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Laying a Firm Foundation: How to Build Business from the Ground Up

By Lucinda Watrous
Business.com / Starting a Business / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Interested in starting a business but not sure where to start? Check out this starter plan that will prepare you for future success.

“At the beginning of every great success there lies a purpose. Recognize it, visualize it in your mind, and engage in a fierce brainstorming on how to achieve it. Regardless of its particular nature, whether you want to help develop a medicine that is 100 percent efficient in treating AIDS, or you dream of piloting your very own private jet, in order to begin building your business, you need to adopt the necessary mindset, clearly see your forthcoming goals, and set off for them.”
- Per Wickstrom, founder of Best Drug Rehabilitation.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that 90 percent of startups fail.

Make a product that people don’t need? You’ll fail.

Lack the assets you need to meet consumer demand? You’ll fail if you can’t get a handle on it quickly.

To be successful, you must put forth significant effort in planning what it is you’ll offer, what you’ll need, how you’ll promote it, and whether or not it meets the needs of your target consumer. 

The Idea

Regardless of industry, clearly define whatever it is you’re going to offer customers.

Whether you’re designing luxury home interiors, manufacturing and selling machine parts, or creating the ultimate fine dining experience, know what you’re doing, and know it well.

Ideally, your role in the business will overlap with something you’re passionate about. If you hate drawing and design, you wouldn’t start an interior design company, would you?

Think about the places where your career or skills intersect with your passion.

For example, if you’re a teacher, you could start an online tutoring company, and donate a percentage of the profit to any number of charities and organizations that help children in underserved areas.

If you’re a chef, you could open a restaurant, and donate a percentage of the profits to a local culinary school for scholarships, donate food to local food banks, host charity dinners and more.

Related Article: Will Work for Funding: 7 Ways to Finance Your First Small Business

The Assets

What do you have on hand that will help you operate and manage your business effectively? What do you need? How will you obtain the necessary products or services?

Let’s say you’re a brilliant graphic designer, but are planning on offering complete solutions for websites. You’ll either need to learn those web design skills you lack, or hire talent who can assist you with clients.

Once you have a list of assets figured out, you can start looking into the required financial obligations.

With the financial estimates in hand, you’ll be able to determine just how feasible your idea is.

Want to open a restaurant? You’ll need a full commercial kitchen, which could run into the thousands, along with a building, dining room furniture, dinnerware, barware, and more.

While it's possible to get many of these things used, or at discount prices through a restaurant supply warehouse, it’s a costly undertaking before you even consider the cost of food and hiring the staff you need.

If you need capital, you’ll have to brainstorm ways to raise it. You could turn to crowdsourcing platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, depending on the product or service you plan to offer.

Alternatively, you could turn to angel investors, or bootstrap the entire operation yourself.

If you find you can’t raise the money you need, you could adjust the idea for a smaller scale. Instead of the restaurant, start with a food truck, and expand accordingly.

Related Article: Old Dog, New Tricks: What's the Best Age to Start a Business?

Market Research: Is There Room for Your Business?

No matter what industry you’re in and what geographic location you’re planning to serve, there will be competition. Focus on isolating your target audience, as well as any competitors you’ll be up against.

The only way you’ll stand out is to know who your customers are and what they need. This also ensures you’ll deliver what they need in a way they can appreciate.

To differentiate from the competition, you’ll need to know how they’re addressing your audience and what they’re doing to create demand.

Then, create a strategy with better offers. Think outside the box. Create something that adds value for the customer, and improves upon their experience.

Market research ensures you’re serving a real purpose; fulfilling a real need, and doing it differently from the other guys.  


Before writing your business plan, it is essential to move from the vague business concept to a unique company and brand identity.

You’ll need to come up with a name that’s able to convey your message. Research to make sure you’re not violating trademarks. It’s also a good idea to hire an attorney to assist you.

You’ll want to invest in a domain name that matches your identity, and invest in quality web design and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) services to give yourself an edge against the competition.

Part of your startup cost should include an advertising budget. Work with an online marketing agency, PR or advertising agency to help you identify advertising avenues and budgets.

Because startup cash is often limited, be sure to focus efforts on social media platforms for the free exposure they can help build.

Related Article: You Can Do It: How to Start a Business on a Shoestring

Getting to Business

Once you know your business purpose, products/services, market, and promotional options, it’s time to get to work. Write your business plan.

Create the legal structure for your company, and register your business name. Move forward with the details outlined in your business and marketing plans.

It will be easy to get discouraged along the way, especially if you’re working a full-time job to support yourself while launching your startup.

It’s important to keep working through the difficulties, because we all know Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Patience and dedication pays off.

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