By Matthew Kwan
Principal Consultant, Adams Company Limited http://www.adamshk.com/
© Copyright. April 10, 2009
Starting up a business is not difficult and failing it is more than easy. What are the most important steps entrepreneurs should take in order to stay above the water is the most critical question one should ask well before actually forming a company. I have summarized the our own experience as well as gathering some good practices that are available to ensure the chance of success for entrepreneurs as described below:
- Business Ideas
- Sales & Marketing Planning
- Cash Flow Calculation
- Business Registration & etc…
- Website Building
- Promotion & Advertising
- Execution & Continuously Review
1. Business Ideas
Whenever you think of any business idea, you need to start from the TAM (Total Available Market). Without knowing how big the demand of your products or service is, it is impossible to estimate how well you will achieve your sales goals in time. Even knowing your TAM, you should ask also how well is your potential competitors are doing in such market as they are a very good reference for you to evaluation the potential growth of this business in future.
2. Sales & Marketing Planning
I have written before about the 5C’s Business Planning idea and I would like to recap the idea here as it is too important to do this analysis to ensure you are not too far off from reality. Moreover, I think it is a very simple and effective way to plan & measure your sales & marketing effort. I have used in many customer cases and they work extremely well for them to position and re-position the overall business plan and idea. So, what are the 5C’s, they are Customers, Competitors, Complementors, Channels and Costs. Our of the 5C’s, I personally think Complementors is the most important of all. For details, please refer to The 5C’s of Business Planning in Adams’ Business Advisory Blog.
3. Cash Flow Calculation
Cash Flow is Everything! (as written in Adams’ Business Advisory Blog) If you cannot manage well you cash flow, you are dim to fail in time. A lot of companies fail not because of not having enough sales but not enough of cash flow. The most important question to ask is when can you breakeven your running expenses each month. If you cannot maintain a stable cash flow, your feeling will just like riding a roller coaster! The other important question to ask is how much initial capital you need to have to sustain throughout the period before breakeven. Obviously, the earlier you can breakeven, the less capital you need. Oppositely, if it takes too long for you to breakeven, you will very soon loose your momentum and your energy level and sometimes faith in yourself or your partners!
4. Business Registration & etc…
The process of registering a company in different countries are different but typically it is a lot easier to work with company secretary companies or certified public accountants and sometimes business centre companies to get these processes done with reasonable costs as there are too many nitty-gritty’s that you need to pay attention at for just once when you form a company. Personally, I think it is not justified at all to spend time to learn it through but not helpful for your business
5. Website Building
It is an internet age, if you are not building a website, you will never survive a chance to win in this extremely competitive world. In terms of building a business effective website, I recommended that there is a 4C strategy. (Please refer to Websites are so important to make e-Marketing campaigns successful!) The 4C’s are Customer Oriented, Contextual Contents, Call to Actions and Community. Since Converting Clicks to Sales Leads is the most important consideration, you really need to try every effort to make sure whoever visiting your site would take action to call you, email you, fill in a form or forward your information to friends. These would ensure you have a very good chance to succeed.
6. Promotion and Advertising
In order to be cost-effective, you don’t have choice but use e-Marketing as it is proven to be one of the highest ROI (Return On Investment) ways in promoting your company products and services. There are many ways to promote your products and services using e-Marketing and largely they may involve sending emails, doing search engine optimization or marketing, advertising online with banner ads or registering to directories…etc. However, if you don’t have any idea to start, you can use my proposed 6 Simple Steps to Start e-Marketing with a Success. More importantly you need to Maximize your dollars on e-Marketing in order to gain the best possible ROI.
7. Execution & Continuously Review
Doing plans and generate business ideas is very easy as it is comparatively less effort than execution. When you actually execute your plans you will soon find them difficult to realize as some of the ideas or methods would never work in the real world. With limited time, money and resources, you often end up dumping the whole idea all together. Therefore it is extremely important to do reality checks and review what is really happening with all your effort in executing your plans in a quantitative measure. I found many clients have a very ambitious start with lot of energy and so passionate about their dream in success of your business, however they fail to review the progress constantly and sidetracked by many things and challenge. So they were not able to re-focus and re-prioritize their effort early enough to regain the momentum to move forward.
Finally, I wish all the best to all entrepreneurs who have wonderful dream of success may achieve great result with their business plan and share with us the joy of Entrepreneurship!