magine staring at a table full of great mouth watering produce, fresh oven baked bread, herbs a plenty, local farm raised beef, chicken or fish, the best cooking equipment possible and perhaps a great bottle of wine or two. Your culinary vision includes creating a lightly spiced, yet full flavored appetizer followed by an entrée basked in flavors and aromas from hours of tedious preparation and then completing this extravaganza with a delectable dessert that leaves one satiated, yet wanting more.
There is one small problem with this vision, you are an extremely successful entrepreneur, but a novice in the kitchen. How then do you create this meal? Where do you start? Do you try the recipes once before making them for friends and loved ones? Who will teach you basic knife skills, how to pick the best ingredients for each dish and how to nurture each ingredient to its fullest potential? These are just a few questions you are faced with in your quest to create the perfect meal.
You decide to venture into the culinary world on a solo journey. After a minor burn, a small cut and a poorly executed recipe, you decide to hire a Chef to train you. The Chef starts you off with basic knife skills, cooking techniques and food pairings that she has honed over countless hours in the kitchen while mastering her craft. You practice the menu with her until it is perfected and then off you go to create a sensational dining experience for your guests. In exchange for her services, the Chef asks you for help in starting her business.
She has seen so many success stories and seeks your advice to prevent the all to often restaurant failure. She has a vision of a restaurant filled with happy patrons who crave her food and desire the great service. They come back again and again, but how does she start this business?
She is staring at a desktop piled high with how to manuals, various business plans and countless business books. She doesn’t have the first idea of where to start. What she needs is a recipe for success.
As the Chef walked you through the various challenges of preparing your glorious meal, you will guide her through the process of opening a business. This task may be daunting for some, yet it illuminates your strengths.
You and the Chef agree to a recipe, that when followed, should lead to a successful launch of her business. Here is your secret recipe:
1. Utilize resources that help get the idea onto paper. Plan, plan, plan. This is the most important, yet most frequently overlooked part of business creation. Can you ever remember hearing a successful business owner say, “I planned too much?” Countless resources are available which include business plan building software, free or paid for business counselors, business consultants, countless how to books and the often times underutilized mentor. It is vital for your success to have a clear and precise understanding of what your business will provide and who the target customer is. Have clearly stated operational objectives that include entrance into the business world and a clear exit strategy.
2. Create the entity. Decide on how to legally set up your business. Some choices included a sole proprietorship, a Limited Liability Company, a corporation, partnership or charity. Make certain to identify the pros and cons of each entity and all of the regulations associated with each including liability protection. Once the entity has been chosen, create the appropriate bank accounts prior to initiating any business transactions. Secure an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS for proper handling of all tax matters.
3. Determine the legal requirements. Check with local, regional and state entities and request information on the minimum expectations that are required of you to operate your business legally. Requirements may include registering with a department of revenue for tax collection agency, operating permits or licenses, health or fire inspections.
4. Build Business Infrastructure. Review your business plan and decide what type of support systems and materials you will need to build the business. Are you starting your business out of the garage, the back of your truck or with bricks and mortar? You should have a budget created from your business plan for support materials such as office supplies, computer equipment and software, internet access, credit card processing, membership fees and other support services you deem as an important part of running your business.
5. Create vital assets. Website design, trademarks, logos, intellectual capitol, copyrights and provisional patents are just a few things to consider. Often times employment contracts and confidentiality agreements are part of this process. Once created, ensure that you have policies and practices in place to protect and retain these assets.
6. Acquire financing. The financial overview and objectives should have been clearly defined as part of the business plan. It is now time to get the financing into place. It could be your savings, partnership cash or outsider investment dollars. If possible, seek counsel to review any and all financial agreements you may enter into. Each party involved must be absolutely clear as to the financial expectations of each other.
7. Establish operational logistics. Many start up companies have limited resources for accountants, lawyers and insurance needs. Additional considerations include Information Technology staff, banking, E-Commerce and website design personal. Training and Human Resources are two more areas that are often overlooked. There are countless tasks for any business owner to contend with and creating a support team is vital for their success.
8. Hire people. Acquire the very best human capitol and retain them. Outside of sole proprietors, businesses live and die by the quality of the operations team. Hiring and training are two very large investments of money and time. Establish consistent hiring and training methods that yield loyal and long- term employees who will aid in the growth of your organization. Forward thinking employers find ways to tie in employee compensation to company performance.
9. Get the message out. Market your business! There are a myriad of ways to accomplish this task and remember to stay focused on your plan. Make sure your brand’s message is memorable, clear, precise and it differentiates you from your competition. Consider your web site design, mobile connectivity to supplemental sites and the numerous avenues to open communication channels with your potential customer.
10. Open the doors, execute and Sell! Market research has been completed and a research strategy has been implemented. You have identified your potential customer and their purchasing habits. Your goal now is to under promise and over deliver to ensure optimal customer satisfaction. Embrace feedback and create powerful recoveries as needed. Fabricate long lasting customer relationships through outstanding products and services; repeat.
Give five chefs the same ingredients and ask them to execute the same recipe. You will end up with five similar, yet very different dishes. The same would be true with five different entrepreneurs and these ten steps. There is not one sure-fire way to accomplish the arduous task of creating a business. However, just like a finely tuned gastronomic creation, plenty of planning, attention to detail, a lot of hard work, the right timing and a little luck go a long way towards the successful launch of a new venture.