When I started my first business, about half a decade ago, an ocean of confidence flowed through my veins. Thoughts of myself paying my bills from what I earned overwhelmed me and I soon imagined myself riding my own car and living on my own terms as a CEO.
Few months later, I languished in uncertainty and my excitement was soon replaced by indifference. I learnt a lot of lessons – in the hard way – from my first business and as you would expect, I have been applying those lessons in my other businesses ever since. I have been generous enough to share them with student entrepreneurs who need to grow their businesses with little budget.
Mistake #1: Not Having a Business Plan
The only way to answer the question, “is this a good business idea?” is to get your business plan done. You will be tempted to ignore the business plan aspect of your business and assume your business would be profitable anyway. If you ever do that, you will be making a huge mistake. Writing a business plan is one of the most dreaded aspect of business, especially as a student entrepreneur who knows little or nothing about business plan. Yet this is the most important aspect of your business. A business plan tests the feasibility if your business idea and makes your business planning manageable and effective. There are a wealth of materials online where you get help on how to write a business plan.
Mistake #2: Not Doing a Market Research
You may think you have the best product in the world but does anyone else think so? Do you have an idea if people are going to be willing to buy your products or services? These vital questions will only be answered when you carry out a market research. You need to gather information from your customers so as to focus your marketing efforts, maintain, improve your customer service, and guide your efforts in developing new products or services. It is easier to carry out a market research as a student entrepreneur. You can have an idea what your customers – mostly students – feel about your product by asking them what they want and what they think about what your product. And a formal market research is equally needed to keep your business vital and growing. The greatest mistake an entrepreneur can make is investing in a business without carrying out a market research.
Mistake #3: Avoiding Marketing
If you are just starting a business, you can’t avoid marketing. Marketing is how you get your target market aware of your products and services. From word of mouth to TV and radio (Traditional marketing) or marketing through social media (digital marketing), there are various ways of getting words out about your product but your choice of marketing should depend on your target market, your business and your budget. Student entrepreneurs starting a business may not have a huge marketing budget. Words of mouth and digital marketing are the most suitable and effective type marketing for student entrepreneurs.
Mistake #4: Not knowing your customers
Who are your potential customers? What are their ages? What do they do? Where do they live? How do they buy? When do they buy? What influences their buying decisions? How quickly do they make buying decisions? Finding answers to these and other important questions will help you know who your ideal customers are. A marketing research usually will help you identify your target customers and how your customers make buying decision.
Mistake #5: Ignoring competition
Another big mistake you cannot afford to make is to ignore your competition. Having a good knowledge of what your competition is up to helps you make effective and profitable pricing decision. Competition knowledge also help you understand market saturation. You may not be able to thrive in a laundry services business if there are already too many brands offering same services in the same area and you don’t have anything new in the laundry business to offer.
I didn’t know all of these things when I started my first business. But thanks to this website, you know now. So go and get your business started without making any of these grave mistakes.