There are plenty of things to consider when starting a business. In fact, the list can become so overwhelming that it’s easy to miss some fairly critical steps along the way. If you’re serious about starting a business, though, you’ve likely already done your homework.
Rather than simply throwing yet another simplistic “to do” list at you, then, here are a few of the less commonly discussed aspects of entrepreneurship that are certainly worth considering before you get too far into the process of launching a startup.
Consider Friends and Family
Everyone has heard the advice that you shouldn’t hire your friends and family to help run your company, and we won’t rehash it here. The advice regarding your acquaintances and kin usually stops there, but there’s another perspective to the “friends and family” issue that should be carefully considered before you start your business: how it will affect them.
It’s easy to see your company as “your own,” but the truth is, starting a business is a lot of work. If you’re going to dive into the time-consuming life of entrepreneurship, make sure that your friends and, especially, your family are okay with your temporary disappearance as you launch the venture.
The approval of your significant other and your children, in particular, should be sought out in order to gain the assurance that you’ll have their support when those stressful days and long work nights roll around from time to time.
Think About Your Supply Chain
If you’re planning on selling a product, you may be pinpoint focused on getting a prototype off the ground — and that’s certainly a good place to begin. However, if you don’t take the time to understand the rest of the process that goes into supply chain management, you’re going to find yourself scrambling before long.
If you’re new to the term (which is a big red flag that you need to do some more research!), supply chain management is simply the process of sourcing raw material and then shepherding it through the manufacturing, marketing, and selling process. In other words, it’s the entire process that goes into turning raw materials into your products and then delivering them to vendors or consumers.
Not only do you want to ensure that you have your supply chain mapped out, but you also want to have contingency plans in place if it is temporarily disrupted. For instance, the coronavirus that shut down much of the world in early 2020 left many supply chains dead in the water. Having a plan to temporarily reallocate existing resources or even tap into alternative sources of supply for short periods of time can help your operation avoid unnecessary pauses in production.
If you haven’t mapped out at least roughly how your supply chain will work, you may want to do so before it holds you up.
Make Sure You Have a Unique Selling Proposition
If you have an idea for a business, you can rest assured that someone, somewhere has thought of it already, too. The big question going into launching a new startup, then, is why your product or service is better.
This is known as your unique selling proposition (USP). A good USP can come from a product or service itself, but it doesn’t have to. For instance, consider the example of Structure Studios. The landscaping company has numerous competitors in a crowded market. However, they’re one of a handful of companies that have incorporated virtual and augmented reality into their marketing by creating an app called YARD.
The app can literally bring landscaping plans to life in order to show a potential customer what their yard will look like. This USP allows them to captivate their audiences with the potential of “what could be” and, by extension, garner their business.
What is your company’s USP? What helps you stand out? Is it something that makes your product particularly valuable? Is it a service that no one else can do as well as you? Or is it something about your marketing, selling, or another element of your business model that will help it uniquely stand apart?
Consider the Nitty Gritty
Finally, don’t get caught up in the “cloud nine” aspects of starting a business. While it’s okay to get excited about product prototypes, new office spaces, and long-term plans, at a certain point you need to rein in the focus. Consider questions like:
- How organized and efficient are you as an organization?
- Have you ensured that your data is secure and your employees are trained to keep it that way?
- Are you structured to be able to scale your company if you grow?
- Are you taking advantage of automation to streamline basic things like communication, collaboration, and workflow?
- Will you be able to maintain detailed records of your operations right from the getgo?
- Do you have business partners that you respect and who have complementary skillsets?
- Have you created a budget that enables you to affordably launch your company?
- Do you need to rent a storage space for your business?
If you take the time to wrestle with these nitty-gritty questions, you’ll be able to smooth the path to success in the future.
Finding Entrepreneurial Success
Starting your own business doesn’t just involve saving up some cash, finding a partner you like hanging out with and grabbing a cool business domain name. It’s a complicated, thought out process that should be handled with care.
With that said, it’s also an extremely rewarding process that can lead to incredible life experiences and even — with a large dose of sweat equity and a side helping of luck — financial success in the future.