Whether you’re starting a business with a team or pursuing it solo, you’ll want to prepare for whatever comes your way. These tools and tips will help you get your business plan off the napkin and on the ground running.
The first step toward starting any business is creating a business plan. This document illustrates your business concept and provides an actionable strategy for growth. You can always revisit it and make adjustments to it, which is recommended to do every 3-5 years. For starters though, your business plan should hit all the following points:
- Business Overview
- Sales and Marketing Plan
- Operating Plan
- Human Resources Plan
- Action Plan
- Executive Summary
- Appendix: Financial Plan
Without a formal plan in place, your business may lack feasible goals, which can hinder overall growth. Having a business plan is ideal for determining your business’ financial needs, and it’s equally important for communicating your business’ financial needs with potential investors.
Displaying your business concept and expectations will show investors you’re serious. It will make them feel more confident investing their money into something that has an actual action. We will touch on funding and finances in the following sections a bit more.
At this point, you’ve defined your growth strategy associated with your overall business plan. It’s more likely than not that you will need financial help in order to start seeing growth. Some tools to utilize during this stage are a business loan calculator and a loan comparing tool. Loans aren’t something to jump into blindly, it’s crucial to ensure you’re finding the best rate and solution for your needs.
But as for what to use these funds for, there are some simple rules. Don’t take more than you need. Use the money for things that will help scale your business, like a marketing or advertising campaign. This money isn’t intended for business necessities—i.e paying employees or workspace rent.
Alternatively, you could crowdfund or use your network to find investors. We’ll discuss how to do that in the next section.
Networking is a crucial component for your business, as it is a way to show face and form important connections with others within the same industry. Attending networking events, requesting to follow professionals on LinkedIn, or signing up for business conferences or guest speakers are all ways to find employees, clients, and funding. No need to worry if you are an introvert and are unsure of how to network. There are still ways to create meaningful connections within your comfort zone. Whether you’re introverted or not, online networking tools are effective.
Social media, specifically LinkedIn, is a great tool to make connections with people because you’re able to share your work experience on your profile and the feed. Before sending any DMs or friend requests, spruce up your social media profiles first so that when someone clicks on them, you’re showcasing a great online presence.
When creating or improving your socials, you’ll want to put your best image forward, so make sure you have the following on your profile:
- A professional profile picture
- A professional biography
- Your contact information as well as which is the best method
- Links to your other social media profiles as well as your website (if applicable)
Another tool to utilize is a quality and professional business card. Have these on hand for moments when you’re at a networking event, but don’t have a lot of time to communicate with someone. Handing them a business card is a great way to give them all the important information they need, and they’ll have a way to contact you if they’re interested in learning more about what you do and what your business goals are.
Consider applying for an accelerator program. There are many options available. Some larger brands have even started their own accelerator programs.
For example, the founders of the company Gopuff started a program called Put Me On Gopuff to help aspiring entrepreneurs grow their businesses. You might be wondering – Why are big companies doing this? They’re creating programs because not so long ago, they were a small business too. To summarize, these programs are great for networking with potential investors or clients.
Project Management Tools
One of the most valuable resources entrepreneurs have is time, but managing your time can be an overwhelming task when there are many things that need to get done. No matter the size of the business, project management tools will always be essential.
Without them, it can’t be assured that tasks are effectively and efficiently completed. Typically, you can find the following features in project management software.
- Time tracking
- Task tracking and management
- Document sharing
- Task sequence and prioritization
- Project overview and reporting
All of these features can help you and your team collaborate effectively with one another. However, this list is not exhaustive. Some programs can track other important aspects–i.e your budget or resource allocation.
Make sure to do your research on different applications to meet your business needs. Consider using a more flexible platform, like Hive or Trello. A program that can adapt to the different stages of your business is ideal for a fast-growing company.
If you’re in the beginning stages of growing your business, you’ll still benefit from project management software. You want to be on top of things and able to pivot when unexpected changes in your projects pop up.
It’s extremely important to keep track of specific projects you’re working on that are helping your business thrive, and it’s just as imperative to stay on top of your business finances. This can save you a lot of time and stress by keeping track of the following.
A key aspect of your finances is your budget. It’s likely that as your business grows, you’ll adjust your budget accordingly. From one platform you can create new budgets based on the software’s intel.
You’ll save time too since your software will analyze previous budgets for you. After analyzing, it will compare them to your current budget and propose changes.
Client Services and Banks
In most cases, banking software can help you handle bank accounts and client finances. It will run reports on expenses, payments, revenues, and other aspects you will want to keep tabs on. Additionally, with banking software, you’ll be able to provide invoices and bills to your clients. With the data from invoices and bills, you’ll also be able to track sales within your software account.
Payroll and tax reports
This software isn’t only for managing client finances but it’s also useful for employee finances. Anything from salary to bonuses, or even taxes, is likely to be covered by accounting software.
Cyber Protection Software
According to an Accenture report, security attacks increased 31% between 2020 and 2021. Additionally, the report found that the number of attacks per company increased. It’s more likely than not that you’ve put a lot of money, energy, and time into your business.
Not to mention, your investors, clients, and employees have too. With that said, it’s crucial that you protect all the progress you’ve made. Without protection on your devices, the following threats put your business at stake.
- Malware viruses
- Identity theft
- Hacking attempts
- Ransomware attacks
- Little to no internet security
Unless you’re okay with being open to a potential online risk, it’s recommended that you invest in cyber protection software. Be sure to do your research and compare antivirus providers so you know you’re 100% protected. With a lot of tools and services being online, it’s vital to prioritize protection on whatever digital devices you use.
Starting a business can be overwhelming and there is a seemingly endless checklist of tasks. Hopefully, these tools and tips will help you in your business venture. Remember to cover all of your bases and do what’s best for your business in its current state. And develop a sales plan
Don’t lose sight of the big picture in the small details. You may re-evaluate your needs as your business progresses, but you can’t undo biting off more than you can chew.