Entrepreneur Action #5 Write a BASIC Business Plan
I cannot emphasize the word BASIC enough!
It’s ironic, because at the end of my last year in university, we won a business plan writing competition for aspiring entrepreneurs. It was sponsored by HSBC and our team represented the Philippines in a regional competition.
The business plan was 100 pages long, and took months to write. For contest purposes, it was great! We won a cash prize, a trip to Hong Kong, a summer scholarship to UC Berkeley, and another scholarship at AIM. But for startup entrepreneurs, we won’t be judged by 50% creativity, 30% .
But to be honest, you only need a super detailed plan if you are joining those types of contests or presenting to a panel of investors.
Keep It Simple
In the case of Bonjour Baby, we just had lunch together and then brainstormed ideas over dessert. We were considering either a baby brand or a travel brand, and then we realized there were more gaps in the market (problems to solve) in the category.
Afterwards, we just sent each other photos of products we would want to bring in or brands that we admired. Then we did some sample calculations and a general marketing plan (the 4P’s – product, price, place and promotions), and hit the ground running.
Test, Test, Test!
As a startup entrepreneur, I would always prefer more time be spent on sampling and testing than writing down long-winded pages on paper, just to make it look thicker or more impressive. Research is good, but there are some things that can’t be studied from a laptop screen. Taking action is so much more important!
Don’t overanalyse, overthink, and procrastinate. You won’t grow much if you’re always staring blankly at the computer or reading your nth advice article or blog. Use your business plan as your guide, but don’t be afraid to tweak and tweak anything along the way.
Entrepreneur Action #6 Identify Your Winning Team
You might think you’re a one-woman (or one-man) show heading into your small business, and though it might be true that you will be doing majority of the work, any entrepreneur can benefit greatly in other areas of business that can be delegated or outsourced. You can get yourself a great partner too!
These tasks usually are either monotonous or time-consuming. Honestly, you can channel your time and energy into things that only YOU can do and look for others to help you out.
In every business’ infancy stage there are so many things need to be done at the same time. Don’t fall into the “barat” (cheapskate) trap! Spending months learning to design your marketing collaterals isn’t worth it, especially if you can have someone who is much more experienced and can do it faster available.
On the flipside though, don’t be too optimistic and hire too many people from the get go. Not only will it be a struggle managing so many personalities, but you might not even have the scale or profitability yet to sustain a high fixed overhead cost.
Human Resource Headaches
Also, hiring people isn’t easy. Everyone who dreams of being an entrepreneur says they want to be their own boss. The more personalities to manage, the more drama (housewives who’ve had that problems with their yayas, give me a holler in the comments!) We’ve had so many close calls, almost hiring someone out of desperation, only to find out of an applicant shady work history. Sometimes, if an applicant seems to good to be true, it’s often a red flag.
To keep your small business operations lean and flexible, try outsourcing design, copywriting or technical work online at fiverr.com or upwork.com. It’s a global market of talents that are waiting for you to be their boss! You can test one or two freelancers and gauge if they’re a good fit with your brand and your working style, paying on a per-need basis. It will cost you for sure, but not as much as investing in a full-time employee.
Entrepreneur Action #7 Show Up on The Internet
Showing up on the Internet means having an online presence, no matter how small at the beginning. Depending on your small business, it can be as simple as getting listed on Google Maps. Right now, there may be people looking for the very product or service you are offering! Theyhave to be able to find you or call you.
Think about your business model, your audience and your product. You don’t need to be on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram. Choose what platform would be most ideal to reach out and get your business out there.
Don’t get discouraged when you’re starting out with just a few followers. Everyone starts from somewhere and it’s grit and consistency that helps you take off.
Update: Product Sourcing Workshop
If you’re interested to learn more about trading and importing from China (Alibaba.com or other trade platforms), we are launching a seminar on this topic soon. You can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Again, ask around and do your research. If you’re into online selling, you can either partner with Amazon or Lazada to manage your storefront for you. You can also your own own e-commerce store. We use Shopify, so easy to use! It took me just a few days to create the site – major accomplishment for a non-techie like me!
To Sum It Up
No one said it’s easy to start and run your own business. It takes a lot of work. There is no replacing grit, and every step forward you take matters.
We’re all learning, making mistakes, and adjusting, but you won’t know what you’ll get until you start.