At the close of 2017, countless people will take a look back at the year behind them and begin making resolutions for the year ahead. For some, that means leaving their old job behind and going into business for themselves, and for others it means starting a gig on the side. For others, still, it means taking the edge off of retirement or finally turning that passion project into something “more.”
The turn of the year is a symbolic turning-of-the-page — a fresh start. So to make sure you’re starting it off right, here are X pointers for starting a business in 2018.
Make Sure There’s a Need for Your Product
You’ve got a great idea, it’s completely unique, and you’ve got all of the resources to make it work — but will anybody want it? One of the top reasons that small businesses fail is that there’s simply no market need for the product or service.
- Do your market research. This includes marketplace projections, identifying existing needs, and beta testing your product.
- Turn to your clients. If you have any existing clientele, even a small amount, they can really help open your eyes — as long as they’re honest.
- Ask an expert. Many entrepreneurs have mentors, and they listen very carefully to what these mentors says. Seek expert advice pertinent to your industry.
Failure to determine a need will leave you with plenty of people telling you that your business is a great idea, but unfortunately none of them will ever utilize it.
Develop a Business Plan
After determining whether or not there’s actually a market for your product or service, spend time developing a business plan and putting on paper. This document represents everywhere you want your business to go, as well as how you will get there.
Don’t be discouraged if you’re not great at writing or don’t consider yourself a detail-oriented-documentarian. There are plenty of resources out there that can help you develop your own business plan every step of the way. Check out this guide hosted by Entrepreneur.
A business can’t operate without any money, obviously, so you’ll need to start figuring out where yours is going to come from. Most of the time that will come in the form of a small business loan or something similar, but that’s not always the case. It’s harder to secure funding if you currently have bad credit — nevertheless, Nicolas Cesare, writing for Fiscal Tiger, mentions that there are these alternatives means for getting a small business loan with bad credit:
- Angel Investors — Individuals who really care about what you’re doing and can talk to you face-to-face, one-on-one about your vision. Let your personality and your “why” shine.
- Friends and Family — Plenty of businesses have started due to the support of friends and family. They’re the ones that know you the best, and if they’re willing to invest, you know that they trust you and your idea not to tank, at the very least.
- Crowdfunding — Kickstarter and GoFundMe are two crowdfunding platforms that allow you to receive funding in small chunks from people who want your product or services. With enough grassroots support, you can be very successful here.
- Grants for Small Businesses — Some people qualify for small business grants. Minorities, women, and the LGBTQ community can all take advantage of grants pertinent to them specifically.
Invest in Cybersecurity
Incidents involving hacking and cyber attacks around the world have seen a sharp increase in the last couple of years. Businesses thinking themselves either immune or too small of a fish to fry are in for a rude awakening, because cyber criminals are finding them the perfect target.
When it comes to protecting yourself and your own data, stay on the lookout for phishing attacks and ransomware. Make backups often and keep your eyes peeled for anything suspicious.
On the other hand, when it comes to keeping customer data safe in the digital world, there are a lot of things you can do, but eSignLive reminds that certain industries have to adhere to cloud security standards, including SOC 2, HIPAA, PCI DSS, and FedRamp.
Overall, it’s probably not a bad idea to invest in cybersecurity insurance either. It’s not a matter of preventing attacks anymore, especially as we move into 2018; it’s a matter of preparing your best to overcome them and minimizing damage when they do happen. This is the price of business our technological world.
Practice Discipline and Good Habits
New age connectivity means that we can literally work while we’re flying around the world — however, it’s important to remember that while it’s possible to work from anywhere, anytime, all the time, that doesn’t mean it’s healthy.
“You can’t do a good job if your job is all you do,” writes Katie Thurmes, the Co-founder of
Artifact Uprising. She reminds that you need to get out and live a balanced life, so that you don’t get burnt out on your work as well.
Right in line with that is to make sure that you’re not a slave to bad habits, and that you’ve adopted all the right ones. The Earnest Blog suggests following these five habits of financially successful people:
- Don’t be cynical — Other people will begin to ignore and/or avoid you. Instead be chipper, and build strong networks.
- Adopt SMART Goals — Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals help you create a controlled experiment within a time-frame with high likelihood of success.
- Set a budget, always review it — Being savvy with your own money will make you savvier with your business budget. Never be complacent either — always be reviewing and tweaking your spending as you see fit.
- Invest intelligently — Understand that there are consequences to your actions, long-term as well as short-term. Practice discipline and intelligence here.
- Don’t micro-manage — at least not too much. Hiring others (or investing in automation) to tackle the fine details will save you both time and mental fatigue. Focus on the big picture, and delegate as needed.
Be Prepared to Stay Agile and Adaptive
Technology has rendered our world to be always in flux, always changing, always churning, and one new disruptive technology supplants another seemingly every year. As these technologies change our day-to-day lives, they will also change day-to-day business practices. Anybody who’s starting up a business in the coming year should be aware that they will be expected to change as well. Imagine a business that somebody started in 2011 that didn’t pick up Twitter or Instagram. They likely would no longer be in business.
Keep these pointers in mind as you venture forth into the new year, and stay on your toes. With more disruptive technology hitting the scene every day and a rise in cybercrime all around the world, it’s more important than ever to always be ready to pivot and change. Other than that, it’s all about developing that plan, achieving and maintaining funding, and relying on your own unwavering standards to keep the ship afloat. Stick to those rules, and you’ll enjoy success in 2018 and beyond.