Suzanne Freiberg asked:
So, you have just come up with the best one-of-a kind idea since sliced bread and want to launch your own business. Congratulations, you are on the road to the American dream of becoming an entrepreneur! Now let me extend my deepest sympathies for the pain you will experience as you try to get your business started.
Hey, don’t stone the messenger; I’m not the only Negative Nelly on this topic! The facts are, as stated by the Small Business Administration, 80% of small business start ups close within the first five years. But, maybe you and your idea are different and you are prepared to beat the odds. If you still want to give it that ol’ college try read on. (My apologies to those of you whom I have completely devastated. However, keep in mind that if you are still reading and I haven’t scared you off yet…you could have what it takes to start your own business.)
Have you ever wondered why we are in awe of the Bill Gates and Martha Stewart’s of the world? Have you ever wondered why they are one-of-a-kind kinda’ guys/gals and are so well known? Well, I think it has something to do with the blood and guts they had to donate to start and be successful in their own businesses. Anyone can start their own business, but only 20% of those starters are still in business after five years and even fewer are actually running a successful business; that means making money. So, this journey definitely takes more than what 80% of us have. Are you still reading? Ok, you may have what it takes.
What it takes to launch your business (we’ll leave the part about actually being successful to another article) is what I refer to as the “Eight Steps to A Successful Start”:
1. Determine Your Niche,
2. Identify Your Ideal Client,
3. Develop Your Unique Value Proposition,
4. Create Your Brand,
5. Prepare a Business Plan,
6. Prepare a Marketing Plan,
7. Develop a Sales Strategy, and
8. Accept failure, learn from it and re-group
Please note that the first eight steps have nothing to do with what you actually want to “do” in your business. In other words, if your dream is to be a career coach, you won’t actually be coaching clients until you have been a marketer, sales person, financial expert, and strategist. Oh, and for those brave Internet entrepreneurs you will also have to become an Internet guru. Note: if you know what mega-tags are, congratulations you are well on your way! Back to my point, what is important to keep in mind is that for most business launches it takes a full two years before you are “doing” whatever it is your business is all about and before you are ever the business owner of your dreams. Still reading? You are already beating the odds!
Let’s take a look at Step One, “Determine Your Niche.” Your niche is determined by defining exactly what group of consumers will be your customers. This group will consist of people who have specialized interests and needs, and have a strong desire for your service or product. An example of a strong need would be an attorney who needs a well organized back office system to keep track of past and current case loads. The group in this case is “attorneys” and the specialized interest/need is all about well-organized back office systems. So, if your product is a well-organized back office system for attorneys, this guy/gal is in your niche.
Once you have identified a group with specialized interests and needs, now known as “your niche”, you have to ask and come up with answers to the following questions:
Will this group spend money for my product/service? And, do they have the money to spend? A good way to tell is if they have spent money for similar products/services in the past. For instance, “moms” might be a great target market for a new type of stroller, especially since they have spent money on similar products. However, not all new moms have money to spend on a new stroller. You would then want to specifically target moms who have more disposable income – i.e. extra cash for your one of a kind stroller!
Can I easily find and then reach this group of people? Physicians are easier to locate than moms. Why? Well, one reason is because physicians are listed as a group in the yellow pages. So, if your have a product/service that targets a professional group such as physicians you will have an easier time reaching your niche. Whereas, if you are targeting moms it might be harder to find that group, since they don’t yet have their own heading in the yellow pages!
Is this group large enough that I can make money selling to them? If your product/service is eye patches for one-eyed pirates, you may need to expand your group. However if you are selling a new bra to women who have had breast enhancement surgery you might have a hit!
Is this group small enough that my competition would overlook it? Yes, your competition might have over-looked the one-eyed pirate market, but that is because this group is too small. However, if your product/service is directed towards a specific need that a specific group has, i.e. women who have had breast enhancement, you might just have the perfect small market.
Have you been a part of this group? You must know the needs of your niche market. The best way to know those needs is if you have been in that group and understand the group’s dreams and desires. If you have ever been an attorney, who had need of a well-organized back office, then you would be well prepared to create and offer this service to attorneys.
Is this a group you would enjoy working with exclusively? Maybe you once were an attorney and that is where you came up with this great back office system. That’s great, but if you got out of the litigation business because you didn’t like your peers….you might want to re-think your idea of selling your handy dandy back office system to attorneys.
Can you see yourself creating other product/services for this group? No one wants to be a one-hit-wonder, ala Billy Ray Cyrus and his Achy Breaky Heart! Once you have sold everyone in your niche one of what you have to offer – where do you go from there? If your price point is high enough, maybe you go on to retirement in Hawaii, however, if you are selling a $1.99 product, you will need a way to expand your line as your business grows.
Are you passionate about your product/service?
The amount of time and energy, or as I mentioned earlier “blood and guts”, that it will take to launch a business is huge! You had better passionately believe in what you are doing and whom you are doing it for, if you want to successfully launch your business.
Well there you have it, the first step in launching your business; Determining Your Niche. Take some time and answer all of the questions outlined above for your product or service. You might find that you want to make a few modifications to fit your niche or maybe you need to change your niche to better suit your business. Either way, just by taking the time to complete this first step you are already on the road to the American dream of becoming an entrepreneur. Congratulations! (And, a little sympathy for your time and trouble!)
In the coming weeks look for “So, You Want to Launch Your Own Business? May I Offer My Congratulations and Deepest Sympathy. Part II: Identify Your Ideal Client”
Keep in mind that a career coach can help you through all of these business launch steps. Career coaches act as guides on a journey of greater self-awareness and clarity, helping you to find your true passion. Your coach can help you create an action plan to get from where you are to where you want to be in your career and in your life. Once you are working in your strengths you will find you are passionate about what you are doing and the journey is not as painful as if you had made it alone.
To find out how a coach can help you, contact SmartWork
Career Coaching 805.376.1906 or e-mail sfreiberg@verizon
.net. One of our Career or Executive Coaches will be happy to discuss your coaching options.
Â© Copyright 2006 Suzanne Freiberg. All Rights Reserved.