So, you’ve got a fantastic new idea and ready to show it to the world. Could 2020 be the year you join the ranks of Canada’s 3.5 million entrepreneurs?
According to those who have taken a dream to actual implementation, doing so successfully is a multi-step process involves many considerations. When you rush it, launching a business can be full of minefields that could end a new venture before it starts.
Here are few basic building blocks budding entrepreneurs should consider:
Map it out: While the path ahead might seem straightforward in your mind, it’s important to commit your ideas to paper with a business plan – essentially, how you’ll get from ‘here-to-there,’ says Alison Kirkland, CEO of the Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada (WEOC).
Going through this exercise, she explains, allows you to ask yourself questions about the business launch, who will be involved, best and worst-case scenarios, and the target market.
“Doing the research, getting the data and writing the business plan are really critical steps to success,” says Kirkland. “They’re vital to evaluate the direction and to reflect on what you’re envisioning is viable and sustainable.”
Seek advice: As Ottawa-area success coach Heather Petherick says, being an entrepreneur and bringing a new product or service to market “is one of the loneliest journeys that we can walk.”
Those launching a new business should be careful not to isolate themselves during the startup phase. Connect with a business coach or industry association of your peers and potential mentors.
It may also be a good idea to speak with those who are five to 10 years into a business similar to the one you’ve planned, to discuss the realities and challenges they’ve faced, says Petherick.
Contacting a local entrepreneur support organization, such as the women’s enterprise support organizations that work with WEOC, can provide ongoing encouragement, direction and ensure budding entrepreneurs receive the correct advice regarding regional or provincial legalities, permits or requirements, says Kirkland. Some of these organizations also provide advice on financing options, as well as training workshops.
Go beta: Test the market before going all-in on a new business launch is crucial, says Petherick.
“Launching too quickly can kill a great idea prematurely,” she says. “Unfortunately, I see a lot of entrepreneurs over-investing in marketing before they’ve actually tested the product or service.”
Petherick recommends a minimum of six months in the testing phase where a business offers its product or service on a discounted rate to as many target clients as possible in exchange for feedback and/or testimonials for future marketing campaigns.
Master the Sales Process: Although many people start a business out of a passion for providing a service or creating a product, Petherick says it’s also important to spend time early on becoming proficient in the art of the sales conversation.
“I see a lot of entrepreneurs in the first three to five years ignoring sales and just thinking ‘well, if my website’s pretty enough or my packaging is cute enough or I’m priced right, clients will just show up’,” says Petherick.
“If they’re going to be successful, being passionate isn’t enough, they’ve got to get good at sales,” she says. “As an entrepreneur, generating sales in the beginning phase is on you.”