How to Start a Business - The Best Toilet Paper
I have been struggling to write a quick "how-to" for new businesses. True to my nature, I only have the patience for a bulleted list.
1. Do a LOT of research.
You have to be able to explain your business better than any person in the world. If, for example, you're selling toilet paper, I'd expect you to be able to tell me why I need toilet paper, why your toilet paper is better than what I'm using, how much your toilet paper costs, where I can buy your toilet paper and most importantly, why your toilet paper is something I should invest in. Write your plan, be specific.
2. Understand your market.
Are you selling toilet paper to individuals? Government agencies? Small businesses? Hospitals, hotels, restaurants? Are you selling your toilet paper online? Are you selling it door to door? You should know exactly where you're going to market yourself. Refine your plan based on the market that you're targeting.
3. Do more research – find the way.
Once you've determined your market, you need to research how to break into your market. Every industry has a way. You have to discover the way to do business with YOUR industry, in your market. For example, if you want to sell toilet paper to hotels, you'd need to find out HOW they buy toilet paper, where they buy it. Do they have a vendor list? Do they bid out their purchases? Are their trade organizations that you can join to connect with the customers? Update your plan
4. Start small and grow strategically.
If you know your market, if you understand how to connect with the customer, your company will grow. Every customer and customer experience will matter and each mistake and misstep will cost. Keep your costs down and stick to your plan.
5. Consider trade groups, associations, certifications and support organizations.
Being an entrepreneur is a lonely road. But you don't have to figure it out alone. There are organizations and associations for EVERY business and industry. You should seek them out (especially the low-cost groups) and become an active member. You don't have to reinvent certain wheels – learn from the experts, pick up their tips and pay it all forward when you have the chance. In case you're wondering - American Forest & Paper Association – it's a thing. You're not alone, don't do it alone.