day to start your own business from scratch. Read more than just this list, try to learn something every day about running and managing a business. If you don’t know exactly where to start in order to start a business from scratch, check out our business blogs, which are useful to keep track of, but you probably haven’t done so, as well as a list of highly recommended business books.
Why you can and should start doing business
Although the statistics in this article are mainly about the American market, the reasons for starting a business are not really the same, whether you are in Canada or South Africa. That is, the same thing will happen for Ukraine soon, because the lag is possible in 3-5 years.
You can start your business from scratch, because others are doing it. Do you think that the country’s business is run only by big oligarchic businessmen or geniuses with red diplomas? Well, that’s not true. In the United States, 99% of companies are small businesses and still employ 80% of the population! There is no need for «special» education to organize your business. You just need to have an idea, a desire to learn and adapt, and the ability to act!
You can start your own small business, because there is a business that is ideal for your interests, experience, hobbies or for the field of activity. The problem of «starting your own business» essentially comes down to having a business idea, paperwork and money. Given the amount of financial resources in today’s world, it should be easy to find the initial capital, especially if you want to create an effective business model or go the market route of a product with minimal functionality (MVP).
You can start from scratch even from home. According to SBA (Small Business Administration) statistics, 52% of all small businesses are home-based, and with 28 million small businesses in the U.S., 22 million are run by people who claim to work for themselves (without employees and extra payrolls). In Ukraine, this figure has also increased over the last 5 years since 2010.
And the most important thing is that you will be able to start the business you want, when you want and how you want it. This will give meaning to your work, make it meaningful and give you the opportunity to pay more attention to the things that are important for you. Lemarbet company, for example, mainly helps small companies to turn their dreams into reality and create a business from scratch and promote it on the Internet to increase profits.
Week 1: Just start from scratch
The first week is the first step to turn a business idea into reality. During this period, you need to focus on market research, strategy and the legal side of the issue.
Starting a business from scratch is probably the hardest part. Everything else will just start lining up after that. Don’t spare time and don’t worry if you need another extra day.
Day 1: Find yourself and your business. Understand what and to whom you sell
We should start by answering a series of questions. What do I do best? What do I want to do? What do I do well?
At this stage, you may be interested in working on ideas. Finish it at the end of this week, when you are immersed in market research.
You should also decide what success is for you. Do I want to become a millionaire in a year? Or am I going to organize a non-profit charity canteen for the unemployed?
Once you have prioritized and identified your skills, you need to think about the type of business you want to start from scratch. Many of those who read this guide are already sure to have some idea — maybe establish a tutoring agency or a restaurant, or open an online store.
But if you don’t have an idea yet, but you’re sure you want to start your own business, read our tutorial, because the idea may appear in the process. Or turn your favorite hobby into a full-time job. You can even continue to do business in which you have a lot of experience. If you’ve been working in retail for 10 years, or if you’re looking for some kind of product, why not open a store?
And now, depending on the type of your business, it’s time to think about what and to whom to sell.
Remember: you can still change at this stage. The first day should go by to determine your passions. Market and industry research awaits you at the end of the week. When you do this, you will be able to look at your desires more objectively.
Day 2: Start working on your strategy
Now you know what you’re good at and what kind of case you’re best suited to open. It’s time to think about strategy.
Let’s see at once: this is NOT a general strategy for small or large businesses from scratch, which will dictate what to do over the next five years, it’s just a scheme of important things: your goal, values, what you’re going to do and what you’re not going to do.
Your strategy must be in line with your personal values, so that you don’t lose interest in the business over time. Do I want to create an e-marketing agency? Then I need to set a clear framework for working with clients right away. For example, do you want to link your name to an oil company or offer services that you will not be outstanding in, but that will attract many clients?
Understand what you want to discover and what you don’t want to discover. Who do you want to work for? Who isn’t? How will you grow? What won’t you do for any money?
Your strategy should really depend on your idea, so that you do not rush from side to side, if it becomes tight with money, or do not do something that is contrary to moral principles, do not sell non-vegetarian food, for example, if you are a vegetarian.
Determine everything from the beginning. This will make it much easier for you to plan, but it will be harder to put aside for later. As they say, you won’t be nice to everyone!
Day 3: Identify the location of the company
The location of the company should be suitable for your business and business strategy.
