Starting a business can be challenging (especially in Nigeria). If you will stand any chance at turning your idea into a profitable business, you must get the basics right and be ruthless with execution.
If you need someone to hold your hand and walk you through the essential steps to starting, protecting, scaling and exiting your dream company, this post is for you.
This post is designed to be a blueprint that addresses all the steps from idea through business expansion and ultimately exit. It outlines 50 essential tips business owners must pay attention to from when an idea is conceived up till exit.
1). Start a Business around what You Love
This is a myth. Start a business around a profitable niche and you would love it.
2). Pay attention to the Risks
Running a business is like a roller coaster of emotions. Everything involves some amount of risk. While the payoff is can be huge, it is never guaranteed. You must understand the risks and be ready.
3). Keep Your 9-5 Job in the Start-up Phase
Your business would fail if you run out of cash. You must have sufficient cash flow to stay in business so if you have to keep your regular job to access some steady stream of funds, then so be it.
4). Stay Healthy
In the process of starting up a business it is extremely advisable to exercise and eat right. Health is wealth.
5). Get Mentorship
Learn from someone more experienced in running a business.
6). Identify Your Competition
No matter the industry you find yourself, you would have competition. To succeed you will need to carve out your share of the market.
7). Get Organized
Get organized and stay organized from day one.
8). Document Everything
Keep detailed records of EVERYTHING.
9). Be Creative
Creative is what sets you apart from your competitors. You would need it in abundance.
10). Stay Focused
Block out the noise (distractions) and stay on course.
11). Be Ready to Make Sacrifices
From business capital, to time spent on your project you would increasingly need to make sacrifices in the hope that the investment in the future would pay off.
12). Set Up a Legal Business Entity
The major business types to choose from are Sole Proprietorship and Limited Liability Company. Sole Proprietorship is also referred to as a ‘one man business’. It offers no protection to you and your personal assets. A Limited Liability Company is a preferred option. If your company is sued, only the company assets are vulnerable and not your personal assets.
13). Schedule your work days for Efficiency
If you want to get organized, schedule your day and do only tasks on your schedule.
14). Set Business Hours
This forces other to do business on your terms and respect the business.
15). Stick to your Rules
Do not break your own rules. Use business hours as an example.
16). Do One Thing at a Time
Your ability to do one thing at a time is one of the most underrated characteristics of successful businessmen. It enables you get more work done.
17). Organize Your Emails
Set up folders and move your emails there for future reference.
18). Get a Virtual Office
If you do not have a physical office getting a virtual office allows you to schedule meetings with clients. This is important for your reputation.
19). Make Contracts Mandatory for Every Job
Contracts are the lifeblood of every business. They define the product/service and how they would be delivered. Small business owners start by thinking they can do business without a contract. And then they get burnt. Contracts are there to help you set expectations.
20). Consult a Lawyer when you’re Unsure
Consulting a Lawyer on anything that overlaps with the legal world is fundamental.
21). Separate Your Personal & Business Finances
Set up a Business Entity, open a business account and make all your business transactions with them. This would help you distinguish between personal and business assets.
22). Spend on Marketing Wisely
Marketing costs are the investments that yield returns (revenue). Do you research before spending and DIY some marketing tasks to save money.
23). Get an Accountant or a bookkeeper
Just like a Lawyer, an accountant/bookkeeper is an essential addition to your team.
24). Purchase Business Insurance
This covers your equipment damage, employee accidents and in case of professionals, it covers professional liability.
25). Offer Discounted Rates for the First Few Clients
At the beginning, offering discounts to new clients is a sure way to stay ahead of competitors.
26). Consider Additional Revenue Sources
You may consider loans, grants, seed funding etc. only if it is essential to keep your business afloat.
27). Spend Money Wisely
Ask yourself, “Do I really need this? This should help guide against impulsive spending.
28). Charge What You Are Worth
Pricing products and services is one difficult aspects businesses have to face. Gradually raise your prices to suit your skills, expertise and reputation.
29). Strive to Keep Overhead Costs Low
Saving money on one service could go a long way to keeping your overhead low. Keep tabs on the recurring services you pay for and look for better deals to save you money.
30). Network, Network, Network
A professional network is key to long term success. These connections are necessary for awareness on you and your brand. Social Media is a great place to build professional connections. Attend networking events and collaborate.
31). Do not take Social Media for granted
Social media is a goldmine for businesses these days. Consistent engagement on Social media helps your brand stay relevant.
32). Get a fast, responsive and SEO friendly Website
A website is your virtual shop. Like the traditional shops, a website helps you show visitors around and helps them make a product and/or service choice. Invest in Search Engine Optimization and chat bots for better results.
33). Do occasional Giveaways to Attract New Clients
Consumers like freebies. Use it as a way to generate leads and future revenue.
34). Value of Word-of-Mouth Referrals
The best marketing is done by clients. Keep clients happy and they would be your brand ambassadors.
35). Maintain Quality Standards + a Consistent Product
This requires consistency. Every time you buy a bottle of Pepsi, you know what to expect. That is what you should strive for in your business. Quality standards and consistent product/service.
36). Invest in a Customer-Relationship Platform (CRM)
Building a Client-centric business is fundamental. A website, email and CRM platform are great ways to keep the customer close to the business.
37). Invest In Skills
Grow and expand professional knowledge.
38). Learn how to say NO
Grow your business to the point where you are not desperate for business. This is the best feeling in the world. Being able to turn down jobs.
39). Identify the Things You Can Do Yourself & The Things You Can’t
Do what you are good at and outsource the rest.
40). Be Driven By Your Clients
Your business processes must be motivated by your clients. Always take feedback. They help you grow.
41) Know when it’s time to exit
Know the end from the beginning. Your business plan should tell you when it is time to walk away (sell or go public). Selling your business gives you the opportunity to move to other brilliant ideas and enjoy financial freedom.
42) Watch out for your employees
Whether you are selling your company or going public, always look out for the interest of your employees with which you built the company.
43) Have your next project ready
Do not wait till you exit before you figure out your next project (except you sold a unicorn).
44) Don’t call it a retirement, stay active
Fund a charity, travel the world as a speaker, become an angel investor, start a VC etc.
45) Have the right management team in place
A company is as good as its management team.
46) Devise a succession plan
Groom your successors and help them succeed.
47) Make your business desirable to potential buyers
Investors would only buy a healthy business.
48) Consider alternatives
Never take the first offer. Consider alternatives before selling your business.
49) Protect your digital legacy
Protect your legacy. Store your digital assets.
50) Follow your instincts
Your instincts have brought you thus far. Follow them.
YOUR NEXT STEPS
Got any questions about starting, protecting, scaling and exiting your dream company?
Email us at email@example.com
If you are interested in setting up a viable, legally sound and profitable business or taking your business to the next level, contact us through our website or email us at affordablelaw.ng/contact
In the meantime, if you would like to learn more about how to set up, fund, run or exit your business, check out our business blog