You have made the big decision to start your own business. This may be your first venture and your first experience of being your own boss or you may have previous experience of running your own business. Whatever your background or experience you must start with an overall strategy for your business.
Some of you will have a meticulous plan that is pages and pages long and very impressive having taken 3 months to compile. For others you may be thinking “I have more important things to do than defining my company’s strategy”. Well that’s where you need to rethink. Yes you know the basics of what products/services you are going to offer but what about the long term vision? How will the supply meet demand? What will you do in the quieter times and how will you handle the busier times? Is your pricing strategy right? What suppliers will you use? What if someone doesn’t pay you? You need to set everything out from the outset. It doesn’t have to be war and peace but set some time aside to sit down and plan for the first month, first quarter, six months and then the longer term goals like where you want to be in the first year.
This is great for getting everything down on to a piece of paper as a starting point. You draw a grid with four boxes on a piece of paper and in the top left quarter you write Strengths, top right is Weaknesses, bottom left Opportunities and bottom right Threats. Then you fill in the boxes. So your business strengths may be the quality of your product or service, your pricing point compared with others and then a threat could be your competitors and their pricing strategy. Once you have all of this down on paper you will be able to define your strategy and see where the areas for improvement or consideration are.
This is key. You need to calculate the price of your product/service making sure that you are not overcharging but at the same time ensuring that you will make a profit. Too cheap and you will have to work so much harder to make a profit and too expensive and you will price yourself out of the market. Look at what your competitors charge (you can do this by calling and posing as a potential customer). How much will materials cost? What is the cost of delivering that product/service? How much is your time worth? Once you have this worked out you can start to build your pricing strategy.
Branding your product or service is really important and you need to get it right first time. You may be the brand – in that case you need to think about a logo and how your vehicle or premises is branded. You need to look at the market you are appealing to. If its high end then you should have a different style of branding than something that is stack it high, sell it cheap. The brand needs to reflect the product or service that it represents.
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