Recently I was doing a mentoring session for a young lady considering starting her own business. As we began to wrap up and cover the final points. She said, “So the first thing I need to do is create a website.” I stopped her.

We had spent the last forty-five minutes talking about how much planning goes into launching a business and about the research she needed to complete to see if her business plan was a viable option. But somehow, she missed the planning step and went straight to the taking action. This is a common misstep of small business owners, including me.

Doing something may feel like the right first step but the truth is planning is invaluable and could lead to the success or failure of your business. It can be so easy to get focused on the checklist types of items that we can begin doing things for our business before we have taken the time to do the research on how to get started.

5 Things to Do Before You Get to Work on your business

Here are five things you need to do before you go out and build your website and start to implement your plan on growing your business.

1. Figure out the problem.

When creating a business you need to solve a problem and the pain level of that problem needs to be a solution people are willing to pay for. Coming up with a great solution to solve a problem that has already by a free or almost free solution or is something that is low on the pain factor will hamper your business’s growth and potential for success.

A company once spent a lot of money on a program to check the tire pressure of 18 wheelers. When they went to show the truckers their great program, the trucker said, well I just use a penny and walk around my truck during my required inspection. They solved a problem that costs a penny. The pain point wasn’t high and the solution was already discovered for a very minimal cost. Doing the research up front about the problem would have saved the company from creating a solution to a problem that was already solved.

Know what problem you are solving and know what level it is on the pain scale.

2. Test your solution.

The second step continues in the research stage. Now that you know what problem you want to solve you can find out from others if they see the problem in the same light. The data you gather in this stage is invaluable because it can help point your solution in a new direction.

Think of these as fact finding missions. Make your questions neutral. The worst thing you can do in this step is lead your interviewee to the answer you are searching for, instead of getting un-bias data.

3. Figure out if there is an audience.

Now that you have your problem and the data to back up your solution you need to determine if there is an audience for your product or service. There is a product for almost every high level pain point so don’t think of this as is there an audience, more where is my audience at.

Your research from step one and two is crucial in helping to discover if your product or service is needed and now you need to figure out how to connect your product and service with those who need it most.

4. Identify your competition.

You might believe competition is not a good thing. But most pain points have been solved. And having competition is a valuable tool. Using the competition to learn about trends and where your audience is can really help as you begin to create a business. Networking with competition can also help you stay current on changes and open the door for collaboration opportunities in the future.

5. Use those resources.

If you are planning to work with the federal government you need to know how to register and use online CAGE Codes. You might be looking for funding and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program is a great resource right now. Another important and free resource when starting a small business is the Small Business Administration. The Small Business Administration has so much information on their website to help you start your small business. They also have education programs and information on how to get funding to get your business started.

Get Your Small Business Going with the Right Resources and Planning

What stage of starting a small business are you in? Did you jump past the planning? Even if you have started on the road to creating your own small business there is never a bad time and revisit these start up steps to make sure you are on the right track.

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Amanda is a military spouse and veteran who served in the Air Force for six years as a Civil Engineer including a deployment to Afghanistan. She traded in her combat boots for a diaper bag to stay home with her two boys and follow her husband’s military career. She published her first book in 2019 titled Women of the Military, sharing the stories of 28 military women. In 2019 she also launched her podcast also titled Women of the Military. In 2020, she was published as a collaborative author in Brave Women Strong Faith. And in 2021, she launched a YouTube channel to help young women answer their questions about military life, Girl’s Guide to the Military. You can learn more about Amanda at her blog Airman to Mom.