Starting your own company is a little like giving birth to and raising a child. There are unexpected expenses, painful experiences, and seemingly endless hours of work. But when the business is finally up and running, you can look proudly upon the fruit of your efforts and smile.
Do your homework
As with child rearing, it’s always wise to do some research before jumping into business with both feet. Explore your competition. Get to know your target audience or market. Compare pricing with similar goods or services in your area.
Devise a plan
Having a good business idea is not enough. Every solid business is built on a solid plan. Sit down and write your business plan in great detail. If you are unfamiliar with this process, seek out a business plan template on the Internet, or use some reputable business-organizing software like Quickbooks as a guide.
The above steps are likened to the pregnancy stage of childbirth. They constitute the preparation period for the birth of your new business. Use this time wisely. The real fun is about to begin!
Ready, set, launch!
The launch period of your start-up business is both scary and exciting. You’ve done your homework, and now you are ready to push your infant business out into the public eye. This requires a tremendous amount of effort, but your adrenaline will carry you through. As you look back on this time later, it will seem like a magnificent and somewhat horrific blur of marketing campaigns, advertising slogans and office work. This is simply the normal angst of “business birth”.
Hold your business by the hand
Fast forward a few months to the toddler stage of your new business. Things are starting to move along without as much effort on your part. A customer base is building. Supply and demand is kicking in. Your sleep patterns are beginning to normalize. Don’t get complacent! You still need to run alongside this baby business to make sure it doesn’t stumble. Keep a close eye on your profit margin, and be sure to troubleshoot any customer complaints or service failures immediately.
Let the business grow in its own direction
Just as you would allow a child to make choices, be ready to let your business take its own direction. There may be an untapped market that you didn’t see when you wrote your business plan. Perhaps you need to expand your list of services to give the business more income options. Maybe your services are too diverse, making it hard to concentrate effectively on your customers’ needs. The goal is to keep business flowing. Don’t get too hung up on the direction in which it flows.
Maintain good parenting practices over your business
As your business matures, it needs less life support from you and more guidance. Manage from a distance so that your vantage point includes a “big picture” mentality. Allow the business to grow at a steady rate, addressing all of the common growing pains along the way. Delegate as much responsibility as possible to your employees, but always be available as a resource. Your guiding hand is the key to maintaining the company’s mission and core values.
Look back as you move forward
Every once in a while, look back at where you started and marvel at your creation. Smile proudly as you watch your business running strongly alongside the competition, remembering the nurturing and care that you poured into it during the early years. These are joys that cannot compare to corporate participation or big business ownership. This is the sweet success of parenting a small business!