I work with dozens of Canadians every year who want to start a new business. My advice is always, start with a plan. In addition, commit yourself to
- Learning what is involved in owning a successful business and acting on that knowledge.
- Spending smart and saving smart.
- Learning from others’ mistakes.
- Not overthinking things, they are not as complicated as you think they are.
New Business Do’s and Dont’s
Do Analyze Your New Business Idea
The first thing to do is take a look at your new business idea. Does your product or service solve a problem for someone? For example, my new online business development program solves the problem of “I have a great new business idea but don’t know where to start”. A new house cleaning service solves the problem of not enough time or freeing up the time to spend with family. A new art supply store might solve the problem of nowhere local to buy art supplies.
Next, identify who you solve a problem for. What makes them suffer? How will their lives change once they have used your product or service? In my case, I solve problems for Canadians who want to start or expand a small business. In most cases, they don’t know what they don’t know. My products and services help answer all of their questions, even the ones they don’t know they have. The house cleaning service may serve busy professional women with active children. The art supply store will supply local artists who have had to source their supplies in another community.
Do Market Research for Your New Business
Market research is a vital step in planning to launch your new business. Even though you know you solve a problem and you know who you solve it for, you need to confirm that there are enough people (or businesses) in your market to make your product or service viable. You will find this out through research about demographics, consumer trends and your competition.
Do Know Your Ideal Client Inside and Out
Does KISStrategies serve any Canadian who wants to start or expand a small business? In a word, no. Our Ideal Client serves a city or town of fewer than 100,000 people, has fewer than 5 employees, and has been in business for less than 3 years. Does this mean we will not work with other businesses? No, but we get our best results with folks who fit into our Ideal Client profile.
What should you know about your Ideal Client? Start by giving some thought to who will most benefit from your product or service. Is your product or service gender specific? Will it appeal to a certain age group? Is it for families? What is important to your ideal client? Are they eco-conscious? Do they live an active lifestyle? Are they health conscious? What will cause them to decide to buy? There is a lot involved in this and the closer you can get to defining their story, the more successful you will be. Check out our Ideal Client Worksheet to help you with this process.
Do Understand Your Marketing Mix
The marketing mix was defined in the early 60’s as the 4 P’s or Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. Once you understand your ideal client (People is the 5th ‘P’) you are in a position to ensure that all of your other “P’s” work in synergy with them.
As an example, we will look at a business offering companion and personal driving services to seniors. It is important to understand what they want from the service being offered. Will it include grocery shopping, meal prep, and light chores? Defining your product or service in detail requires you know who your people are.
Are the seniors well-off or on a fixed income? This information helps to determine pricing that will be acceptable to the market. Beware setting prices that are too low. If you don’t value what you offer, others will not value it.
As for “place”, the very nature of the business makes it mobile and therefore it does not necessarily have a location outside of the home.
As for promotion, are the senior clients active online or do they still read the local paper? Knowing who your ideal client is, helps to formulate your marketing message and make sure it reaches them where they are.
Do Understand the Legal Requirements for Operating Your New Business
There are different laws and regulations that may affect your ability to operate your business at the federal, provincial, and municipal level. Universal requirements include obtaining the applicable business licenses, conforming to local zoning by-laws, and registering with CRA are just a few. It is important to understand what legal requirements your new business has and to operate in compliance with them.
Do Save Smart, Spend Smart
This is one of the most important parts of operating a successful business. I hear time and again things like “when my business is up and running I will buy insurance” or “I can’t afford to spend much on marketing right away” or “I don’t have the money to pay for that business workshop” or “hiring a bookkeeper is too expensive”.
Let me tell you right now, you will do your self no favours by trying to save money in areas that are vital to your success and stability.
Let me give you some real-life examples:
- An exterior paint spraying company waits to get insurance until “they can afford it”. They get a contract to do some line painting for the city, the wind picks up and carries the paint over the adjacent new car lot. Disaster.
- A local family-owned business gets their daughter to do the bookkeeping because “bookkeepers cost too much”. The daughter doesn’t have any related skills but she is really good with numbers. One day the parents, who own the business, get a letter from CRA asking why they have not been filing their payroll remittances and GST remittances. They owe thousands of dollars plus penalties and interest because the daughter didn’t know this needed to be done, and the parents were so caught up in the day to day operations they didn’t even think about it until the letter arrived.
- A woman opens a small business out of her home. She is always thinking up new ideas and is sure she has a winner, so she moves into a small retail space. Yours truly advises that she take her business development program, to which she responds “I don’t have time to create a business plan and right now I don’t have the money”. She continues to be abuzz with ideas and 7 months later she moves into a much larger retail space and leases some expensive equipment because she just knows she has a great product and people will buy it. 9 months after that, the doors are closed and bankruptcy is the only option.
Investing in yourself and your business will go a long way to helping you grow a business that is profitable and fulfilling. I urge everyone I meet who wants to start their own new business to take the time and spend the money to do it right the first time. Starting out with a strong foundation, a plan, and the knowledge you need will save you thousands in the long run.
To make sure you cover all the bases, please feel free to download my FREE Startup Checklist now.