On the surface, the difference between an emerging business enterprise and any other business may not be easy to discern. It's when you get to know the entrepreneur behind the company and her motivations for starting it that the difference becomes crystal clear. While people may start businesses for a variety of reasons, like giving themselves a steady job or having more control over their work-life balance, the primary motivation of starting an enterprise is to make good money. "Profit" is the word that usually separates an enterprise from any other business.
Identify a Business Opportunity
When it comes to starting a successful company, having a great idea isn't enough. The internet is swarming with great ideas that never came to fruition because someone else capitalized on it first, or the creator was trying to answer a question that nobody asked. The key is to have an idea that can be leveraged into a profitable business.
This means doing a lot of research. Look closely at the markets in which you are interested and examine the products, customer buying behaviors and trends. Second, once you identify a potential opportunity, do some more research. Contact potential customers to find out what features they want the most and determine how much they may be willing to pay. Third, estimate how much it will cost you to provide the product or service to determine if it will be profitable or not.
Write Your Business Plan
The blueprint of a successful enterprise is your business plan. This is the document that will detail all of your research, how you intend to implement your business and where you will get the money to do so. You can begin working on your business plan as soon as you have identified a viable business opportunity, but be prepared to update it as needed, particularly when you begin to assemble your team and look for investors or financing.
A business plan should include:
- Executive summary: a short description of the plan, including the market opportunity you identified and how you plan to fill it
- Business description: explains the kind of enterprise you plan to start, what the industry is like now and how it will change in the near future
- Market strategies: identifies your customers and how you can compete against the weakness of competitors
- Development plan: describes your product or service and how you will develop it, including a budget
- Operations and management plan: explains how your enterprise will operate on a daily basis
- Finance: details from where the money will come, when you will get it and how you will get it
Assemble Your Team of Experts
Mark Zuckerberg didn't start Facebook all alone, and Apple wouldn't have gotten off the ground if Steve Jobs hadn't paired up with Steve Wozniak. It's important to do an honest self-assessment of your skills, your strengths and your weaknesses and then seek out people who have skills and expertise that will complement your own.
If you think you can start your enterprise on your own, it is still a good idea to find yourself some experienced advisers who can help guide you along the way. Connecting with a good lawyer and an accountant is often a good place to start.
Start Setting Up Financing
If you require financing, which is more likely when starting an enterprise compared to other small businesses, it will be worthwhile to find investors who also have an interest in working alongside you, on your corporate board or as an adviser.
If someone with experience in your market is willing to put up money to back your enterprise, it's likely that he will also be interested in doing what he can to ensure your business succeeds. If this person is reputable in your industry, that alone could get you the connections you need with suppliers and clients as well as making your enterprise more appealing to other investors if needed.
Enterprise Setup Overview
Once you have identified a business opportunity, researched it, developed a business plan and found financing, it's time to go into business. You will need to create your company, select a name and decide on its legal entity not to mention finding a location to begin your operations and looking at the first staff positions you will need to hire. This is really where the hard work and the fun begins, but it's not something to rush into until all of your other preparations are complete.
Always keep in mind that the research and planning you do while setting up your business will help ensure your enterprise starts on solid footing. Much like playing a game of chess, the time you spend setting up your business will put you in a stronger position when it's time to advance.
A published author, David Weedmark has advised businesses on technology, media and marketing for more than 20 years and used to teach computer science at Algonquin College. He is currently the owner of Mad Hat Labs, a web design and media consultancy business. David has written hundreds of articles for newspapers, magazines and websites including American Express, Samsung, Re/Max and the New York Times' About.com.