My greatest passions are writing about and practising Business and Marketing techniques that are both excellent and successful. I have hundreds of articles on file that I have written over almost four decades and I am reviewing them for my own benefit to assess how much and how little, has changed over the years. New technology has made a huge impact on how practices and procedures are carried out and peoples’ lifestyles and expectations have changed significantly, over the 40 years. However, the principles and philosophy of what is generally termed ‘Good Business and Marketing Practice’, has changed little.
If you are thinking of starting a business, you need to check through What? Why? Who? Where? When? How?
What will you offer and Why? Who will be your customers and Where will they be located? When will it begin and How will it all Happen?
The following notes contain the bullet points only. Each heading is a whole issue all of its own that has to be addressed and successfully overcome. Working through them to achieve your ultimate objective will be exciting, stressful, satisfying and hopefully profitable.
Nobody should set up in business to sell a product until they have convinced themselves and all around them that there is a market for it. The product or service is What you are going to supply.
A first response to this is usually along the lines of, “Because there was a gap in the market and I foresaw a great opportunity to do something about it”.
That’s all fine and dandy for hobbyists. I would suggest that the real reason Why most entrepreneurs set up in business is usually to make money for themselves. I always think it is nice that in doing this we also make people (usually customers) happy or better still, delighted to have dealt with us.
Who will be your customers for this great product? Will they be from the general public, or from specialised businesses? Exactly Who will buy it? A good deal of ‘In Depth Market Research’ will need to be properly carried out to find the answer to this question. This is possibly the most important question to answer. Do not go ahead with anything else until you have done this and established to the very best of your ability Who will buy your product or service.
This is a double-edged question. Where to work from and Where to sell to?
Will you need a shop, office, or just work from home and which area of your locality will you need to be based?
Where will your target market be located? Will you service enquiries and deal with customers locally, nationally, or internationally? It may be that you want to tread with caution at first and leave international work until you are established.
Getting the launch date right will almost certainly be crucial to the initial success of your venture. If there is anything seasonal about the product or service, set your strategy accordingly and always aim for some days, weeks or months before the optimum launch date. Depending on how many imponderables have to be overcome, this may need to be extended further. If there will be periods of exceptional demand followed by long stretches of virtual inactivity, When to open for business will need to be a few weeks early, rather than a few weeks late, of the high season.
It is common sense of course but there are always many instances when things go wrong and the new venture can fail because there are no funds available to trade out of a quiet period.
Another two-edged sword. How will it happen and how will the venture succeed?
It has more chance of happening if you take a personal interest and are in control of everything up to and beyond the launch date. It is more likely to succeed if you retain a personal interest and always put your customers first.
Your personal involvement is How it will all work.
Originally written as Chapter 1 of 40 Ways 2 Win In Business published in 2013.
John Lightfoot MBE, Solar Solve Chairman