1. The best time to start a business is not based on the calendar, but on how well you’ve prepared.
2. Research and planning will help lead to a successful business start-up.
3. Global Credit Union can provide business account and support services that help you focus on your business success.
They say that timing is everything, and the first few months can ‘make or break’ a new business. But about one in five businesses fail in their first year. Why is that? And how can you make sure your new business is one that succeeds?
Timing a successful business launch depends on more than just the calendar. Most of your decisions about the best time to start a business should be based on whether you’re actually prepared.
Are you ready to start a business?
Here’s how you’ll know if you’re ready to jump in.
1. You’ve done your research
While a great idea lies at the heart of a successful business, it takes a lot of hard work to bring that idea to market. This means you’ve done everything from identifying your target audience and understanding exactly how your product or service will meet their needs to knowing how you can make a profit doing so. Required research also filters down to details like understanding what type of business license you’ll need, knowing how you’ll file taxes and pay employees, and having a solid marketing plan. For example, most business owners today know they need a website—but will you also know how to attract visitors to your site?
Some of the most common reasons new businesses fail include lack of staff, product or service failure, and inadequate marketing. Make sure you’ve done your research, so you know how to address these and other important details before you start your business.
2. You’ve tested your product or service
First impressions matter, especially for a new business. A bad online review can damage your new venture before you even get it off the ground. If you’re selling a product, make sure it’s been thoroughly tested before you spend the money advertising it. If you’re shipping it, test the packaging to make sure it arrives undamaged. If you’re selling a service, consider trying it out first with an understanding group of customers. For example, restaurants often open with a soft launch that gives them a chance to test menu items and fine tune staff training before they throw their doors wide open.
3. You have the resources you need
Many new businesses need financing. There are a variety of secured and unsecured loans, lines of credit, and credit cards that can be used to finance your start-up cash needs.
But don’t forget about the non-financial support you’ll need in terms of time, energy, motivation to succeed, and help from the important people in your life. Sometimes people try to launch their business while they’re still working their day job, only to find that they can’t do both. If you decide to start a business while keeping your regular job—and there are some good reasons to do so—just make sure you have the support and resources in place to help both you and your new business succeed.
4. You’ve considered time of year
If your business is seasonal—you’ll provide landscaping services, for example—make sure you start in time to have contracts on the books during the period most people need lawn care. For instance, you may need to launch your website and begin advertising in February if you want to have jobs lined up for May. If your new business offers accounting services, make sure you’re set up well in advance of the busy tax season. If you start a new bakery, make sure you’re ready for holiday pie orders.
The key here is to look ahead and make sure you’ve smoothed out all the start-up kinks before your new customers count on you.
5. You have a business plan
A good business plan is a roadmap to success. And if you’re trying to secure a loan or line of credit for your business, your lender will most likely need it. This critical business planning process takes you through the steps of identifying your business’s strengths and weaknesses, expected expenses and other things you’ll need to have in place for your company to succeed.
While there are no specific rules in terms of what should be included, a solid business plan usually contains things like a clear company and product or service description, market analysis, organizational structure, marketing strategies, and forecasted income and expenses. You may even want to develop a SWOT analysis (a list of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) or a FAB matrix (identifying features, advantages, and benefits) to help you pinpoint your company’s value proposition—that is, what you’re selling and why people will want it.
Not sure how to start writing a business plan? The U.S. Small Business Administration can help.
There’s rarely a perfect time to start a business, but there are things you can do to make it the best time for you. Certainly, the calendar matters, but the other things you do are even more important. New businesses require a lot of time and energy; preparation is key to success. When you’ve done your research, tested your product or service, prepared a thoughtful business plan, and surrounded yourself with people and organizations that can give you the support you need, you will have created your own best time to start a business.