Yolanda Mason

*As a CEO Coach, I find that many new business owners often put the cart before the horse. I often see people investing a lot of time and money into office space, fliers and business cards, without thinking about the fundamentals needed to launch a new business.

Before your business opens its doors, there are basic items you need to consider, such as who is your audience, who are your competitors and is there a demand for your product.

Here are few things that all entrepreneurs should have in the business start up list:

  1. Clearly articulate your culture in your vision/mission statement and develop core values. A mission plan is a road map for the company. It states your goals, what you need to achieve those goals and how you are going to achieve them. Mission statements define what you do, who you serve, how you serve them, the unique difference you bring to your industry and what impact you intend to make within your industry. Core values are the rules that govern how you treat each other on the road to realizing the vision. At the top level, we define core values for how you treat the employees, the business, the customers, the vendors and the community.

  1. Define who your target market is. Before you launch your business you need to do basic market research about your target market. You need to determine who they are, where they are and how much disposable income they have. You will find this information to be essential when you develop your marketing and communications plan. The marketing and communications field is all about target marketing and you need to know what platforms to use to reach your customers.
  1. Develop a clear business plan. A business needs a clear plan of its mission, strategy and how it is going to get there. Entrepreneurs will find that business plans are essential when looking for additional funding. The first thing a banker or a potential investor will want to see is your business plan. The business plan is also useful as a source of reference in the future. If you ever run into a roadblock, or question if you are going in the right direction, refer back to your business plan.
  1. Develop strategic alliances. There is an old saying that no man is an island. This saying also applies to businesses. Entrepreneurs need to form strategic alliances with community leaders and business partners. These partners are important sources of reference and they also add credibility to your business with their endorsements.  And as we have seen with LinkedIn, connecting with other partners also connects you with their network. Most entrepreneurs also realize that word of mouth advertising is one of the most effective and cheapest ways of attracting new customers.
  1. Develop your 10 balloons for lead generation. The 10 balloons for lead generation are strategies taught and used by Estrada Strategies. These strategies are various ways to market your services and generate sales leads. The 10 balloons for lead generation are: purchase a sales list, referrals, executive briefing, networking, strategic alliances, website, newsletter, data base follow up, client appreciation, speaking, public relations and community service and volunteer work. Most companies use some of the items on the list, but a new entrepreneur should be methodically working through these tactics as a way to generate more attention and referrals for his company.

Having gone through this check list, entrepreneurs need to ask themselves which items were on their list and which ones were missing? If you have a lot of missing items you might have to head back to the drawing board and make some changes before you are ready to launch your business.