Every time I think about starting a business from scratch, I think back to the book I read years ago: “Fear…but do it!”
It seems to me that most of us are holding back the fear of the unknown, not the thought of whether we are competent or smart enough or something else to start a business. As with any other business, the ability to manage, be the boss and run a business is just skills that come with time and experience. So I think a good start is more about confidence and inspiration than a list of things to do. For that reason, you will first learn what you can do to tune in to building your business. We will discuss what you have to do day after day to start your business from scratch. Don’t just read this list, try to learn something every day about running and managing your business. If you don’t know exactly where to start, to start from scratch, look at our business blogs, which are useful to keep an eye on, but you probably haven’t done it, as well as a list of highly recommended business books.
Why you can and should start a business
Although the statistics in this article are mostly about the American market, the reasons to start a business are not really that different, whether you are in Canada or South Africa. That is, the same thing will soon happen for Ukraine, because the lag is possible in 3-5 years.
You can start your business from scratch, because others do. Do you think that only big oligarchs or geniuses with red diplomas run the country’s business? Well, that’s not how it works. In the U.S., 99% of companies are small businesses and at the same time 80% of the population are employed! There is no need for “special” education to organize your business. You just need 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 area of activity. The problem of “starting a business” essentially comes down to having a business idea, solving paper and money issues. Given the amount of financial resources in today’s world, it should be easy to find start-up capital, especially if you want to create an effective business model or go the market way with minimal functionality (MVP).
You can start a business from scratch even when you are at 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 workers or extra pay). In Ukraine this figure has also been increasing during the last 5 years since 2010.
And the most important thing is that you can start a business whatever 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 to you. Lemarbet, for example, mainly helps small firms turn their dreams into reality and start a business from scratch and promote it online to increase profits.
Week 1: Just start from scratch
The first week is the first step to turn the business idea into reality. During this period, the focus should be on market research, strategy and legal aspects.
Starting a business from scratch is probably the hardest part. Everything else just starts to line up after that. Don’t waste time on it and don’t worry if you need another extra day.
Day 1: Find yourself and your business. Understand what you’re selling to and to whom…
We should start by answering a number of questions. What do I do best? What do I want to do? What am I good at?
At this stage, you might be interested in working on ideas. Finish it at the end of this week, when you’re immersed in market research.
You should also decide what success is for you. Do I want to be a millionaire in a year? Or am I going to organize a non-profit charity canteen for the unemployed?
Once you have prioritized and defined your skills, you need to think about the type of case you would like to open from scratch. Many of those who read this guide are probably already having some idea – maybe setting up a tutoring agency, or a restaurant, or opening an online shop.
But if you do not have an idea yet, but you are sure that you want to start your own business, read our guide, the idea can 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 in retail for 10 years or if you’re navigating some kind of product, why not open a store?
And now, depending on your type of business, it’s time to think about what to sell and to whom.
Remember: at this stage, you can still change. The first day should go to determining your preferences. Market and industry research awaits you later, at the end of the week. When you do that, you can take a more objective look at your desires.
Day 2: Start working on your strategy
Now you already know what you’re good at and what type of business you’re best at. 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, this is just a diagram of the important things: your purpose, values, what you are going to do and 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 define a clear framework for my clients right away. For example, do you want to link your name to an oil company or do you want to offer services where you won’t be outstanding, but they will attract many clients?
Understand what you want to open and what you don’t. Who do you want to work for? For whom not? How will you grow? What won’t you do for any money?
Your strategy should really depend on your idea, so that you don’t rush from side to side if it gets tough with money, or do something that is against moral principles, or sell non-vegetarian food, for example, if you are a vegetarian.
Define everything from the beginning. It’ll make it much easier for you to plan, and it’s harder to put it off. As they say, you’re not gonna be nice to anyone!
Day 3: decide on the location of the company
The location of the company should suit your business and business strategy.
We advise you to ask yourself such questions:
Will your clients ever see your office?
How will they ever get there?
Will they have to park their car before visiting?
Can you work from home, or will it have a negative impact on your personal life?
What exactly is the right location for your strategy?
Are you going to hire employees?
How will the company office affect your employee selection strategy?
Are you too enthusiastic about the idea of a workplace?
When you think about the type of room and the space you need to start, be realistic. If you’re not going to hire employees and invite clients to your office, why not set it up at home?
If you’re worried that you won’t be able to concentrate at home, then maybe you should think about a common workspace. Tim: “Don’t choose an office to make your ego fun, but only if you need it for your business purposes.
If you do decide to open an office, think about the number of employees you will need and the equipment: chairs, photocopiers, fridge, coffee machine, reception, conference room, etc. Besides, how fast do you plan to grow up? If you’re planning to grow fast, look for a place to grow so you don’t have to change your business address.
