5 Things to Tackle Before Opening Your New Business
You’re finally doing it — you’re opening up your dream business. But before you open your doors, you should review your entrepreneurial punch list to make sure you’re ready. The big picture in front of you is vital, but it can obscure the details that can make or break a new venture.
Pause to check that you’ve got the essentials in place before you set the date for your grand opening. Whether your business is brick-and-mortar, sole proprietor, or field-based, common themes connect them all: connectivity, brand, market share, and financials.
1. Connect to the Right Tech
High-functioning tech is nonnegotiable for any company, increasingly serving as the backbone for business as we know it. Analyze your business needs and where tech comes into play, down to the last detail. Start with the basics: internet and Wi-Fi capabilities, email marketing platforms, customer resource management (CRM) solutions, and document management. These tech tools can help you organize your business while meeting the needs of your customers.
Be sure you’re choosing reputable vendors for high-priority tech. Research Wi-Fi equipment suppliers to get recommendations on what capabilities will keep your business running smoothly. Consider cloud-based tech for both CRM and email marketing platforms so they’ll be right-sized for your anticipated customer base. Thoroughly vet candidate systems to ensure they’ll be compatible with your intended way of working.
2. Stake Your Claim Where It Counts
Now that you’ve got your tech squared away, it’s time to confirm brand ownership. Settling on a company name is hard, and once you do so, it’s essential to claim what’s yours. Steer clear of a name that’s similar to probable competitors or another business, especially if the resemblance could cause confusion. To avoid legal difficulties, check with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to ensure your prospective name hasn’t already been registered by another company.
If the coast is clear, purchase your domain name and any similar domains that you can point to your core website. For example, a pet salon called “Precious Paws Spa” could have multiple domains that relate to its specialty. Usually available for less than $20, relevant domains can help drive more business and establish market share.
Claim your social media pages, too, even if you don’t plan on using them immediately. This will help prevent copycats and confusion. Facebook and Twitter are among the most popular, while Instagram can engage customers through compelling visuals.
3. Know Who Your Ideal Customers Are and How to Solve Their Biggest Problems
You may have landed on your business idea after years of honing your skills in your industry. But do you know who needs your expertise?
Before you launch, start with a strong prospect list and develop a plan of attack to earn their patronage. This can be achieved by doing a market analysis, reaching out to existing contacts, or engaging in an industry group. Even if you’re confident in your offering, none of that matters unless you have someone ready to buy.
Create your prospect list by logging everything you know about your potential customers: contact information, pain points, and potential sales pitches. While you may see a larger potential in your engagement with them, aim to start with a reasonable entry point.
If you’re opening up a full-service landscaping business, this could mean engaging new residential customers with a spring mulching offer. After a successful one-time job, you could nurture the relationship into summer weed control, later pitching fall leaf cleanup. The problem you’re solving is twofold: improving their landscaping and giving them the gift of time.
4. Establish Realistic Revenue Goals
Businesses exist both to provide services to customers and support the financial needs of their owners and employees. Even if your profitability expectations are modest, it’s essential to cover basic operating costs.
Review the costs associated with running your business — space, equipment, labor, insurance, etc. — to get a baseline of your obligations. Remember, part of the cost includes the time you spend running it, so include that amount in your calculation. Determine any tax or licensing requirements you’ll owe specific to your industry to avoid surprises later down the road.
Now review your pricing structure and ensure that it’s both competitive and reflective of your unique offer. If you’re higher-priced than others, make sure that you convey why you’re worth the investment during your sales process. Compare your customer list, bookings, and revenue possibilities to ensure you have a path to profitability. If your numbers need work, improve them by identifying costs to cut or further revenue opportunities before you go full-time in your business.
5. Solidify Your Tax Standing
You don’t want to mess with the Internal Revenue Service, so make sure you understand your tax obligations upfront. Review the IRS website and contact your local chamber of commerce or the U.S. Small Business Administration for support. Often, these offices have business coaches available at no cost for budding entrepreneurs. Consider their advice and direction as you determine your likely tax commitments.
Once you know what you’ll be required to file, establish a process that you can maintain to stay organized. If you’re collecting sales tax, set up a separate account within your business banking to separate the balance. Set regular times to update paperwork, file quarterly taxes, and review obligations.
Celebrate Your New Venture With Everything in Place
Now that you’ve confirmed that the essentials are in place, you can kick back and relax, right? Hardly! While entrepreneurship may be anything but relaxing, going out on your own and establishing something that’s yours can’t be beaten. The days can be long and stressful, but the accomplishment may be one of the most rewarding of your life.