We advise you to ask yourself these questions:
Will your clients ever see your office?
How will they get there?
Will they have to park their car before they visit?
Can you work from home, or will it have a negative impact on your personal life?
Which location is right for your strategy?
Are you going to hire employees?
How will the company’s office influence your employee selection strategy?
Are you too fond of the idea of creating a job?
When you think about the type of space and the space you need to start, be realistic. If you’re not going to hire employees and invite clients to the office, why not have it home?
If you’re worried that you won’t be able to concentrate at home, then maybe you should think about a shared workspace. Tim: «Don’t choose an office to make your ego go away, but only if it’s for your business purposes.
If you do decide you want to open an office, think about the number of employees you need and the equipment: armchairs, photocopiers, refrigerator, coffee maker, reception desk, conference room, etc. Besides, how fast do you plan to grow? If you’re planning a quick replenishment in the state, look for a place to grow, so you don’t have to change your business address.
When it’s your turn to sign a lease, don’t be afraid to discuss the details, but remember that you will usually be asked to sign for at least a year.
If you have not yet decided on the location of your company, read the additional information.
How do other companies in your industry do business? Will it work for you or will it not work for you if you open a particular business in a particular location? Do you think there is a demand for this kind of small or large business in your city now? Or do you live somewhere where people can’t afford to buy what you sell?
Day 4: Determine how much money you need to start a business
The issue of start-up capital is a partial reason for a day spent entirely on research and search for premises. If you work from home and do not meet with clients, the initial costs may include setting up an online store, internet marketing, office supplies, any materials for work or legal expenses. If you don’t, you will have to spend enough to cover the first few months’ rent and utilities, as well as the living conditions in the new office.
In any case, it would be good to divide your expenses into two separate types.
Costs: These include categories such as wages, rent, counseling, transportation, meals, and various legal expenses if necessary.
Assets: This includes such categories as furniture, signage, cars, trucks, buildings, land, property, etc.
Assets and expenses do not need to be disturbed. When you create a spreadsheet with the costs of starting a business, write them separately.
The main task is to quickly open an online store from scratch and start to involve the first potential customers, so it is necessary to spend money carefully. It happens that the entrepreneur will create an online store with possible and impossible functionality, and then there is no budget for promotion. Look for a middle ground.
Day 5: Start «planning your business» instead of creating a clear «business plan
While this sounds strange, the truth is that you will be creating an «official plan» later, in the second week, when you will have to decide on a budget that you are willing to invest in your business. And even then, you will start with a one-page scheme.
You need to plan in order to decide on the course of action. If you haven’t started yet, the plan itself won’t do any good, but planning from scratch is essential before you start.
A few points to think about at this stage:
Features of your small, medium or large business.
Your market and people’s needs in it.
Steps to take, and when to do so.
Day 6: It’s time to explore the market
If you don’t think you can handle this step in a day, there’s no problem spending a couple more. After all, you want to know your industry and market well.
There are plenty of amazing ways you can do research in your field of activity: sending out surveys yourself, talking to people on the phone, sending out emails, and basically consulting with those who are or have already been there.
Market research is important because it will help you understand if there is a demand for the service or product you offer. This will be useful in the future when writing a business plan, you will also see that there is a niche for the business in the market, otherwise the business will not develop quickly enough to return their investment.
There are many ways to collect this information:
Do a web-based survey — look for statistics on your industry, see who is working in your area, selling something like you, what they do and how they do it. Are they doing well? Can you start your journey with a beaten path and succeed or achieve more by doing something else?
Go shopping — surf the web and shop, so do your «research». Look at what products people spend their money on and what kind of ratings they give to products and services.
Talk to people, including customers.
Collect information — read local government websites or relevant publications about your industry.
Organize your own research — conduct telephone and e-mail surveys, focus groups and ask people to answer your questions.
To get started, just review the seasonality and market niche through Google AdWords and Google Trends, above are the links to the articles. It is also worth noting that the niche can be small or large — more than 1 million displays of potential topics. It is also necessary to analyze competitors, because they invest in the development of their online store.
Day 7: Decide on the legal side of the issue
At this stage, you need to select and register your company’s name, as well as the structure of the company. Many small business start-ups choose individual private enterprises. It is better to consult a lawyer to make sure that you have done all the basic things and taken the right steps.
