Top Five Tips for Launching Your Business

1. Share Your Idea and Feedback

When you have an idea for a business, it’s great to let people know. Get out there and start talking to people. You never know if the next person you share your idea with will know someone, who knows someone, who could really help you move forward. Sometimes when people come up with an idea for a business, their instinct is to keep it a secret. There are stories out there of people who’ve had their ideas stolen and that will make folks worry they shouldn’t tell anyone. But it’s quite the opposite; some of the best ideas get even better when people are willing to share them and seek out advice. The sooner you can get out there with your idea, the better.  So first things first– start telling people about your idea, see their reaction, and ask if there’s anyone else they think you should be talking to. Ask for their feedback and advice. You never know what you could learn.

Danaris Mazara, Sweet Grace Heavenly Cakes in Lawrence, MA 

2. It’s All About Your Customer

Once you’ve received some feedback and you think you’ve really got something, it’s time to think less about your amazing idea/product/service and more about your customer. A business can only survive if there are people who need or want it, so your customers are everything. In fact, potential customers are the best people to get advice from. No matter how delicious your food is or how innovative your technology is, without a market with customers who will buy from you, you will not have a business. You are more likely to be successful with a small slice of a large market than a large slice of no market or no customers at all.

3. Test Your Assumptions

When you start a business, there are a bunch of unknowns. Who is my best customer? Is there a market for my product or service? How will I reach my customer? Whether you’re online or have a storefront, your customers will need to find you. One of the most important things for an entrepreneur/future business owner to do is to start testing their assumptions and see if they can find answers to these questions. So the best thing to do is go out and ask people questions, specifically start doing interviews/surveys. It can feel intimidating, but you will learn an incredible amount by asking your potential customers the pains or needs they have, and how they make decisions and behave when they make purchases.

 Castro-Yves Arboite, GiveWave Studios in Lowell, MA

4. Start Small and Get Out There

There are a lot of logistics to starting a business from registration, to permits, to licensing, and much more. Thinking about all these to-dos can easily paralyze the average entrepreneur/business owner. Don’t let this stop you, find out the minimum you need to get going, and get started. If you dream of owning a restaurant, start catering. If you want to sell a product online, can you start with a limited release? If you have something innovative, can you pre-sell to help get cash flow going in order to further development? You want to get out there and start selling for two reasons: one, you will get valuable customer feedback and two, you will get your cash flow started and this is the lifeline of any business.

5. Keep Costs Low

You want to always find ways to keep your costs low. If you don’t need a storefront or an office right away, do not sign a lease for one. There are lots of ways to keep your costs and expenses low. If you need to purchase materials or goods, find a way to not pay retail price. Depending on the vendor, try to negotiate price or methods of financing based on the service.

Leanne Tremblay, Loomination in Westminster, MA

Bonus Tip: Find a Mentor

Mentors or advisors can help you reach critical business success. Often, we do not even know what we don’t know. Think about that for a minute. There are things out there you don’t know…but do you know what they are yet? Mentors can be individuals who are objective and looking at your business from the outside, they can hold you accountable for the goals you set for yourself. Often, we think we know all the answers and are the only one who can get things done, but trust me, you do not know everything. Additional sets of eyes and ears can work wonders for how you work in your business and on your business.

Miriam Morgenstern & Debra Fowler, History UnErased in Lowell, MA

About the author:

Lianna is part of the founding team of Entrepreneurship For All (EforAll). She’s held roles as a Program Associate and Senior Program Manager, working with the present CEO David Parker to develop the current accelerator program. In 2015, Lianna left EforAll Lowell-Lawrence for the opportunity to join technology startup FamilyID and then to work with the Institute for Nonprofit Practice. She is delighted to rejoin the EforAll team in a new role and to be back working in Lowell and Lawrence, two cities she is deeply committed to.  A resident of Lowell, Lianna is passionate about entrepreneurship and community development. She is a Commissioner on the Asian American Commission of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, serves as a Director on the Greater Lowell Community Foundation Board and is an Associate Member of the U.S.-Japan Council. Prior to EforAll, Lianna worked at a couple of arts nonprofits in Lowell and Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. Lianna received her B.A. from Smith College and her M.A. in Economic and Social Development of Regions from the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

If you’d like to get in touch, email Lianna at lianna@eforall.org or call 978-934-6518.

Learn more about Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll) Lowell-Lawrence by visiting eforall.org/ma/lowell-lawrence.

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