Were you that kid who had a lemonade stand in your front yard once a week during the summer? I was too. I didn’t really care about making money at the time. I was much more interested in experimenting with different ways of drawing attention to my “storefront” and figuring out what the different responses from my potential customers would be. I brought my microphone and small amp out on the sidewalk at one point and sang about lemonade to our neighbors walking their dog and taking their evening stroll.
Since then, I’ve graduated from lemonade stands to small businesses in high school and college as well as a degree in Entrepreneurship from Baylor University. I currently own a small business in Nashville, TN called Pup-Stars Pet Services LLC. It’s supporting me as I’m chasing my dream of becoming a hit songwriter. One thing I’ve learned so far is it’s much more doable than you would think to start a business as long as there are a few elements in place.
1. A Great Idea
In our world today, priority #1 for a new product or service is filling a need in a convenient way. I took this into account when I started Pup-Stars. I had many friends playing music who were spending hundreds a month to keep their pets in a kennel while they were on the road. Their pets were unhappy and uncomfortable in the kennel and it was annoying for my friends to have to pick up/drop off their animals so often. Pup-Stars has allowed their pets to be cared for at home by someone they can trust/build a relationship with. A need was filled so the business grew quickly.
2. Sizable Demographic
For a business to grow and increase in value, you will need to find a niche of the world that is going to take interest in what you’re offering. I would suggest doing market research before starting your business to study whom your customers are, what competitors are offering customers, and how customers are responding to your competitors products or services.
3. Retention of Customers
Creating a loyal customer base is essential for the longevity of a business. If a business attracts one-and- done customers it will be extremely challenging to stay in business long-term and serve in one community. Pup-Stars has good customer retention because clients are constantly leaving town to go on tour. As long as relationships stay strong with clients, there will continue to be a need for my service.
4. Good Margins
Depending on the business, there will be a need for some capital (financial investment) from you or others to get the ball rolling. If you don’t have much cash to play with, I would suggest looking into some kind of service because it usually requires the least amount of financial investment and has high margins. For example, my pet service required very little capital to start and has low expenses which keeps my revenue margin high.
5. Market Research
In order to reach new customers, marketing is essential. Marketing is such a broad term in our world today as social media and other progressive ways of pushing a business have exploded. However, I still believe that word of mouth is one of the strongest ways to reach people. If someone out there had a positive experience with a product or service, they will likely become a valuable part of your marketing effort. The best part of that is they will do it for free! If a business is run well and meets a need it will have a great chance of succeeding.
Don’t be intimidated to turn a great idea into a great business. It will take effort, time, and capital, but if it’s done diligently and correctly the long-term benefits will far outweigh the initial sacrifices. Not to mention, being a bad-A boss lady is a lot of fun ;).