By Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center
Starting a business and keeping it going requires a leap of faith. As the familiar adage implies, any business venture involves a bit of risk.
Even if you are confident in your idea and yourself – and what entrepreneur isn’t? – the best way to increase your odds is planning.
Whether you call it business planning or strategic planning, the goal is the same: To identify where you want to go and how to get there.
Failing to plan can lead to costly wrong turns and missed opportunities. As you plan, here are recommendations to keep in mind:
Focus on the customer. Business planning should always start with data and research, including customer insight, market intelligence, and industry trends.
Without customers, you cannot have a business. As a business owner, you have to know your customers – who they are, where they are, and what you need to do to attract and retain them.
Think about how you create value for your customers, what need or problem your product/service fills, and how you will distinguish yourself from the competition.
Know your numbers. A common mistake is underestimating costs while overprojecting sales. Make sure to budget for all your ideas and develop realistic financial projections.
Be cautious. Everything will cost more and take longer than you imagine. Secure funding before you sign contracts or lease agreements, pay licenses and fees, or otherwise obligate yourself. Don’t get in too big a hurry. Growing too fast and taking on too much can put you out of business just as quickly as not growing at all.
Utilize resources like the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center. A consultant from your local ASBTDC can help you develop sound plans for every aspect of your venture, whether a startup or expansion. ASBTDC can also provide personalized, tailored market research and analysis based on your unique needs.
Want to wing it? That’s your (risky) business.
Want a plan? One that’s realistic, data-driven, and thorough, yet flexible and as bold as you are? ASBTDC is here to help.