This morning, I had the pleasure of hosting my friend, Melinda Emerson, at the Urban League of the Central Carolinas for a morning of small business networking and learning. You may know Melinda as “Small Biz Lady,” the one who hosts the weekly #SmallBizChat. Here we are cheesing a bit before Melinda took the stage.
Melinda delivered a dynamite presentation filled with nuggets of wisdom to help you build a solid business foundation. She also shared a bit of her own personal entrepreneurial story. Since you couldn't be there with me, I wanted to share a bit of what Melinda shared with us. Here is an overview of the “Emerson Planning System” for entrepreneurs … the five areas you need to focus on to build a solid
Make sure you start a business that is consistent with how your life works. If you love speaking and traveling the globe, but you have three small children at home, a global speaking business might not be a good for for you while your kids are young. Also, make sure your spouse or life partner understands your business vision and buys into certain aspects of it. It may be your business, but your partner's life will be affected, so it's best to be on the same page at the outset.
Melinda says that the better your credit score, the more solid your business foundation will be. You must get your credit in order before you launch a new business. You will need credit from everything for a charge card to supplies, so you might as well pay off all those cars and department store cards so you have the best credit score possible, and access to as much cash as possible.
3. Business Concept
A solid business concept sets the stage for a solid business foundation. Make sure you are knowledgeable about the industry you will be competing in. I love how Melinda put it: “Don't start a restaurant just because you like to eat.” If you want to own a restaurant, take some restaurant-focused classes, apprentice at a restaurant, read books about restaurant. Educate yourself so you can conceptualize your idea and turn it into something tangible.
4. Marketing Plan
How will you market your business? Melinda says (and I agree) that you must embrace social media and learn how to use it to connect with your target customers. A few things you'll also want to consider include things like direct mail, event marketing, pop up shops, farmer's markets, and more. You'll also want to understand basic SEO. And to build a solid business, you will need a blog.
5. Prepare Your Business Plan
You need a plan! The business planning process will help you organize your thoughts and test some of your assumptions. It will also force you to drill your product and your market down to their lowest common denominators so you can know precisely what you are selling, and exactly who you are selling it to.
Melinda recommends that you find your local SCORE office and get some mentoring and coaching in your local area. Also, check out the Small Business Administration's Small Business Development Center in your area for assistance.
Of course there is way more than this to starting a business of your own, but these basic five basic categories will help you get things off to a solid start.
And of course, so will Melinda's book: Become Your Own Boss in Twelve Months.
Best and success,