When it’s time to sign a lease, don’t be afraid to negotiate the details, but remember that most people will ask you to sign for at least a year.
If you have not yet decided where your company is located, read more information.
How do other companies do business in your industry? Does it or does it not work for you if you open a particular business in a particular location? Do you think there is a demand for this type of small or large business in your city right now? Or do you live somewhere where people cannot afford to buy what you sell?
Day 4: Determine how much money it takes to start a business
The question of seed money is a partial reason for a day fully spent on research and finding a place. If you work from home and do not meet with clients, initial expenses may include setting up an online store, online marketing, office supplies, any materials for work or legal costs. If not, you will have to spend enough to cover the rent and utilities for the first months, and to provide living conditions in the new office.
In any case, it is a good idea to split your expenses into two separate types.
Expenses: These include salaries, rent, consulting, transportation, food, and various legal expenses if necessary.
Assets: This includes such categories as furniture, signage, cars, trucks, buildings, land, property, etc.
Assets and expenses need not be interrupted. When you create a worksheet with the costs of organizing a business, write them separately.
The main task is to quickly open an online store from scratch and start involving the first potential customers, so you need 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 the golden mean.
Day 5: Start planning a business, not creating a clear “business plan”.
Although it sounds strange, the truth is that you will create an “official plan” later, in the second week, when you need to decide on a budget that is ready to invest in your business. And even then, you’ll start with a one-page plan.
You have to plan in order to determine the direction of your business. If you haven’t already started, the plan itself won’t do any good, but it’s imperative to plan before starting from scratch.
There are a few things you need to think about at this stage:
The features of your small, medium or large business.
Your market and people’s needs in it.
The steps you need to take and when to do it.
Budget for expenses.
Day 6: It’s time to explore the market
If you don’t think you can handle this step in a day, it’s no problem to spend a couple more. At the end of the day, you want to have a good understanding of your industry and the market.
There are many amazing ways to do research in your field of activity: to send out surveys yourself, to talk to people on the phone, to send out emails, and basically to consult with those who are also doing or have done all this.
Doing market research is very important because it will help you understand if there is a demand for the service or product you are offering. This will be useful in the future when writing a business plan, you will also see that there is a niche in the market for the business, otherwise the business will not develop fast enough to get your investment back.
There are many ways to collect this information:
Do online research – look for statistics on your industry, see who works in your area, sells something like you, what they do, and how they do it. Are they doing well? Can you start on a beaten path and succeed or do more by doing something else?
Shop, surf the web and shop, that is, do some “research” for yourself. See what products people spend their money on and how much they rate for certain products and services.
Talk to people – including customers.
Gather information – read local government websites or relevant publications about your industry.
Organize your own research – conduct telephone and email surveys, focus groups and ask people to answer your questions.
All you need to do to get started is review the seasonality and niche market through Google AdWords and Google Trends, with links to articles above. It is also worth paying attention to the fact that the niche can be small or large – over 1 million shows of potential subjects. It is also necessary to analyze competitors, as they invest in the development of their online store.
Day 7: solve the legal side of the issue
At this stage, you need to select and register your company name as well as the company structure. Many small business start-ups choose individual private enterprises. It is better to consult with a lawyer to ensure that you have done all the basic things and taken the right steps.
Week 2: Find Funding
Spend the next week working on a scheme, a business plan and exploring financing options. Keep in mind that your business plan can still be changed. It should remain a living document, because you are constantly growing and developing. Don’t stress yourself out, just use this week to focus on your thoughts, put together what you thought and learned in the first week.
You don’t have to rely on banks and government agencies to find money. You can also use your earnings and invest in your own business.
Day 8: Draw a one-page diagram
Treat the scheme on one page (brief information about the concept of your online store), 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 in addition to many other advantages, such as, for example, investors to work with such a general plan will be much easier (sad truth: most of them are not going to spend their time on reading your full business plan. Maybe just his explanatory note, but not the whole plan.).
In any case, creating a one-page layout is a good way to structure a business and define its essence. What exactly do you do, who your target audience, key partners and employees are, 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 (a lot of investors and lenders will still want to see it), it’s just a good way to sort out and experiment with your ideas.
It may not even take you a full day to create it, but it will be a great outline or basis for your business plan so you can build on what you need, do research and work on problems.
Day 9 and 10: Work on your business plan
In the first week we said “start planning a business, not creating a clear business plan”. That’s because many people think 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 the options. A business plan must always be “alive”. The plan with which you started a business from scratch can be quite different in a year’s time, because business changes too, and the economy changes, and the requirements.
However, if you want to go to a bank for a loan, you will need a business plan! Especially these institutions will be interested in your financial statements, it is obvious that they will want to see evidence that they lend money to someone who can pay it back.
