This article summarizes key points from the Getting Started section by describing step by step how to get a running start without a business plan.
Step 1 – Have the right stuff
Search your sole and make sure you have what it takes to be a small business owner. See my article on “What it takes to be an Entrepreneur”. If you’re looking for something a little easier than what you are currently doing, this is not a good choice for you. Make sure you have the courage, work ethic, vision, leadership and confidence. Be prepared to write .. and write a lot! The complexity of what you are about to do can’t be done ad-hoc. You need to plan, be organized and write .. write a lot.
Step 2 – Get a good Idea
Starting a small business is about finding a problem that needs to be solved. As I discussed in my article “How to Test Your Small Business Idea Part 1” and Part 2, you are looking to solve a problem that is not adequately being addressed. You are looking for a problem that lots of people have or a problem that a few people have but would be willing to pay a premium. Be sure to remove yourself from your window and view from the buyer’s perspective. No profit, no business. This even applies to most non-profits. While your passion may be your cause, you still need profit to grow the cause.
Step 3 – Know your destination
Before you can build a roadmap to a successful small business, you need a destination. As I mentioned in my article “Business Plan .. Not the first step”, it is important to understand both your definition of success and your definition of failure. How big of a company do you want to build? What motivates you? These are key questions to answer before developing your plan.
Step 4 – Assemble your team
Starting a business requires a number of skills to be successful. Since you have a passion for the problem you are likely the expert on the solution. But what about the other skills like business, accounting, marketing, project management, and legal just to name a few? As discussed in “Recipe for Business Success”, this is the first big hurdle. You have little or no money and you don’t have all of the necessary skills. One solution is to scale down the business so that some of the skilled tasks can be deferred until the business has some revenue. Another is to seek free or nearly free help from friends, family and volunteer organizations like SCORE.
Step 5 – Develop a plan
This isn’t necessarily a business plan (unless you are seeking a loan or investment) but is more of a project plan. It starts with setting goals that are aligned with your vision (definition of success). The near-term goals need to have a clear set of objective deliverables. So an objective deliverable would be: complete a buyer persona. Then itemize the tasks to deliver. Something like: 1. Research the target demographics by searching census and other sources of data; 2) Plan out where to locate people to ask; 3) Assemble list of questions that will be key to determining product viability; 4) Ask 10 strangers the questions; 5) Compile the results into a buyer persona.
This concludes the “Getting Started” section. Next we will enter the “Marketing” section.