If you're thinking of starting a business, you have some preparation to complete before your business launch. If you have everything you need to impress your audience on the day of your launch, you can expect to see better return on investment and improved engagement from your audience. Before you officially open your business to the public, make sure you have the following eight basics in place.
A Website and Branding Package
According to TechCrunch, as of December 2016, nearly 80 percent of Americans shop online. When you consider this stat, you need a killer website if you want your target audience to feel as enthusiastic about your startup as you do. A website should include descriptions of your products and services, an overview of your brand story, information about your brand message, and influential calls to action.
If you sell products, you also need a branding package, which can include photographs of your branded products as well as any peripheral materials, from business cards and brochures to promotional items. When you brand the imagery on your website, your business instantly looks more professional and trustworthy.
An Accounting System
Crunching numbers may not sound like fun, but it's an essential part of running a successful business. You need an accounting system that allows you to calculate profits and losses, measure revenue and cash flow, and understand logistics. The best accounting systems incorporate software as well as accounting professionals.
Startups often can't afford to hire a full-scale accounting team, so consider outsourcing your accounting needs. Even one consultant can help you maximize your spending and use your revenue appropriately.
A Business Plan
Without a business plan, your startup doesn't have much chance to succeed. A business plan has several sections that serve as a blueprint for your business, including the following:
- Executive summary
- Management organization hierarchy
- Description of the business
- List of sales strategies
- Competitive analysis
- Overview of products or services
- Funding demands and sources
- Financial forecasts or projections
You can enlist an attorney, CPA, or business consultant to help you prepare your business plan. If you want to seek outside funding for your business, the lender or investor will want to see a copy of your business plan, so make sure you have it in hand.
Access to Financing
Speaking of financing, many entrepreneurs can't support entire businesses with their checking accounts. Using your personal finances can tie you to the business in a dangerous way, making you legally liable for anything that should go wrong. You may benefit from a small business line of credit. Use the money when you need it, pay it back, and continue tapping the line of credit as new expenses present themselves.
A line of credit gives you access to cash, unlike a credit card, and often comes with lower interest rates. Plus, a business line of credit is easier to get than small business loans through a traditional bank, and you can continue to renew your funding as you pay back your balance.
A CRM Solution
Customer relationship management (CRM) has become one of the most essential facets of business management. A CRM is a software solution that lets you collect data on your customers, analyze patterns, improve your relationship with customers, usher clients through the sales cycle, and maintain consistency across departments.
You can also use CRM software to automate parts of the customer relationship. For example, you may want to automatically send welcome emails to prospects who sign up for your mailing list, then send them regular follow-up emails based on their activity on your website, the products in which they express interest, or their place in the sales cycle.
Of course, a CRM solution is not all about technology. CRM also refers to strategies and techniques you use to keep customers satisfied. For example, CRM can refer to your social media presence. If you use Twitter to respond to customer questions and complaints, you add a layer of transparency to your business and improve your brand image.
Mobile Content Or an App
Today, you need an app if you want to target mobile consumers. Even if you have a responsive website, many consumers won't bother typing in a web address when they're browsing the web on their phones or tablets. If you make an app available for free via the App Store, Google Play, and other vendors, you can reach more people.
Apps offer a way to deliver coupons, publish a weekly ad, give directions to your various business locations, and keep your customers up-to-date on your latest product or services offerings. However, prospects won't download your app only because you have an app. Incentivize them by offering app-only discounts and promotions so they feel like they need to take part in the experience so that they won't miss out.
Employees Who Double as Leaders
Startups need strong employees who assume leadership roles from the beginning. They take ownership of the company and treat it as their own, which means you can count on them to present a united front and to take care of your customers.
You can start by creating a leadership or entrepreneurial culture at your company. Give your employees plenty of responsibility so that they know you trust them. Reward successful behavior and offer guidance when they slip up. If you develop leaders within your organization, you can spend less time on micromanagement and more on big-picture aspects of running a business.
An Understanding of Profit Margins and Revenue
Profit margins can prove tricky, even for seasoned entrepreneurs. It's easy when you look at the raw numbers. For example, if you spend $1 to make a product, and you sell it for $2, your profit margin is 100 percent. However, you also have to calculate other costs, such as overhead, shipping, and marketing.
Get comfortable with the granular aspects of business profit margins and revenue so that you know where to spend your money and when to stop spending.
Starting a business can seem like an insurmountable task, but when you break down the basics into smaller parts, the process becomes easier to tackle. Use the above strategies to get your business ready for launch and to encourage sales on your first day.