Some of today’s most influential businesses, like Amazon and Apple, began with just an idea.
Even if you have a business idea you really believe in, starting that business when you don’t have much in the way of money, time and other resources is daunting. So how can you follow that dream when you’re starting at ground zero?
If you know what you want to start, research your market and learn everything you can about your potential customers, your competition and your industry. Try to figure out what your audience wants and what will set you apart from your competitors. Then, create your business plan around those differentiators.
If you’re not sure exactly what kind of venture you want to start, market research can help you, too. If you’re starting off with more of a vague idea, begin by doing broader research to identify market gaps, then keep getting more specific until you’ve narrowed your focus to one marketable concept.
There’s so much that goes into running a successful business and so many variables along the way, it’s easy to get disorganized and then discouraged when you feel you’re not succeeding. To help you stay the course, set goals. That way, you can measure your progress and adjust your plans as you go.
Make your goals as specific, actionable and realistic as you can. Set a specific timeframe for your targets and identify how you will gauge your success. Always remember, too, that your goals will likely change as you progress.
This might seem contrary to the first two points, and while planning is important, there comes a time when you just need to dive in headfirst. That’s not to say you should start carelessly spending money and time, but you do need to be careful about getting paralyzed by the fear of starting.
There’s so much involved in starting a business, there’s no way you can plan for everything. Figure out how you can get started, and do it as soon as possible.
Use What You’ve Got
Some entrepreneurs want to wait until they have everything they could possibly need before starting their venture. They gather money and other resources, create a logo, a website, social media and other branding materials. While it’s never a bad idea to be prepared, you’ll never get off the ground if you wait for everything to be perfect.
Instead, look for ways to start with what you already have. Look for ways to reduce your costs. Get started in your spare time. Don’t wait to rent out that fancy office space. Launch your business online or from home. Some of today’s biggest companies, from Harley-Davidson to Disney, famously started in garages.
Grow as You Go
One way to get started sooner is to begin with just the basics and expand as you go. Amazon, for example, started out by selling books. Now, it sells practically everything and has its hand in many advanced technology projects. Choose one thing the rest of your business can grow from, and start with that.
Your starting point might be your core offering, or just one of many directions you can see yourself going in. Either way, begin with a small product, grow it constantly and you may eventually end up with an empire.
While the time may eventually come for you to find investors, hire employees or rent out an office space, you don’t necessarily need those things to launch a business. Even if you’re starting out with nothing, you can still be successful. Do what you can with what you have and remember many great companies started at zero, and you’ll be on your way.