Starting up a Business: Just do it!
For many women who are interested in going into business, the biggest obstacle to getting started is simply getting started. If we get bogged down in doing market research, perfecting a business plan, doing surveys, questionnaires, and focus groups, and tinkering with the item in question, we actually don’t get sales. If we start looking for customers and selling, we do get sales.
The best way to get started in your business is to simply start selling. You aren’t in business until you’ve made a sale, so in this case, especially if you’re brand new, your main objective (at least in the beginning) is to make sales. After you make sales, you may monitor your targets, develop a new sales plan, refine your marketing message, and expand your product offerings, but your main objective at the beginning is to make sales.
You don’t need a fancy degree or certification (unless it’s necessary to work in your industry).
You don’t need a glossy brochure or business cards (although business cards are helpful).
You don’t need a yellow pages ad or a website (you just need a one-page to get started).
When you’re first starting out, you need sales:
- If you’re looking for clients, this will mean “dialing for dollars.”
- If you’re looking for customers, this will mean advertising and putting your products and services in front of the people who are interested in buying.
- If you’re looking for subscriptions, this means signing up people on a monthly or annual basis.
- If you’re looking for sponsors, this means getting a committed sponsor at whatever level you negotiate.
- If you’re looking for community-building, this means getting X number of registered users or Y number of signups.
Now is the time to narrow the field of opportunities and truly focus on who would be a good fit for your products and services. Doing some initial research helps you understand how to shape your message, but without a focus on sales for your business, it’s easy to lose track and to start meandering through a forest of research, numbers, potential growth charts, and other data. Additional data does you no good without the feedback (and income) generated from existing customers.
When we first started out in our website development business in 2004, my partner and I just dove in. We quit our jobs, and we worked full time on developing our products, networking, expanding our referral base, and creating quality products. Each of our customers spoke to other potential customers, who then viewed our portfolio and testimonials list and decided to take a chance on us.
We always focused on efficiency and creating straightforward websites that contributed to our customers’ bottom lines.
Now that we’ve been developing websites for our company for a few more years, we’ve been able to take a little break from the “startup phase” mentality and we’re now focusing on a “revision phase” of refining and improving our products to make them even more valuable to our customers. But we wouldn’t be able to be in this position without those initial customers who helped us get started.
No customers = no sales = no business
Yes Customers = yes sales = yes business
When you have your idea in place, or your pilot invention fabricated, or your service offerings laid out, it’s now time for you to expand your network of potential buyers and to make sure that you’re targeting your offerings to those with the authority to make a decision to buy from you.
It’s also a good time to start asking the “Who” questions. Who will help you reach your target sales goals? Your answers include people who actually may buy from you, but also people who know people who will buy from you. Your job, when you’re first getting started, is to expand by a factor of 10 or 100 the number of people you get to hear or view your message.