Your first year into entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurs are among the most powerful transformers of the world. Entrepreneurship has provided us with solutions to our problems, made our life easier, brought change and introduced creativity into our lives. In a way, entrepreneurs are the super heroes of the real world.
While one of the most unique things about being an entrepreneur is that you build a business on your own terms, no superior involvement, no superior management or control, the planning and dedication an entrepreneur must put into their business cannot be matched by that of any job. The first year into entrepreneurship is of critical importance and much of it is expected to be spent on planning and setting solid grounds for your business to avoid wastage of money, time and to prevent the later occurrence of heartache.
In this article, we have tried to break down the steps and the plans every entrepreneur needs to check out from their list before they start operating. The time span for the following steps can vary depending on many variables, but generally speaking, these steps are expected to be completed within one year or less.
If you like your business idea so much, then the first most logical step to take now is to invest in a solid feasibility study. A feasibility study is carried out to assess if your business idea is viable or not. The viability is assessed based on market research, financial projections and cost estimations and the technical feasibility of the operations needed to bring business to life. You may refer to our previously published article (The nuts and bolts of a feasibility study) for more details about feasibility studies.
You’re probably thinking right now that “VMOSA” sounds like a name of an ancient Greek goddess. Well it is not. VMOSA is a strategic plan that helps you define your unique business and gives it direction and guides your efforts. It is short for (Vision, Mission, Objectives, Strategies, Action plan).
- Vision – or your dream, it should reflect the ambitions and aspirations of your business.
- Mission – which is basically the reason your business exists, the purpose you started it. The mission statement is more realistic in nature.
- Objectives – which are the measurable specific steps that will help you achieve the stated mission.
- Strategies – the means by which you will achieve your objectives.
- Action plan – this is when you assign certain tasks to certain employees and draw your deadline and allocate resources.
Your vision and mission will be communicated to your stakeholders. The rest of the VMOSA is then yours. This is why it is important to be done with the VMOSA before you start your branding. In other words, your vision and mission shall help characterize your business and build your unique brand identity.
A business plan is what you will need next. While a feasibility study is conducted with the purpose of knowing whether the project is viable or not, a business plan assumes that a project is actually viable. This means that a business plan is normally conducted after the feasibility of a project is established. A business plan and a feasibility study share a lot of components. In fact, the amount of work your business plan requires highly depends on the scope of your feasibility study: the more it covers, the less work you have to do in your business plan. There is no clear-cut answer as to what components a business plan should include. In other words, business plans are not copycats. They may vary in components based on the nature of the project, but they typically include:
- A description of your company and the products or services it offers;
- The break-down of your market and competition;
- Marketing and sales plans;
- Operations tactics;
- The team you will work with; and
- Your financial projections.
If your feasibility study already includes the above components, this means that your business plan is almost done.
Branding is when you create your identity, your unique character and the message you wish to deliver to all stakeholders. That is why it is one of the most crucial aspects of any business. It is never too early to start working on your branding. It makes sense that you finish your branding before you carry-out your marketing and sales plan. As an entrepreneur, you will need to speak for your business and what it stands for to different stakeholders. Your clients are not the only ones to address. You will have to address lenders, investors and prospective employees. The best way to speak for your business is through your strong brand identity. A well-defined identity can help you improve your position and deliver a much clearer message.
It is very important for an entrepreneur to understand that branding is not just a logo design. It is a a process of building an identity. This identity should then reflect on all aspects of your business. A proper branding is one that draws distinctive features of who you are, what you do, what you stand for and visually represent these features in the best way they can be presented to the intended audience, that is with clarity and consistency.
Not everyone is lucky enough to finance their own business. As a matter of fact, to do that you have to have two things: a good cushion of money and a lot of guts! There are many cases where even when an entrepreneur can afford to finance their business, they still seek funding of some sort. Whether it is an investor or a lender, you will need a feasibility study and a a good business plan to present to them. It really helps at this point if you have your “VMOSA” ready and garnish it all with a well-designed and drafted company profile to show confidence and deliver a clear message to improve your chances.
Connections, connections and more connections
If you don’t have connections, most of the work you have done so far maybe meaningless. Sad but true. Connections are the soul of your business. They are more important to an entrepreneur than their financial resources; they maybe your access-way to investors or lenders. Connections are not just about creating a reputation for your business, they are much more than that. They get things done, close deals, teach you a lot and keep you going, and most importantly, they are free powerful marketing. Networking and socializing should start before you plan your business. Your efforts to make connections should never end. If they ever do, the chances of your survival in the market will likely be very low.
You may start by making BusinessBOX your first useful connection. We will gladly be there to help throughout the challenges of your first year into entrepreneurship. Book a free appointment to discuss your precious idea.