There are so many possibilities. New businesses can really work to change the world in big and small ways. You can do it just as well with a big, disruptive idea as you could with a small idea that impacts your neighbors.
Portugal is an excellent place to start a new business, but as with any new business (especially in recent times), you need to be smart before you launch. You need to know what you are doing and work out the kinks because though there will always be problems to overcome, the last thing you want is to be unprepared when you come across them.
Today planning and preparing your new business is so much more than one idea, too. If 2020 taught businesses anything, it was that diversifying and having more than one revenue stream was essential for survival. Existing businesses had to get creative and work with what they had. You can be smart from the get-go.
Improve Your Skillset and Knowledge
You can and should start this step as soon as possible, but you do not need to hold off the next steps outlined in this guide until you are good enough or know enough. The fact is you should always be learning. Only then can you improve yourself and your business again and again as is necessary.
There are a few key areas you will want to start investing in.
An Online MBA
There are so many reasons to earn an online MBA when you are interested in starting a business of your own – especially a business with a disruptive idea at its heart.
This doesn’t mean that you should specialize in an area that you are already more than proficient in. There are many different areas you can focus on as part of your MBA, including data analytics, management, and marketing. By choosing an area that you lack in, you can work to improve your business and your own weaknesses.
Natural talent and acumen can take a business leader far on their own merit, but everyone has areas that they can work on. By choosing that as your specialization, you can round out your skillset and better your business with a strong and stable pillar.
The specialization that will help new business owners the most that we recommend is data analytics, but if you don’t have a natural knack for marketing or will need to manage a very large supply chain, then other specializations will help you better.
For most, however, the secret is in your data. You want the ability to use data – both your own and others’ – to extract insightful, actionable information. Business intelligence solutions use data at their core, and when it comes to growing, you cannot do better than with a data analytics MBA.
This doesn’t mean that you should take time off to do your MBA. In fact, you don’t even have to quit your day job. There are many truly great online MBA options out there for you to choose from. They are 100% online, taught in small classes, and you are even paired with an industry expert to help you.
The best part is that you can put your future business as an example throughout your education. Your industry mentor will be by your side, you will have the ultimate flexibility, and you will be able to build a great business plan and model every step of the way.
Podcasts and News
An MBA is a great foundation, but a truly great business person is one that never stops learning. The world is a big place, and it moves fast. Not keeping up with the news is dangerous for a business owner. There may be a new competitor on the horizon. There may be a new technology that you can take advantage of.
There are many ways to keep up to date with the news. Reading the news and having a subscription to a few industry magazines is a great place to start, but don’t forget about podcasts, too. Radio shows are relatively dead in this day and age, but they have found a new home in the form of podcasts.
Listen to interviews, hear about new tech, and generally just learn. For busy business owners and workers, having a podcast on in the background is a very easy way to stay up to date and in the know.
Short Online Courses
These are not professional courses. You can get a certificate that proves you completed them and that you have that basic topic understood, but they are generally no replacement for a degree. What they are good at, however, is explaining complex topics in easy to understand terms.
You can understand more about what other areas of your business mean and do. You can understand more about the industry as a whole, or even keep up to date with new technology and understand how it works.
There are many reasons why you will want to supplement your education with a short online course. It is important to note, however, that they do still take time. You may want to hold off trying online courses until after you finish your MBA, just so that you have more time and energy to juggle your life, your career, and your education.
Don’t be afraid to sign up for courses that have nothing to do with your industry or business, either. Inspiration can strike anywhere. Adopting ideas from other fields is a great way to stay on top of your game.
Talks and Conferences
There are two reasons why you will want to attend talks and conferences, even just as a guest. For one, it’s always a good idea to keep an ear out for the latest discourse. You may learn something new, or you may be inspired by what you learn or hear.
Of course, the biggest reason to go is that you can actually interact with those at the conference or talk. You can mingle, you can ask questions, you can start debates. You will also naturally be networking, which is just as important as a business owner as it is an employee.
Using What You Know: How to Build a Great Business Plan
Knowledge is power, but it is possible to go overboard. You can never know everything, and that is a fact. If you keep waiting until you know more, you will never launch your business. At the same time, going in too soon can spell doom.
Generally speaking, you will want to understand a few things first:
- What is the state of the industry?
- What are the rules and regulations?
- Why are successful companies a success?
- Why did the failed businesses fail?
- How can you stand out?
- How will you run a business?
- Who are your audience (customers/clients/readers)
You should be able to workshop and think everything through during your MBA, so you should have a working business plan long before you start to feel like you have an actual grasp of all that you need to know.
There is a lot of time between having a solid business plan and launch. Keep your business plan simple to start with. You will always be able to change and adapt and bring in new business ideas later on. Choose the most stable, understandable version of your business as this is how you will get the funding that you need, as well as how you will be able to best market your company.
For example, you may have an idea for a virtual changing room business, one which works to give retail businesses the ability for customers to “try” on their clothes using their phone or computer. This is a solid business to start with, but it is not a static idea. You can expand it in many ways, from expanding into avatar creation to partnering with designers to create your own line of clothes, all the way to revolutionizing ideas like fashion week and beyond.
Don’t run before you know how to walk, however. By starting with a small, solid idea, you can then grow and expand and then become incredible. Take Netflix, for example. Their initial business model was simply to get people the DVDs that they wanted directly to their door. They were a small company that had minimal reach until they created their on-demand platform.
And everything changed.
Getting your business out there is important, so focus on what the core of your business is and make plans on how it will grow in the future. You can always change, but to change, you first need that spark.
What You Need Before You Launch
Physically you will need a few things before you launch. You will need funding. You will need a location, a name, a brand, and so on. Your business plan, which outlines what your business and its business model is, is a great place to start. If your company can start online, then you can save and work online or at a hot desk. If your company needs a physical location to start, do demographic research to see what neighborhood would be best to open up in.
Overall, you will need:
- A website
- A digital presence
- A data management solution
- A cloud account
- A name
- A brand
- Business tax
Take your time with this aspect, especially the funding step. You can look for a bank loan, for personal loans from friends and family, and of course, you can also use your own savings. There is even the possibility of finding an investor if your idea is disruptive enough and has the potential for a large enough payoff.
There are many steps between taking your idea and making it a reality. Thankfully, however, there are many guides and those educators in your MBA there to help you direct your efforts. After all, managing a similar type of company or even being in executive-level management is not the same as starting from scratch.
Bring Over Your Resources
Though the business will be starting from scratch, you personally will not be. If you have connections, clients, and other hidden tips and tricks up your sleeve, use them. You are not being born alongside your company, and using every single piece of leverage and opportunity that you have is essential to your business’ success.
What to Remember as a New Business Owner
There is no plan that is foolproof, so don’t despair if it doesn’t work out or if you need to workshop it as you go. The point isn’t to have the perfect plan or have the best business model before you launch. The goal is instead to know your options. If you know what you can do, you can always make the best decision for your future at the time.
Putting so much emphasis on doing something perfectly is not how a business can grow or thrive. You need to be as reactive as you were prepared. Taking advantage of opportunities, making changes based on real-world situations, and focussing your efforts on what works and reworking what doesn’t is a part of every life.
Your business is a living, breathing entity. It needs nurturing to grow, but if you know every option ahead of time, you can always make an informed choice, even if it’s on the fly. This way, you can let inspiration guide your business and keep it together with a smart strategy.