Starting your own business is an exciting challenge.
A Master of Business Administration degree program is designed to educate students in the core tenets of business practice, from marketing to finance to management and beyond, Southern New Hampshire University explained. One of the most popular advanced degree programs both at home and abroad, the MBA serves to prepare students for high-powered careers in the business world, typically in upper and executive management. Given the broad scope of the program, MBA graduates can be found in an array of industries, with examples including health care, law and finance.
In addition to training individuals for management roles within organizations, MBA programs also prepare students well for entrepreneurship. If you are considering applying to an MBA program, in the hopes of one day starting your own business, read on. This article will take a closer look at some of the most important first steps you must take on the road to small business success:
1. Bring something new to the table
While most businesses will offer services or products that can be found elsewhere – there is more than one pizza place or barbershop, for example – it is still important to try and develop a business that offers your own unique take on something that is available elsewhere, to give you an edge over competitors, Tory Johnson argued, writing for ABC News. Indeed, she stressed that your business doesn't have to be innovative or groundbreaking in terms of the base services it offers, but it must bring a new angle to the table in the way it is delivered. For example, if you plan to open a bakery, a different take on branding or product design can give your company the something "new" that the industry space needs.
2. Develop your business plan
Every new business should begin with a simple business plan, which ideally should outlines the kinds of services or products you plan to offer, how much it will likely cost to make the dream a reality and so on, Johnson explained. The U.S. Small Business Administration offers a number of resources for those looking to cultivate their business plans. Click here to learn more.
3. Network and promote your business extensively
According to journalist Susan Ward, writing for The Balance, it is important to cultivate interest around your brand before it is launched. This can entail building a website, social media page and even sending out flyers or email blasts with information. It is also helpful to network with potential clients, particularly if your company will offer services to other businesses. Examples of business-to-business companies include marketing and advertising agencies.
4. Enlist help
According to an article from the National Association of Realtors, it can be tempting to take on all tasks while establishing your business, in a bid to keep costs low. For example, you may take charge of advertising, IT, finance and so on. This can be a mistake, however, business owner Kimyatta Anderson told the association. This is because you run the risk of making crucial mistakes in areas of business that you are least comfortable or familiar with. And that's not to mention the fact that tackling so many things can be time consuming and divert your attention from more crucial decisions. "Trying to wear all hats is too overwhelming," Anderson argued. The solution is to build a team and/or hire companies that specialize in things such as marketing and IT.
5. Work on a pricing strategy
Johnson argued that it is important to develop a pricing strategy for the products or services you are set to provide before you hit the ground running. An effective pricing strategy will work to compensate you effectively for the time and effort your company puts in, while also keeping prices as low as possible for the consumer. This can be a fine line to balance, with Johnson noting that it is common for new businesses to undercharge for products and services in a bid to keep costs down for the consumer. While an MBA will provide you with extensive education in finance, it can certainly help to enlist other experts to work on the pricing strategy with you, or even consult with a financial advisor.
6. Look for financial backing
While you may have savings of your own to pour into your new venture, for many it is common practice to look for alternative sources of funding to start a new company. The U.S. Small Business Administration explained that options for funding include grants and loans – either from the government of privately. You could also consider looking for investors or business partners who are eager to work with you.
7. Cultivate a professional image
As Ward advised, it is crucial to build a professional reputation from the outset of your company. This means not letting seemingly small details slide – for example, Ward recommended investing in business cards, establishing a professional-looking website, having a business email address and so on.
8. Remember the important paperwork
In the excitement of building your company it can be easy to overlook the less captivating aspects of the process – completing important paperwork pertaining to certain legal mandates. As detailed by the U.S. Small Business Administration, you will need to get approved for an array of licenses and permits that vary at the state and federal level. You will also need to ensure that your business is registered with the government and IRS for tax purposes.