In addition, when you create a business plan, you will be able to structure your discoveries, estimates and goals. Most likely, you will change it later, but first the plan will create an overall picture of your idea and collect the details of the puzzle.
Try to spend more than two days writing the plan. Probably better to divide it into two sections: financial and everything that goes before it.
It shouldn’t be too difficult, because you have spent the first week planning many of its items. It is better to start writing the explanatory note last.
Your business plan can be written as a simple Word document.
Day 11: set aside a day to explore funding options
Funding options will vary depending on the type of case you are involved in. Among the most popular options are the following:
Bank loan – the bank will definitely want to see your business plan.
Small Business Association loans – you will also need a business plan to get this loan.
Personal investment – you invest in the business yourself.
Friends and family – if there is little chance of getting a loan, perhaps the next best thing is your friends and family. But you should consider that this may affect the relationship with them.
Day 12-13: Finding a supplier for your products
You can start searching online for “Your product in bulk” requests, collect a contact database.
Buy a local newspaper, they can place ads of such 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 for your idea”, more information.
Day 14: Finding a contractor to build an online store and promote it
To avoid wasting time, you should start looking for a contractor to create your own online store. Of course, you can read the article how to open an online store yourself. But there are 50+ risks that it will be difficult and you will need to spend a lot of time and go to the painful rake.
Create a small Terms of Reference for what you plan to sell and submit applications to various online agencies and web studios. The easiest way to find them on Google is to search for different queries.
Check out the price and portfolio, as well as case studies for online store promotion.
Create a file where you can compare all your web studios by price, portfolio and manager.
Ask questions to find out and more about what’s going on in the market.
Week 3: Don’t stop.
Day 15: solve the problem of receiving payment
Did you know that very often people do not go out of business because of its unprofitability? One of the main reasons is that they do not have cash to pay their bills, pay their salaries and continue their activities.
Payments from customers can be received by card, account, cash or cash on delivery.
Day 16: Indicative calculation of potential profit
Calculating the potential conversion, which will be beneficial to me when the goods are sold, for example:
Price of goods – 800 USD.
The markup is 20%.
Earnings from one sale is 800 * 20% = 160 USD.
To get to zero, the price of attracting a client should not exceed 160 USD. And if it exceeds, then the task is to return it with a cheaper price to buy something else.
It is necessary to sell with a higher markup and more expensive goods. From the total amount for a month with the traffic of 300 people a day can be:
300 * 30 days * 1% * 800 USD = 72000 USD – turnover, and profit – 72000 * 20% = 14400 USD – as for the start it is very good.
Day 17: decide whether you need to hire employees or not
If so, place ads and try to start the robot interview/recruitment process at this stage.
It would be a good idea to resolve this issue as early as possible. Not only will it depend on the type of insurance you will have to buy (if you do decide to hire employees, you will need to pay compensation), the availability of staff can significantly increase the cost of organizing the business or help you to achieve your goals faster.
Will you really be able to do everything yourself first? If you need to hire someone with certain skills or education, please indicate what the person in the position should do and what the requirements are.
This should also help you when it is time to create a job description and publish an advertisement that should be addressed to your target employee.
How you can find employees:
Friends and family – use your closest contacts, maybe someone who can recommend you.
Look at your local school.
Contact a recruitment agency (if your time is short, they may be able to help you 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 the job online.
When inviting people for interviews, remember that there are questions that you can and cannot ask.
Pay attention to references, especially if the person you hired is 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 a website online store from scratch, you need to think about how to make your company a brand.
So, you must understand the “essence” of your business. This will not only help to stand out from the competition, but also make your message understandable, create value and become a key element of marketing. Your brand will help you to find out 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 from a business is to learn from others. Look at what they do. Do a lot of research, especially in your industry.
Day 19 and 20: Start representing your company online
Even if your business is not digital, it is important to present it online. Everybody’s doing it now. Even if you are not in the 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 page on the Internet, information about you is not distributed online. People will still leave reviews, discuss you on social networking sites, and write about you. If you don’t know all this, you just don’t have control.
This step takes two days, because the online presence takes quite a bit of time.
There are a few things that 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 hosting/online space – or ask someone to help).
Add yourself to Google Places’ list of businesses so you can literally show up on the map.
Get started on Facebook and VKontakte.
Also spend some time and figure out how you’re going to maintain your online presence. Your site will be a marketing tool, regardless of whether you use it to deliver information or to build your brand.
Day 21: Advertise
In fact, to work on advertising and promotion of its online store will have to constantly. But, as you just started and most likely have only a few clients, 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’s 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 problems.
Week 4: Now you are in business – it is time to start selling!
