The early stages of building a business are exhilarating, as you see your ideas coming to life. However, it can be just as overwhelming with the many moving pieces involved in starting a new business. From market research to the launch itself, seasoned entrepreneurs know that it takes time to start a business and pave its way to success.
Of course, there are a number of factors that influence the timeline of a new business. Your experience, your network, and your concept all play a part in how long it takes to see your ideas actualized. In the right situation, it could be done in 24 hours! However, without a solid foundation, a few weeks (or even a few months) is a more realistic estimate.
Simply put, initial success is less about timing and more about who and what you know. If you know what you’re doing, you can make short work of the to-do list ahead of you. But if there’s a learning curve involved, you’ll need to carve out time for research, networking, and strategy.
If your creative juices have been flowing and you’re ready to fast-track your business for success, follow these best practices to maximize your timeline.
Start with your brand look and feel.
There are a lot of elements that can fall into place later in the process, but your brand is not one of them! Having a clean, professional, and polished look out of the gate is the first thing a potential client will notice when considering a new business. They’re looking out for your aesthetic, your voice, your messaging, and how you can solve their problems. First impressions are everything, so your brand needs to be squared away before entering the market.
Much of this comes from good old-fashioned research. Spend time researching your target audience, exploring your niche offerings, and clarifying the brand value that sets you apart from competitors. Clients need to know they are a fit, and your brand messaging should communicate accordingly.
Focus on proof-of-concept ASAP.
Beyond an attractive brand aesthetic, your prospective clients are also looking to confirm that your product or services are as great as they seem. You can spin any message you want, but they want to hear from real third-party customers so start gathering testimonials right away.
Earning social proof in the early stage of your business may involve giving away your product or service at a lower cost to begin collecting reviews and building your portfolio. If you do this, make sure your contract states that they are receiving a free or discounted service in exchange for a review. Or you may consider charging a full fee and providing a rebate once the testimonial is provided. Just be sure your contract is crystal clear to ensure both parties deliver!
Prioritize education and growth tools.
Running an event business involves creativity and innovation, but it also requires strong business skills. If you have no experience with entrepreneurship, a mentor can help guide you in the right direction and prevent you from making costly errors.
Or, if you’re the self-guided type, seek out educational opportunities like premade templates, online courses, workshops, podcasts, and conferences for creative entrepreneurs. Continued education is vital for the growth of your brand, as well as your role as a business owner!
Get clear on your goals.
When you’re just starting a business, you may be focused on the moment at hand with the future seemingly far away. However, looking ahead and setting concrete goals will ensure your business decisions are smart and strategic. Understanding your three-year, five-year, and ten-year goals helps you make progress year by year, quarter by quarter.
Your goals will also motivate you to track your business data. From website analytics to revenue benchmarks, your numbers demonstrate the progress you’ve made and identify the areas that are working in your business (as well as those that aren’t). With these insights, you’ll be more agile and capable of making changes quickly and effectively to advance your business growth.
Evaluate your website.
Websites are a make-it-or-break-it factor when launching a new business, so be sure to cross all the T’s and dot all the I’s before going live. Your site should have a clear message throughout, along with elements that establish an emotional connection. Also, be sure to include contact information, location (if pertinent), testimonials, and a look at your products or services.
Use a website funnel to guide your visitors through the process of booking your services or making a purchase. Include bold calls-to-action throughout, link to your social media pages, and direct users to relevant blog posts. The idea is to make it as simple as possible to do business with you, and a powerful converting website can make it a seamless process.
Work on expanding your network.
Networking is the obvious business-building hack, but it’s often the most daunting for new entrepreneurs. The best thing you can do is simply get out there and start connecting! A few easy conversations include complimenting people, asking about a day in their life, or mentioning something you saw on their Instagram. If you’re feeling bold, wear a statement piece that breaks the ice when people come up to you!
Through your network, you can gain invaluable referrals and partnership opportunities so don’t leave this step for later. You can start building connections with industry peers no matter where you stand in your business, so grab those business cards and head out the door.
As you embark on this exciting adventure, be mindful about checking your ego at the door. It’s great to feel proud about who you are and what you have to offer, but those who are teachable and willing to engage with others are far more likely to succeed (and much faster!). Being a friendly and helpful professional will go much further than giving into competitive pressure.
You have quite the journey ahead of you! Stay focused, present, be friendly, and you’ll find your way to success before you know it.