By Tamera Brown
Nevadans start several thousand new businesses each year. If you’d like to be one of them, NCET and the Reno Gazette-Journal are pleased to introduce a new monthly column designed to help you start your business. Each month, our local business experts will walk you through the steps you’ll need to take to launch your business.
The first step to starting a business is determining if business ownership is right for you. There are many signs you can look for to determine if owning a business is right for you. If you truly believe in your idea, have an appetite for learning, and are ready to face failure, you may be ready to take on business ownership. However, if you have a low appetite for risk, find it difficult to market your idea, and need profit quickly, business ownership may not be for you. An assessment, such as the one that can be found here, is the best way to figure out if business ownership is right for you in the long term.
Now that we have determined if you are ready for business ownership or not, it’s time to start planning your business with purpose. Over the last twelve months, we’ve walked you through the steps needed to create a business plan. (You can find those columns here.)
To recap the business planning process, the first – and most important – question to ask yourself is: “What problem does my business solve?”. It’s important to clearly understand the problem or source of pain that your product or service solves for customers. The more you are able to empathize with your customers and understand their needs, the more successful your business will be. You should know what is unique about your solution and how to best communicate it to your potential customers.
Perhaps the most important aspect of business planning with purpose is to research before investing money into your idea. Your new idea might have you excited enough to finance it and get things going, but it is important to do research into three critical areas before investing.
- Potential customers. Customer research should focus on understanding basic demographics to develop an effective marketing plan, being able to quantify your potential customers to begin estimating sales and defining the unique problems that your product or service is solving for them. Creating a biography of your “ideal” customer (age, gender, interests, buying habits etc.) can help you fine-tune your marketing efforts and achieve a better understanding of how to best reach your customer base.
- Competition. Competitor research should focus on who your competitors are, where they are, what they do, and how they do it differently. Knowing how to differentiate your business from competitors in your region is crucial to creating a successful business.
- Industry. Industry research should focus on recent trends in the industry which may help you better compete against your competitors as well as find new customers interested in your product or service. It is also important to consider how COVID-19 has changed how your potential customers’ behavior, how they shop, what problems they may be experiencing, and how it has altered the industry. All of this research will help you develop a unique value proposition. A value proposition is simply a statement that summarizes why a customer would choose your product or service.
The last step in purposeful business planning is developing a “business roadmap”. A business roadmap is a planning process that defines a goalor desired outcome and includes the major steps or milestones needed to reach it. Reaching out to a Nevada Small Business Development Center advisor is a great way to get your roadmap completed with the help of an expert who can identify bumps in the road that you may not foresee. The Nevada SBDC provides no-cost, confidential small business counseling. To be paired up with a small business advisor that fits your needs, fill out the new client assessment today at https://nsbdc.ecenterdirect.com/signup.
If you’re looking for help with the business planning process, below are some great resources offered in Northern Nevada:
- Nevada Small Business Development Center – Provides free and confidential one-on-one consulting in areas such as business planning, marketing, finance, research, and so much more. The NSBDC also offers a wide range of workshops and courses. https://nevadasbdc.org/
- SCORE – Provide free and confidential business counseling from active and retired businessmen and women. SCORE also offers educational workshops. https://www.score.org/
- Entrepreneurs Assembly – Entrepreneurs Assembly (EA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to mentoring and advising entrepreneurs in creating and growing their businesses. https://ea-global.org/
- State of Nevada’s Department of Business and Industry – Offers a wide range of programs and initiatives to address the needs of businesses and consumers. http://business.nv.gov/
In next month’s column, we’ll help you pick a name for your business and register your new name, secure an appropriate website domain / URL, and more. See you next month!
Tamera Brown, a Business Advisor for the Nevada SBDC, helps aspiring and current small business owners overcome the challenges of operating a business during the COVID-19 pandemic.
NCET is a member-supported nonprofit organization that helps people explore business and technology. www.NCET.org