You have been carefully prepared. Now you definitely don’t have any excuses! It’s time to put aside your fear and start talking to people, selling, advertising and not stopping.
Let’s tell the truth. You only really do business when you sell. It’s worth starting as early as possible, even if you still have something to do in the process.
Day 22: Open your unique selling offer…
Your ‘USP unique selling proposition’ defines what makes you unique. You will need it if you are going to “sell your product” to potential customers immediately.
It will take some creativity and introspection to understand what your USP is like.
After detailed planning and completion of the initial stages, analyze your competitors and other companies. How do they sell themselves? What image do they create for themselves? What do they claim to make them unique? If you have doubts, look at the message of their advertising and online marketing. That’s where you’ll most often see USP and variations on the subject.
Do not analyze what they sell, analyze what goods they sell, as they say.
When you try to create your USP, try to put yourself in the place of consumers. What do they want? What do they appreciate? What are the advantages of your product or why should you prefer it over your competitor?
Tim Berry was very clear: “For effective marketing, you need to be an amateur psychologist. You need to know what drives and motivates consumers.
If you have already started your small (or other) business, you can also identify your USP, understanding the real reasons why consumers bought your product and not your competitor’s. How better to do it? Ask them! If you can’t ask your customers, because you don’t have them yet, why not ask your competitor’s customers this question?
Day 23 and 24: It’s time to start calling people, promoting your business, selling on the road, making contacts
Before trying to make connections, it’s crucial to create a clear list. This will help you focus on the right directions and the right people. Do your own research. If you are selling high-end products, there is no need to call customers or target those who live in low-income areas. And if you’re selling products for children, shouldn’t you focus on areas where students predominantly live?
And even if at this stage your business does not become a blazing success, you promote it from scratch and create a reputation. When people later need to use your service or buy a product, they may remember your call well.
If you’re selling away from the office, it’s a good idea to find out more about the customer first and then call them and ask about the visit. That way you can save both time and money.
Day 25: Do not deviate from your goals, keep in touch, etc
There are times when someone is interested in your proposal, and there are times when they have given a very specific reason to give it up, but there are many ways to get them to think about their original decision.
They can be treated as such:
Positive feedback from a mutual friend.
Lunch/meeting in a neutral environment with your supplier.
An invitation to visit yourself at work.
An article about your company – something that will put you in a good light or seem meaningful to them.
Remember, the most important thing to achieve your goal in this way is to think about what new information can make someone change their mind. What is it that might interest them, something you forgot to mention the first time you called?
Day 26 and 27: understand how you are going to maintain a relationship with your customers and then build, preserve and collaborate with your customers/target audience.
Now that you have managed to create your own audience or have several clients, you will need to maintain a constant relationship. Now many businesses do this with social media accounts, which very often replace customer support.
However, you must provide people with a way to contact you or someone in your company when they need to resolve an issue. And that way should be understandable so that customers don’t have to write on a social networking share page and that it doesn’t spoil your relationship.
What else can you do to maintain relationships with your customers:
When clients have birthdays, to congratulate them and wish them all the best.
Offer discounts for loyalty (if, for example, you’ve been working together for a year?).
Send out seasonal greetings.
Congratulate customers on their personal business achievements (you can even tell about it on your website / social page, if the customer allows, of course).
No matter how you are going to maintain the relationship, remember that, like advertising, it should be done all the time. It’s an ongoing effort, but it will also allow you to understand your customers and adjust to their needs with feedback.
Also run an e-mail newsletter to your customer base, where you will communicate with them and inform them about new promotions 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 be clear and you will eventually be able to make more informed financial decisions.
In addition, if you are accountable to your creditors and investors, these statements will confirm your reliability and help you avoid financial losses.
Take some time to familiarise yourself with accounting and reporting principles. Do you know which statements are important when filling out a tax return? Do you understand how to manage your costs and expenses?
If not, talk to your accountant and consult with your friends. They should help you get up to speed. You won’t even notice you’re a master of everything!
Day 29-30: Take a rest
If you have followed this 30-day manual, 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 the constant responsibility to ensure that everything goes according to plan.
Conclusion (and reservation):
The structure and pattern of each step is mainly taken from the manual in Tim Berry’s book “3 weeks before the start”. Nevertheless, the order of a few steps was changed, and a couple more steps were added so that you had more time to organize and that it was more real for the modern market and the opening of an online store in Ukraine. Also, in this guide you have one more extra week.
For most people, dividing lists of cases and solving complex tasks into 30 steps is suitable. So here you see something both “familiar” and doable.
To open and earn on your own online store is completely real, and it is really profitable. But you have to be patient and plan everything well. You also need to keep in mind the delegation, what you can do yourself and what to give to the contractor.