Week 2: Find a source of funding
Spend the next week working on the scheme, the business plan and exploring funding options. Remember that your business plan can still be changed. It should remain a living document, as you are constantly growing and developing. Don’t be stressed out, just use this week to focus on your thoughts, to put everything you thought about and learned in the first week together.
You don’t have to rely on banks and government agencies to raise funds. You can also use your earnings and invest in your own business.
Day 8: Draw a diagram on one page
Treat the chart on one page (a summary of your online store concept) as a precursor to your business plan. It should present your business strategy in a format that is easy to understand.
In addition, it is a hundred times easier to write and easy to change. And this is in addition to many other benefits, such as investors working with such a general plan will be much easier (sad truth: most of them are not going to spend their time reading your full business plan. Maybe only his explanatory note, but not the whole plan.)
Anyway, creating a one-page scheme is a good way to structure a business and define its essence. What exactly do you do, who is your target audience, key partners and employees, and how much money do you need to start a business from scratch?
A one-page scheme is not a substitute for a formal business plan (many investors and lenders will still want to see it), it’s just a good way to deal with your ideas and experiment with them.
It may not even take you a full day to create it, but it will be a great sketch or the basis of your business plan, so that you can build on everything you need to do, do research and work on problems.
Days 9 and 10: Work on your business plan
In the first week, we said, «Start planning your business, not creating a clear business plan. That’s because many people think that writing a long formal business plan is a must before starting a business from scratch (and you’ll probably never even use it).
This is not the best of all options. The business plan should always be «alive». The plan with which you opened a business from scratch may be quite different in a year’s time, because the business is also changing, and the economy is changing, and the requirements.
However, if you want to apply to the bank for a loan, you will need a business plan! Especially these institutions will be interested in your financial statements, it is obvious, because they will want to see evidence that they lend money back to someone who can repay it.
In addition, when you create a business plan, you will be able to structure your discoveries, estimates and goals. You will likely change it later, but the plan will first create an overall picture of your plan and collect the details of the puzzle.
Try to spend more than two days writing a plan. Perhaps it is better to divide it into two sections: financial and everything that goes before it.
It shouldn’t be too difficult; you’ve spent the first week planning many of his items. It is better to start writing the explanatory note last.
Your business plan can be written in a simple Word document format.
Day 11: Allow a day to explore funding options
Funding options will vary depending on your case. Among the most popular options are the following:
Bank credit — the bank will want to see your business plan for sure.
Loans from the Small Business Association — you will also need a business plan to get this kind of loan.
Personal investment — you invest in your own business.
Friends and family — if you don’t have much chance of getting a loan, your friends and family are probably the next best instance. But you should take into account that this may affect your relationship with them.
Day 12-13: Finding a supplier for your products
You can start searching the Internet for «Your goods in bulk», collect a database of contacts.
Buy a local newspaper, where you can advertise for these companies.
Visit the wholesale market, you can also find suppliers of your goods.
See when there may be an exhibition in your city or the nearest regional center, there may be a lot of different suppliers to talk to.
Also in this article «How to find a manufacturer or supplier of a product for your idea» more information is available.
Day 14: Finding a Contractor to Create an Online Store and Promote It
To save time, you should start looking for a contractor to create your own online store. Of course, you can read the article on how to open an online store yourself. But here there are 50+ risks that it will be difficult and you will have to spend a lot of time and go on a painful rake.
Create a small statement of work regarding what you plan to sell and submit applications to various Internet agencies and web studios. The easiest way to find them is to search for them in Google by different requests.
Get acquainted with the price and portfolio, cases to promote the online store.
Create a file where you can compare all the web studios by price, portfolio, communication with the manager.
Ask questions to find out more about what’s going on in the market.
Week 3: Don’t stop
Day 15: Solve the problem of getting paid
Did you know that very often people go out of business not because of its unprofitability? One of the main reasons is that they do not have the cash to pay their bills, pay their salaries and continue their activities.
You can get payments from customers to your card, account, cash or cash on delivery.
Day 16: Indicative calculation of potential profits
Calculation of the potential conversion, which will be beneficial to me when the goods are sold, for example:
The price of goods — 800 UAH.
The markup is 20%.
