Planning your business

Five things to do before you plan a new business

Technical ability, financial savvy, and a nose for marketing are all important for starting a new business – but don’t forget the fundamentals. These five activities will really set you up for success.

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Increase your chance of success

Many business skills – such as project management, knowing your way around a spreadsheet, or having the ‘gift of the gab’ to attract sales and investors – can be learned over time and perfected with practise.

What can’t be learned is a genuine passion for what you do and the industry you’re in. To increase your chance of success, look into these five areas before you hit the ‘go’ button on your business.

1. Understand your market

Is your market entering a growth phase or has it stalled? Learn as much as you can about the characteristics of your industry such as customer demand, local and international trends, and technological developments. 

If you have 30 years’ experience under your belt, chances are you already have your finger on the pulse. If you don’t, then make it a priority to find out.

2. Understand your customer

Successful businesses have a specific focus on their customers and clients, and are geared to supply them with what they want. This involves consistently looking for ways to solve their customer’s problems and improve their products to match requirements.

The best way to get to know your customer is to talk to them directly. It can be as simple (and cheap) as striking up a conversation.

3. Understand the competition

As soon as you start your business, competitors are likely to react to offset the impact you’ll have on their sales. You need to know who they are, what their prices are, what they’re good at, and what they’re bad at so you can position your business to be different. 

By understanding your market, your customers, and the competition inside and out, you can identify new opportunities for growth, keep up to date with where your industry is heading, and spot areas where you might need to pivot or change.

4. Lead by example

Successful businesses with a strong team culture are usually those where the owner or manager leads by example. The owner knows everyone by name, and their presence is obvious. They show a strong commitment, setting the standard where they work. 

In fact, much of what makes a small business successful is the personality and qualities of the owner. When equity investors look at a business to invest seed capital, they spend the same if not more time on investigating the qualities of the owner.

Consider your personal attributes and how these might affect your leadership style and the way you run your business. Think about what behaviours and habits you will commit to, to set your business up for success.

How to improve your business leadership

Learn how to lead with a growth mindset, motivate your team, use the Skill/Will Matrix, coach and motivate your staff, and how to prioritise and protect your time.

5. Have a unique product or service offering

Most successful businesses have unique products or services, such as their own designs, products, systems, or some other aspect that sets them apart. This uniqueness is an important source of competitive advantage and one which many companies work hard to sustain – adapting and innovating their products or services as their competition catches up on them. Your market research will be a valuable tool for determining whether there’s a demand for your product or service.

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