B Daily Article

“Begin with the end in mind“, Mark Jackson from MJ Associates advises on start-ups

Published in Business Management on 21 Sep 2011

Businesses are at their most vulnerable during establishment and periods of transition. Even with the soundest proposition at their core, today’s ultra-competitive commercial arena means a business improvement strategy is absolutely crucial for new ventures and product launches.

By establishing solid managerial and operational processes from the bottom up, MJ Associates helps businesses turn a good idea a great one.

Where do I start?

Steven Covey suggested that you should “begin with the end in mind”. When I set off on my own I spent a long time laying down the ground rules for what I wanted to do, how much I needed to earn and more importantly what I wasn’t prepared to do. This allowed me to focus on what was key to getting things up and running. I review my activities constantly and use this as a checklist to help me decide whether to undertake a project or to pass it over to someone else.

How do I select an idea?

You need to act as your biggest critic. You need to find the gap in your chosen market and then you need to investigate how you can satisfy that need. Designers will tell you to “fail early”. This means that if it isn’t going to work then find this out before investing a lot of time and money. If you can put all the obstacles you and your confidants can think of into the mix and the idea still works then is might just be a success.

How do I get funding?

Many others have tackled this topic and are much more expert than me at giving advice. The options are numerous but essentially you either have the money or you need to persuade someone to lend it to you. In either case you need to make sure that you keep everything as tight as possible. If you use more money than you have coming in then eventually you will fail. Also it is easy to lose sight of the big picture you created in Q1. Look at every aspect of expenditure and make sure you are getting the best deal possible. If you get it right at the beginning you will make sure your overheads are as low as they can be. Also ask the question; how am I going to get my money back? You must know what your break even figures are and you should prepare yourself mentally as if you were about to go in front of the Dragons.

How do I keep things on Track

Use short deadlines and update them frequently. Once your overall plan is in place you need to chip away at the task list. An effective way of doing this is to set short time based targets. If you plan to do 20 things and you give yourself a week there is a chance that things will get in the way and you will miss your self-imposed deadline. If you have a prioritised job list and you pick one thing and focus on it until you have it finished by a certain time you are more likely to succeed. Try it out. The results can be surprising.

How do I let people know what I have?

Marketing your product or service is possibly the most important thing you can do. Describe the benefits. Don’t just focus on what it can do. Make sure you get the message to the right people. Don’t take the easy option. You must make people see what you have and get them to investigate further. This is where you need as much imagination as you did when dreaming up the idea in the first place. Too many good ideas are not successful because they are not getting to their target market.

How do I persuade people to buy?

You need to give people a reason to buy what you have. Does it give them something that they want? Does it save time or money? Will it make life easier? Find the answers to these questions and make sure that you can quickly get the point across. If you can’t persuade them then who else can?

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