Some entrepreneurs envision an empire. Some are drawn to solving a real problem and offering an innovative solution. Others are passionate about starting a business in their small-town community, serving those they care about most.
In reality, small businesses are just as challenging to start and operate smoothly as a big corporation. In many cases, with such a small team, you end up wearing “all the hats”. How can you make sure you do it all right, especially as a startup?
- Find the “gap”. First, look around your small town. Is there a pressing need? Do you have a passion that you can turn into a business venture others can benefit from? What do you have to offer that others will enjoy/find useful? Take some time to explore your town, check out local businesses and see what is popular. Find out what draws in tourists and what locals regularly seek out.
- Talk to others. A frequently overlooked source of information is just asking. Ask potential customers, the locals, tourists, etc., what they feel the town needs. Is there something they wish they had? Certain entertainment? A gym? A boutique? Talk to as many people as you can and create a list of lucrative, desired business options.
- Identify the ideal gap. Go over the list you have created. Is there a gap that jumps out at you? One that you are the perfect fit to fill? Do you have years of experience baking goods for friends and family, have a great passion for doing so and a need for a bakery in your town? If so, you have a real opportunity sitting in front of you.
- Ask the tough questions. It might feel like the next step is forming a business plan, but you actually need to ask some more questions, diving a little deeper this time. For example, is there a way to put some resources into filling the gap before you throw in everything you have? “Test the waters”, so to speak. Can you start on a smaller scale? Is working out of your home a possibility at first?
- Create a business plan. If you’re confident about moving forward, it’s time to take all the information you’ve gleaned and create a business plan. Describe your product or service in detail. Map out a strong marketing plan. Iron out the operating details, like your location, number of employees and other pertinent details to your operations (like what software company you will use for invoicing).
- Prioritize cash flow. As you create your plan don’t forget to also consider cash flow. This is a big challenge for every business owner, and should definitely be a part of your business plan and day-to-day considerations as your business grows. Make sure you have an option on standby for unexpected startup costs and emergencies. A cash advance, for example, can provide the capital you need when you need it most.
All in all, be as thorough with your research and planning as possible. And be prepared to adapt and overcome challenges as they arise. With such a foundation, you’re setting your small-town business up for long-term success.Author Bio: Michael Hollis is a Detroit native who has helped hundreds of business owners with their cash advance solutions. He’s experimented with various occupations: computer programming, dog-training, accounting… But his favorite is the one he’s now doing — providing business funding for hard-working business owners across the country.