Launching Your Business
Where you go for financing depends on your type of business. Financing sources include: Self-financing, loans from friends or relatives, private stock issue, bank loans, partnership arrangements, angel investors, SME finance – including collateral-based lending and venture capital. Some small business are financed through credit card debt – a last resort because of high interest rates.
Most of your business decisions will have legal, financial, and/or liability implications, and smart entrepreneurs make sure they have an extended management team to advise them in specialized areas where they lack knowledge, ability – or interest. Your business advisors should include a lawyer, an accountant and bookkeeper, marketing and business consultants, website experts and insurers.
Now that you’ve worked out what advisors you need, how do you choose who to go with? Criteria for selecting professionals and consultants include:
- credentials and their length of time in practice
- type of clientele
- technical competence
- personal compatibility
- communication skills
- your level of commitment and their their availability
- ability to help you as your company grows
A good business relationship is extremely important to have with your advisors. You want to get along as you build and grow your business together. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – it is best to know everything up front and remember, you have every right to know how much your advisors will be charging you.
Marketing and branding
Ask 5 people to define marketing, and you’ll likely get 5 different definitions. Most people associate marketing with selling, but it is actually a process that involves all the activities you do to:
- create an awareness of your product or service and
- convince people that your products or services are exactly what they want. This includes pricing, packaging, availability, and customer service.
Branding is the use of a name, logo, tag lines, or design (including colours and symbols) – usually a combination – to identify a product or company so that customers easily remember it. Once you have got your brand worked out you need to follow the What, Who, How, Where and Which.
- WHAT – Develop business cards, letterhead, and a website
- WHO – Determine who your target market is and how you’re going to price your products and services
- HOW – Decide how and where you’re going to advertise and distribute your product or service
- WHICH – determine which of the many low-cost or no-cost marketing opportunities are worth pursuing (networks, memberships, donating your services, social networking, blogs, etc.) – remember they all take time
- AND – develop an elevator pitch – a 1 minute (or less) version of your business strategy and the value of your company
Careful planning of the marketing mix is an area that most new business owners tend to overlook.
Get help from a professional. Unless you have a strong marketing background, you’re best not to try to do this without the help of a professional. Remember, we can’t be good at everything. Do what you know best and leave the rest to your trusted business advisors.
Before implementing your marketing plan
Before implementing your plan, make sure that you are completely satisfied with the overall package and that it projects the right image about you and your services. Once you start implementing, mistakes and errors in judgment can be expensive – and not just financially.