(Credit: HHS IDEA Lab's Summer 2015 Innovation Demo Day)
Just like there are hard and fast rules for surviving out in the wilderness, there are rules to building a business that survives and thrives. Unless you want to end up with a mountain of debt it’s important that you give your business the proper foundation with the right people working with you. If you already own a business, there are still nuggets of wisdom within that will help you maintain your momentum and ensure that your business lasts for years to come.
The first step that every business owner future, past or present had to take was to build. Build the foundation, build the ground floor, build the future. Every business starts with a concept - a founding idea or principle. Why does your business exist? What purpose does it serve and what need does it fulfill? Identifying why the business exists is the first brick that needs to be laid. Do you offer goods or services? Do you cater to a specific audience? That audience should be built around with an eye toward the future.
Next create a business plan. Identify what goods and services you’ll offer. Think about the core of your business. Where will it be built, how much will it cost, and what will be your projected revenue? Next you’ll need to find funding. It could come out of pocket or from an investor or be gained through a loan. There are a million different ways to get funding for your small business, you just need to choose one and present a compelling business plan. When someone believes in your plan enough to grant you the funding, then you can cement your ideas and turn them into reality.
Put time and effort into designing and building your work space. Depending on the kind of work you do, it will be the first thing your customers and employees see when they walk in the door. Will it be clean and businesslike? Maybe you’ll print posters with motivational quotes to make your office inspiring and inviting. Above all, make sure that the work space reflects an environment you’ll look forward to visiting.
Once you’ve laid your foundation and built the structure of your business, it’s time to recruit. What this boils down to is surrounding yourself with individuals who possess the skills and mindset they need and you need to fulfill the vision you declared for your company. Take account of what skills you bring to your company and whether you plan to take an active day-to-day role or not. Whatever you don’t or can’t do yourself will need to be accounted for when you hire. Don’t worry, delegating is a good thing. Stretching yourself too thin is an easy way to burn out. When you’ve identified the gaps in your skillset and know who and what you need, then you can create job listings. LinkedIn is a great place to network, share info about your company, and post jobs. Present a compelling image of your company and what applicants can expect, and soon you’ll be interviewing your first prospects.
When you’ve mapped a plan, received funding, created your workspace, and hired the right people for the job...there’s only one thing left to do. It’s time to put in the work. When your business is firing on all cylinders, you can finally thrive. Stick to the plan for as long as necessary and don’t forget your purpose. If you can stay focused through each step then you’ll have built a foundation that will last for years to come.