Before I launched my business, Be A Light Collective, I had so many doubts. There were constant questions in my head about what I was doing, where my next step was, and if I would ever have it all ‘figured out’ (PS: you won’t, and that’s okay). But something I learned in my process is the value of listening to your heart.
If there’s a vision in your head about launching your business—don’t ignore that! You have to embrace that pounding in your head, that excitement in your chest and go forward in the direction of your dreams. BUT before you jump fully in, you have to create an initial business plan and foundation from where you’re starting.
You can’t just jump without being prepared.
Before launching your business, think about your ideas, your vision, and the steps you’ll take to get there. This is the groundwork and it’s necessary. But before you actually start selling products/services or sharing about what you do, here is a list of questions to ask yourself:
1. What is my ‘why’?
Why am I starting this company in the first place? Probably (hopefully) the easiest question, but it’s worth asking. Not only will this answer potentially morph into a business mantra, but it’s so valuable for shaping the direction of what you do and care about. You’ll also want to think about what sets you apart from the competition and how your ‘why’ can be your unique difference.
2. Who is my target audience?
Your target audience is who you’re advertising to. As you create your unique brand, you’ll want to think about who you want to work with, sell to, and engage. These questions (and focusing on the answers) will make sure your business is relevant and applicable. It also helps to sharpen your marketing focus, too.
3. What problem(s) will my business solve?
Your business should solve a customer problem or add value in some way. Once you know your target audience (see above) you can better answer these questions and better help the people you want to work with the most. Identifying problems provides a meaningful groundwork for your company to build on. This will also develop relationships and trust along the way, too.
4. What, exactly, are my products and services?
Okay, hopefully you’ve thought about this way before launch. But don’t worry, there’s always room to add or change. As you strengthen your following and audience, your ideas may shift (and this is okay!). Consistently ask yourself, though: What am I selling? Is it physical or digital? How will I advertise? What prices should I charge? And what other costs might I incur (like shipping, for example)?
5. What’s the map of my business growth?
You won’t necessarily know the trajectory of your company at first, but it’s valuable to think in that direction long before it happens so that you’re prepared. Think about how big or small you want your business to be, whether you want to hire people underneath you, and what potential employees will do. Also, do you need an LLC? Will you become an official corporation? These are all good things to think about early on.
6. What/who’s my competition?
When you’re launching your business, you need to consider who you’re up against. Ask yourself what other companies may be doing similar or different and where you lie? It’s not about making comparisons, per se, but about seeing where you rank, what you excel in, and how you can improve.
7. What are my finances?
You have to think about money. It’s the worst part, but perhaps the most necessary. Without a proper foundation to stand on, and without a budget set up far in advance, you run the risk for failing in your business venture before it even starts! You have to have a grasp of what things will cost, especially in the initial stages.
Ask yourself what starting costs you have: registration and license fees, costs for advertising and branding, investments, fees, taxes, websites/development, etc. Then consider the basic costs of operating and sustaining, too.
8. How will I advertise and showcase my services/products?
Before launch, think about how, exactly, you’ll advertise your products/services and what that will look like (as well as what it will cost). Will you work with other companies for collaborations or partnerships? Will you fundraise or run a campaign? Will you share on social media? And how will you continue to grow over time?
9. And again, why?
Once you’ve answered all of these questions, circle back to the first: why? Is it still worth it to you? Are you still excited? Do you still feel like this is valuable and that launching your business is absolutely necessary?
If the answer is yes, then do it.
Featured Image Credit: Logan Armstrong