Starting a small business - where on earth do you begin?
I’ve been a small business owner for 4.5 years now. It’s crazy for me to think back on when I was just starting - the silly, silly things I was doing due to my lack of knowledge of ANYTHING! Sometimes I look back, frustrated that I didn’t “know better” or know as much as I do now. But the thing is, no textbook, no college education, or special degree can help you prepare to start a small business. It is truly an adventure where you have to “learn as you go.” I have made so many mistakes, small and large that I regret. But at the same time, I realize that if I didn’t make them, I wouldn’t know what I do now.
With building and launching Ignite Snacks, I am so passionate about my product, but I’m even more passionate about the education I have received in simply running my own company. I believe that it is invaluable and makes me appreciate my career even more. This education and experience is something that I want to share with my community, and especially, budding entrepreneurs. I want to encourage start-up entrepreneurs to go after their dreams, and provide a hub of knowledge and resources they can utilize to help them tackle typical challenges in the day-to-day small-biz struggle. Too much information can surely be daunting so I will make my posts short, and easy to approach. I will develop checklists, bullets, templates, brainstorming questions etc., for you to utilize as you develop your business.
Let’s call this: Small Business 101 and start from the very beginning. This post will address Product Potential and Market Research. You have a product that you love and want to launch. Great, congratulations! It’s a great feeling when you develop something you are passionate about. But, of course, the ultimate goal with starting a company is to make it profitable and support yourself. We gotta put food on the table and pay our rent! So while you may love your product, before you launch, it is important to determine if the public is going to love your product. More importantly, does the public NEED your product? This is a concept called Market Research. Usually, the most successful products are the ones that solve problems for consumers. Now, your product isn’t destined to fail if it’s not solving a problem - you just need to learn to be a good salesman! (more on that another time).
As you think about launching your product, the first step in determining whether or not your product will succeed is performing your Market Research. Below is a template of questions that I want you ask yourself and find the answers to prior to deciding to launch your product:
- Why did you come up with this product?
- What problem, or “pain point” did you face that made you decide to invent this product?
- Have you determined if other people have this same pain point?
- Would they benefit from your idea/product? If so, how?
- Is there a product already on the market to address your pain point?
- How many competitors are out there that are trying to solve the same problem as you?
- How is your product going to be better, more useful, or more effective than:
- Competitor A
- Competitor B
- Competitor C
Those are your first steps and questions to answer. If you can successfully answer these questions with confidence, congratulations! It sounds like you have a product that public will purchase!
Our next post will talk about creating a business plan - I promise, I won’t make it complex. My goal is to break it down into small steps to make it as digestible as possible. Stay tuned!