Earnings from one sale is 800 * 20% = 160 UAH.
To get to zero, the price of attracting a client should not exceed 160 UAH. And if it exceeds, it means that the task is to return it with the help of cheaper price, so that he bought something else.
It is necessary to sell with a bigger markup and more expensive goods. From the total amount of a month for traffic 300 people per day can be:
300 * 30 days * 1% * 800 UAH = 72000 UAH — turnover, and the profit — 72000 * 20% = 14400 UAH — how to start it is very good.
Day 17: Decide whether you need to hire employees or not
If yes, post announcements and try to start the interview/reception process at this stage.
It would be good to resolve this issue as early as possible. Not only will this determine the type of insurance you will have to buy (if you do decide to hire employees, you will need a compensation payment), but the availability of staff can significantly increase the cost of starting a business or help you to achieve your goals faster.
Will you really be able to do everything on your own first? If you need to hire someone with certain skills or education, state what the person in that position should do and what the requirements are.
It should also help you when it’s time to create a job description and publish an announcement that should be addressed to your target employee.
How to find employees:
Friends and family — use your close connections, maybe you can get someone to recommend you.
Look in your local schools.
Contact an employment agency (if you have a short period of time, they can be a great help with the initial selection process), but this is a paid service.
Use publications and websites related to your industry, especially if you are looking for someone with training and a very specific skill set.
Publish a vacancy on the Internet.
When inviting people to interviews, remember that there are questions you can and cannot ask.
Pay attention to the recommendations, especially if the person you hired will be driving a company vehicle or working with large sums of money.
Day 18: Think about how to build a brand out of your business
Before you can advertise your business or open an online store site from scratch, you need to think about how to make your company a brand.
So you need to understand the «essence» of your business. This will not only help you to stand out among the competitors, but also make your message clear, create value and become a key element of marketing. Your brand will help you understand the cost of services, how to hire employees, which target audience to work for and how to PR the company.
The best way to understand how to build a brand out of business is to learn from others. See what they do. Do a lot of research, especially in your industry.
Days 19 and 20: Start representing your company online
Even if your business is not digital, it is important to present it online. Everybody does that now. Even if you don’t do online business, people should be able to find you easily.
The worst mistake is to think that if you haven’t officially created your own website, your information isn’t being shared online. People will still leave feedback, discuss you on social networks and write about you. If you don’t stay up to date with all this, you just don’t control the situation.
This step takes two days, because the online presence takes a lot of time.
A few things you can do at the beginning:
Open a simple website (you can do it yourself — then you have to figure out how to get your own hosting/online space — or ask someone to help you).
Add yourself to the list of Google Places businesses, so that you literally appear on the map.
Start running pages on Facebook and VKontakte social networks.
Also spend some time and figure out how you’re going to maintain your online presence. Your site will become a marketing tool, whether you use it to deliver information or build your brand.
Day 21: Advertise
In fact, we will have to work on advertising and promotion of our online store all the time. But since you have just started and probably only have a few customers, it is extremely important when you are going to open a small (or other) business from scratch.
There are many ways to organize advertising:
Contact a PR agency.
Place an ad in a newspaper or radio advertisement.
Order and distribute leaflets.
Talk to journalists.
If it is important for you to promote yourself online, think about the Google AdWords advertising service.
Arrange a grand opening.
Sponsor the event.
Hold a contest.
The secret is to do something. Don’t wait for others to find out about you. Go outside and tell people about your business and how it can help them get what they want or solve a problem.
Week 4: Now you’re in business — it’s time to start selling!
You’ve prepared yourself thoroughly. You don’t have any excuses right now! It’s time to put aside fear and start talking to people, sell, advertise and keep going.
Let’s tell the truth. You really do business only when you sell. It is worth starting as soon as possible, even if you still have something to do in the process.
Day 22: Open your unique selling proposition (UTP)
Your ‘unique selling proposition’ defines what makes you unique. You will need it if you are going to immediately «sell your product» to potential customers.
In order to understand what your STP is, it will take a little creativity and introspection.
After detailed planning and completion of the initial stages, analyze your competitors and other companies. How do they sell themselves? What image are they creating for themselves? What do they claim makes them unique? If you doubt it, look at the message of their advertising and internet marketing. That’s where you will most often see UTPs and variations on this topic.
