So, you’ve come up with a great business idea and you’re ready to take your industry by storm. What now? We have some answers that can help you take your idea and make it a success, starting with these four steps.

1. Sharpen the concepts

When starting a business – as a record 3.4 million folks did in 2020 – you’ll need to think about the product you want to provide and the market you want to target. Do you have competitors in this market already? If so, how will your business be unique? Do you provide a different service? Or maybe you offer the same service, but faster or cheaper, or both? Having a sense of what sets your venture apart will help you leverage your strengths for growth.

Also, consider your customer. Who is going to buy what you’re selling? Are there enough of these people to sustain your business over time? How are you going to communicate to them the benefits of your product or service in comparison to their other options? An incredible 42 percent of new businesses fail simply because of lack of demand, so doing the research is vital.

Finally, come up with a punchy, memorable name for your business that will take it to the top of your industry. Don’t skimp on branding legwork; making informed choices in this regard could increase your brand recognition by 80 percent and your revenue by 23 percent!

2. Create a business plan

Once your concepts are sharpened, you’ll need to get down to the details in a business plan you can present to lenders, potential investors, and potential clients. This is where you want to pull together market research, predictions about your industry, and details of your revenue model.

A business plan gives you a map of where your company is headed, the likely obstacles it will face, and the support it will need to survive. The Small Business Administration has a business plan guide that can help, along with sample business plans to get you started.

3. Crunch the numbers

A crucial point in planning any new enterprise is when you examine the finances. Starting any business involves time and energy, and the average business can take up to three years to turn a profit. Unless you have considerable means, you’re probably going to need external capital to help sustain your business — and yourself — over that time. If you must borrow money, how much is enough? If you’re going to devote all your time to the new business, can you survive on savings until it turns a profit, or will you need to take your own living expenses into account when you apply for a loan?

You’ll want to do a break-even analysis to figure out how much revenue your new business will have to generate to cover costs, and from there, estimate the timeframe in which your income will exceed expenditures.

4. Seek financial assistance

There are several ways to access the capital your business will probably need. You can apply for business grants, which don’t need to be paid back but are highly competitive and usually available only to small subsets of businesses. You can get money from investors, but often that money comes with conditions you will have to observe in the day-to-day operation of the company. Or you can seek to secure a business loan from a bank you trust.

Privately-held community banks like FirstBank may be a good option as they’re willing to consider loan eligibility outside of strict, one-size-fits-all lending guidelines. Local banks also know local markets and may be better able to judge the viability of a business proposal for their area.

Read our tips on putting your best foot forward when applying for a loan, and drop by your local FirstBank branch to learn more. Best of luck to you in your new business adventure!


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