Getting to Know Your Business: It May Just Make or Break It

Starting out we all have an idea of how we want our business to be, what it is, and what it is going to become. The funny thing is it never seems to turn out to be exactly what we imagined, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it can be the best thing that ever happens to you and your business. The truth is businesses, like people, have growing pains, changes, and evolve. In those initial months, or perhaps years, there is absolute need to get to know your business.
 

Keep an Open Mind

 
No market or business landscape is stagnant. Consumer wants change, opportunities come and go, and innovation occurs. Naturally your start-up is going to change with these external changes as well. At least it should. Really, we just never know what opportunities may arise. New product possibilities and potential partnerships can happen at any time. These discoveries can lead to fruitful success and are definitely a part of getting to know your business. The bottom line, don’t be afraid to adapt and pursue new opportunities that you may not have planned on originally.
 

Finding Your Niche

 
Within your industry there are several strategies to gaining market share. To name a few, you can pursue new technologies and have a first-mover advantage, you could simply do the same thing as others but cheaper, or you could create a specialized product that fills the need of a very specific submarket within your large scale market. All have their advantages and potentially lead to success. Your job is to pick one. This also is a process of simply getting to know your business. What do you do especially well? Are you more cost-efficient? Do you fill a special need somewhere? Or do you have the latest and greatest trend?
 
Most business professionals will tell you to pick one and run with it. This is great advice whether you are just starting out or are an established business. Don’t try to wear too many hats. But sometimes as your business progresses your niche may not be what you thought it would. This is a process of getting to know your business over time. A few months or years in you will probably have to adjust your niche market in some way.
 

Hold on Loosely

 
Your business is your baby. Most entrepreneurs feel this way and have a tight grip on the reins. As cheesy as this may be, I think some great advice for entrepreneurs comes from some old song lyrics, “Hold on loosely, but don’t let go.” In sports you often hear coaches say, “Don’t force it.” This is true in the business world. Often we try to force plans or deals like a quarterback trying to squeeze a pass in a hole that isn’t there or a baseball player trying to hit every pitch out of the park. Every once in a while we need to take a risk but most often it’s best to take what the defense gives us. Sometimes we just need to take a step back, assess the situation for what it is, and then make some objective decisions about where we are and where we are going.
 
The growing pains of a business can be hard, but if we make an effort to get to know our business as it evolves our chances of success will increase. As you keep an open mind to new opportunities you will be pleasantly surprised as to what you accomplish.

Four Considerations for Monetizing Your Idea

Everyone wants to create a business out of their interests, passions, or ideas but finding out how can be tricky. Monetizing your business idea can be a difficult process that every entrepreneur faces. So, you’ve reached that step where you have an idea and want to monetize it, what things should you think about? Let’s take a look at a four early considerations for monetizing your idea.
 

Keep Your Debt Low

 
The early stages for introducing a new product or starting a new business are filled with a lot of trial and error.
This can be in business processes or simply product development. Any way you shake it, starting a business is a learning process. It is vital for future success that you are not swimming in debt before your product even hits the market. Set a number for the amount of debt you are willing to take on in early product development, seek investors, or bootstrap the early stages of getting your idea of the ground.
 

Determine and Understand Your Target Market

 
This could be the most important question you’ll ask yourself as you start your business: Who is going to buy my product? Without clients and customers you don’t have a business. They are the foundation to monetizing your idea. Test your product, find the type of people it attracts, and further adapt it to meet their needs.
 
A couple months ago I spoke with a college student trying to create a new product for women. He took it to a convention in order to introduce his idea for the first time with the hopes of getting sales off the ground. Over the weekend he sold a handful of the many products already produced but the number of sales were definitely discouraging. But from the event he received valuable information about his target market. He found that something as small as color affected sales in older demographics and that the current brighter colors were not selling. So he made two changes: Began to produce more traditional colors and began to market to much younger demographics.
The event was very beneficial for him and really cost effective. Try something similar in order to test your product before getting too carried away. This will help you understand who your target market is.
 

Find Distribution Channels

 
After finding your target market it is important to consider how your product will be delivered in a cost-effective manner. Consider if you will open your own store, sell to already existing retailers, or do your business completely online. Finding efficient and cost-effective distribution channels can make or break your business.
 

Price

 
Last but not least is price. There is no way around it, price almost always matters. Once again, test your product and this includes pricing. Adopt one or several pricing strategies that work for you and your market. Example pricing strategies include but are not limited to; penetration, skimming, premium, cost-based, and competition. Before setting price before you consider your own costs, competition pricing, and your target market’s willingness to pay.
 
These four considerations will help you find a way to monetize your new idea in a smart way. Where there is will there is always a way to make your ideas, interests, or passions into a monetized product/service.

5 Reasons Why You Should Write a Business Plan

Many people choose not to write a business plan before starting their business. Some believe that a business plan isn’t necessary for new business owners unless they are seeking outside funding while others think it is too time consuming. Each has their reason but truly they are missing out on a valuable resource going forward.
 
Truthfully, the value of the business plan is as high as the creator chooses for it to be. It can either offer a huge upside or it can just be a means to an end. The choice is up to you. Here are five benefits a good business
plan can offer.
 

Easy to follow and measurable objectives.

It is commonly accepted that goals lead to success. Use your business plan to clearly define key business measures and then objectively choose quantifiable measures. These will help you prioritize your work and gauge success in the future.
 

You’ll be able to track your progress better.

This is a continuation of the number one. After creating objective business measures, use them to your advantage. This is where the business plan really gains value. The more these goals are revisited, measured, reworked, and adapted the more your business will grow. Track your progress from the beginning through your business plan.
 

More accurate forecasts.

Admittedly, most forecasts are wrong. We know that, you know that, everyone knows that, but that doesn’t mean that they should be useless. There is a reason that nearly all corporations spend valuable time and money on creating forecasts yearly, monthly, and weekly in order to promote efficiency. They know it will help them in key business processes. By taking the time to create the most accurate forecasts possible you are only helping your business be more efficient in the future. Don’t bog yourself by overshooting your costs or by committing other financial mistakes simply because you didn’t want to spend the time on a better forecast.
 

Increased ability to adapt strategy as your business grows.

We already talked about tracking progress and setting measurable objectives and the importance of them. The truth is you’re business landscape could completely change from what you had originally envisioned. This is often attributed at being one of the greatest weaknesses of the business plan but, in fact, should be one of its greatest strengths. A good, workable business plan will help you recognize this change sooner, allowing you to make strategic adjustments as your business grows. Remember, a business plan isn’t necessarily set in stone.
 

Better understanding of internal business processes and external factors.

The business plan is a learning tool. Done correctly it will walk you through your business model and all the intricacies of doing business. At the end of the day, you should understand your business, your market, and yourself better than anyone out there. Your business plan will help you achieve this. You will come to understand your strengths and weaknesses, your competitor’s strength and weaknesses, and you will understand who benefits from your success. These are all powerful things to know when deciding how to market, innovate, and grow your business.

A business plan will help you and your business going forward. As stated before, the choice is yours as to how much value or upside it will provide you as you seek to take your great idea and turn it into something special.