A few people have asked me during the past couple of weeks what it’s like to start up a business, and also asked for some tips and pitfalls if they want to set something up for themselves. This is not usually the subject for Kinuvate consulting, but after I had compiled a simple “homework” for the people who asked, I couldn’t resist putting the advice online – also considering Kinuvate is here for Startups and have a few years of experience dealing with this type of questions.
A few important things to consider when starting a blog, a business or possibly any major project in your life:
- Write down a one page document explaining in simple terms the niche you target, including who the intended readers are (be short but specific, try considering at least 2-3 types of people, including their interests and goals in life and probably most important. why they would be interested in visiting your website) Don’t forget to find a good genre which doesn’t have too much competition. As a help, you can look at available domain names (I use WhoIs), but probably more important look at tools such as to find a niche which has many people searching for it but only little competition (“secret to success”) Keyword Tools
- Explain briefly (1-3 sentences per point) your advantages, threats, strengths and weaknesses:
- Advantages: What are you going to do better than anyone else?
- Threats: What are others doing better than you can when starting up?
- Strengths: What are your strengths which will help you succeed? This could be for example your experience, knowledge and passion for the subject
- Weaknesses: Which inner weaknesses do you find in yourself with regards to starting this?
- Write down a one page business plan specifying your mission, vision, goals, short-term tactics and long-term strategy for the business / website/ blog
- Mission: Specify why you are doing this and what makes you passionate about it, what will make you continue going if it doesn’t make a grand profit within a couple sof months? How about six month? Will you be able to stick with it long enough to achieve your goals? This is not to say that you should stick with an idea if proven hopeless, but most enterprises take time before achieving their goals
- Vision: Where will this take you and your business
- In one year?
- In five years?
- In ten years?
- Will it be a growing startup with massive amount of bloggers or will it be just enough to help you have a relaxed life?
- Goals: What are your ultimate goals when starting with this?
- Do you want to become famous, have the most popular blog/service or give other passionate people help as the first step of a hopefully amazing career?
- “I want the business to support me so I don’t have to work” or similar does not count as a business goal…
- Also write down a couple short term goals – make this a list of smaller achievements along the way which will support the longer term goals in some way
- Short-term tactics: What will you do to make people find out about your blog, website and the work you do in the short term, and to help your website visitors convert toward your goals?
- Are you willing to spend time commenting on blogs, Twitter and other Social Media channels to encourage people to visit your website?
- Will you pay for advertising on Google and other services?
- Will you create content which Google and other search engines like?
- Will you stay updated with your results and continuously try to improve areas in need?
- Will you listen to feedback from readers and keep a presence on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook?
- Are you willing and able to hire experts in fields such as Conversion Rate Optimization, Search Engine Optimization and Social Media Optimization, and follow their advice? over the long
- Long term strategy
- How will you keep people interested in your service term? Many websites have compelling features to make people stay for the first visit and possibly come back once or twice, but creating a lasting interest is a difficult and time consuming endeavor
- Will you engage with the community and change your service according to popular demand, or tell them that “you can have it any color you want, as long as it’s black”? Many ‘old media’ people think of the web as just another marketing channel, but with more and more social media integration anyone who doesn’t embrace change runs a high risk of being left behind. However, remember that in a few areas, change can give negative results (usually depending on which type of change though)
- Will you try to swiftly move in on new services if you see an opening, or do you prefer to keep a narrow niche? Moving into new areas could mean you spread yourself too thin before being ready, but could also mean taking a worthwhile risk to be the first in undiscovered lands which could lead to groundbreaking results and a place in the spotlight
- Write down a description of the people you need to realize the idea, at any mentioned stage – for a blog it might only be yourself, but when/if moving into additional services you need to be ready, and if you have already planned the services coming next, write down the kind of help you would need. If you can think of specific people, it might help you in the planning. Although you shouldn’t expect the specific person to jump on your idea, you would know the type of person and maybe even get some help in finding someone through the person you already know.
- Take time to consider the design of your website – do research on any competition (if there is any), do research on color psychology, usability and perception and write down a few notes on what you believe would be a suitable design both for the blog and for the future additions to the business that you have already considered. However, don’t forget there are experts with titles such as “Usability Expert”, “Web Designer” or “Conversion Optimizer”
When you have a couple of 1-2 summary pages ready try asking a friend to read them and see if anything is unclear. However, remember to try fitting all the information without any unnecessary extras (e.g. excessive information or explanations) if you want someone to read it properly and get a complete understanding of the idea. Also, you don’t need to answer every question from above – many are only samples – but be as specific as you can without adding too much “excessive wording”.
A great rule while writing a document is to write down everything you can think of to start with, then do more research and write down a few more thoughts – this part can easily be done in a mindmap (for example using Freemind on your computer). After you are satisfied with the collected information and research, start summarizing – first set a goal to shorten the text to half (which is usually easy), then try to get down to half of that, and when you have what you think is the minimum amount of text, set a goal for the next day to shorten that down to half again….