Do not analyze what they sell, analyze what goods they sell, they say.
When you are trying to create your UTP, try to put yourself in the shoes of consumers. What do they want? What do they value? What are the advantages of your product or why do you want to give preference to you over your competitor?
Tim Berry was very clear: «For effective marketing, you need to be an amateur psychologist. You need to know what motivates and motivates consumers.
If you have already started your own small (or other) business, you can also identify your UTPs by understanding the real reasons why consumers bought your product and not your competitor’s product. How best to do this? Ask them! If you can’t ask your customers because you don’t have them yet, why not ask your competitor’s customers?
Days 23 and 24: it’s time to start calling people, promoting your business, selling away, making contacts
Before trying to establish connections, it is essential to create a clear list. This will help you focus on the right directions and the right people. Do your own research. If you sell luxury goods, you don’t need to call customers or target those who live in low-income areas. And if you’re selling to children, shouldn’t you focus on the areas where students live mostly?
And even if at this stage your business does not become lightning successful, you are promoting it from scratch and create a reputation. When people later need to use your service or buy a product, they can remember your call well.
If you’re selling away from the office, it would be good to learn more about the customer first and then call him and ask him about the visit. This way you can save both time and money.
Day 25: Don’t give up on your goals, keep in touch, etc.
There are times when someone is interested in your offer, and there are times when they have a very specific reason for refusing it, but there are many ways to get them to think about their original decision.
They can be considered as such:
Positive feedback from a mutual friend.
Lunch/meeting in a neutral setting with your supplier.
Invitation to visit you at work.
An article about your company is something that will make you look good or seem weighty.
Remember, the most important thing in achieving your goal in this way is to think about what new information can make a person change their mind. What could interest them, what did you forget to mention on the first call?
Days 26 and 27: Understand how you are going to maintain relationships with customers, and then build them, retain them, and collaborate with customers/target audiences
Now that you have managed to create your own audience or have acquired several clients, you will need to maintain a relationship at all times. Nowadays, many businesses do this through social media accounts, which very often replace customer support.
However, you must provide people with a way to get in touch with you or anyone in your company when they need to resolve an issue. And this should be clear so that customers do not have to write on a shared social networking page and that it does not spoil your relationship.
What else can you do to maintain a relationship with your customers?
When clients have birthdays, congratulate them and wish them all the best.
Offer discounts for loyalty (for example, if you’ve been working together for a year?).
Send seasonal congratulations.
Congratulate clients on their personal business achievements (you can even tell about it on your site / social page, if the client allows, of course).
Regardless of how you are going to maintain the relationship, remember that, like advertising, it should be done constantly. It’s a continuous job, but it will also allow you to understand your customers and use feedback to adapt to their needs.
Also run an e-mail newsletter on your customer base, where you will communicate with them and inform them about new promotional events in your online store.
Day 28: Choose your accounting software/online accounting application
The main advantage of using good accounting software is that your costs and expenses will become clear and you will eventually be able to make more informed financial decisions.
In addition, if you are accountable to creditors and investors, these statements will prove your reliability and help you avoid financial losses.
Take some time to become familiar with the accounting and reporting principles. Do you know what kind of statements are important for filing a tax return? Do you understand how to manage your expenses and expenses?
If not, talk to your accountant and consult your acquaintances. They should help you get up to speed. You won’t even know how to become a master of everything!
Day 29-30: Rest
If you’ve been following this 30-day guide, give yourself a day off. But don’t be surprised if you can’t. Organizing your business from scratch will not only help you decide what kind of business you want, but will also give you permanent responsibility for ensuring that everything goes according to plan.
Conclusion (and reservation):
The structure and regularity of each step is mainly taken from the guidance in Tim Berry’s book «3 weeks before the startup». However, the order of a few steps has been changed, and a couple of steps have been added so that you have more time to organize and that it is more realistic for the modern market and the opening of an online store in Ukraine. Also, in this guide you have another extra week.
Most people are happy to divide the lists of cases and solve complex tasks into 30 steps. Therefore, here you see something «familiar» and feasible.
To open and earn on own Internet shop is completely real, and it is really profitable. But you need to have patience and plan well. It is also necessary to remember about the delegation, what you can do yourself, and what to give to the contractor.