My first experience of starting a business was full of adrenaline and excitement. There was so much I didn’t do because I began with a franchise, and up to a certain point, they do everything for you.
However, I had to learn on my own a lot on the go about taxes, accountants, payroll settings, marketing budget, running the business, employees, and so much more. When I decided to transition from one business to the other, there was still a lot to do and learn. Still, the knowledge I have now makes my second endeavor a little bit easier.
Are you thinking about starting your own business? You have a hobby you want to turn into a profitable business? Have you analyzed all you have to take into account to start your business with the right foot? You already started, but you wanna make it grow, and you don’t know what the next step is? Have you realized how much you need to invest in creating awareness and promotion?
All those questions are valid, and they all have an answer. Once you have decided to start a business, no matter the size, you need to know your MINTS.
MINTS stands for “Minimum Investment Necessary To Start” (I just made that up!). Yes, there is an investment required for you to start whether it is in time or money, usually both in different proportions.
Having a great idea seems to be enough to start, and it may be a crucial part. You have a new idea about a product, or a service that you feel can change the world! Now the real work starts.
“Experts” say that if you wanna have a business based on your great idea, you have to make money out of it; otherwise, it will be just a hobby, and that may be good for a while but not in the long run.
When you start, your overall budget may not be significant, and you'll want to do everything by yourself. There are no right or wrongs about this, but later on, it is about best practices and not to overwhelm yourself, so you don’t burn out. Keep in mind future investments and budget for them too.
Now you owe to yourself a bit of research about three basic things, such as how to run a business, how to make it profitable, and how to promote it. At the end of this part of the process, you may have a business plan in your mind that you can follow throughout your first steps into the entrepreneurial life. Please put it on paper so you can go back to it to review and evaluate your performance and evolution.
The MINTS are based on those things that you will discover are almost vital for your business to start, and then you will be adding more and more as you grow. MINTS are time and money, they fluctuate, and their need is dynamic and not in an even amount all the time.
You have to give yourself time, don’t rush the process for research, learn a little about essential things related to your product/service, the business world, and marketing. Look for people that are ahead of you in the entrepreneurial journey to ask them questions or to ask for advice. Choose wisely!
You will need to set up a time for this project, whether it’s full time or part-time. You need time for planning and execution. You need time for production and distribution.
You need time for appointments or meetings. You need time to research vendors, equipment, location, etc. You have to schedule networking events or events to build relationships.
You will have the time to fail, learn, and improve on the go. Don’t be afraid because failure is part of the process to be successful.
Financials are important, so you will start and do the best you can with what you have. You need to budget for present and future expenses. You have to make calculations to be sure your efforts and investment will have some return and even doing that, there is no guarantee. You have to do a cost analysis and sales projection to understand your costs, pricing, and profit. The money approach will draw the big picture of how big or small you’ll start your operations.
Honestly, we all need to know what is the minimum amount of money we need to invest so we can plan, save, ask for a loan, look for partners or investors.
Looking at the MINTS, let’s make some sort of checklist for the process so that you can have a better idea of what to do. I may be missing some things; it will all depend on the service, product, country, etc. Let’s say these are the basics.
1. The idea of a product or service
2. The business side:
a. Will it be under your legal name (individual) or a legal entity (company)
b. Will you be doing it alone or in partnership with someone else.
c. Develop the idea based on the:
i. How does the product/service work?
ii. Who is it for?
iii. How can it be distributed?
iv. How much it cost you to make?
v. How much profit you want or can have from it?
d. Do you need special packaging?
e. Do you need special equipment?
f. Do you need employees or independent contractors?
g. Can you ship it in case of being a tangible product?
i. How much does it cost?
ii. Do you need a special package for this purpose?
- How much this cost?
- How long will it take?
h. What is your area of influence?
i. Who is your ideal client?
j. Do you need contracts?
k. Do you need an accountant?
l. Will you be collecting/paying sales taxes?
m. Do you need an office, commercial space, or warehouse?
o. Production process
3. On the Profitable side:
a. Operational costs:
Utilities (electricity, water)
Cost of goods (materials to produce your product or service)
Professional fees (YOUR professional fees)
Human resources (employees, independent contractors, etc.)
b. Pricing! You have to keep in mind your costs and, from there, define the profit margin.
4. On the promotion side:
a. Branding budget:
i. Do you need a logo?
ii. Do you have a defined brand identity?
iii. Do you need to have a branded photoshoot/video of your product or service?
iv. Will you be online, physical location, or both?
v. Online presence:
- Landing page
- Social media accounts
- Email marketing
vi. Product branding:
- Branded packaging
- Shopping bags
b. Marketing budget:
i. Corporate identity
- Business cards, uniforms/apparel, letterheads, digital signatures, etc.
- Office branding
- Store branding
- Vehicle branding
ii. Offline marketing (Design and production of marketing collaterals)
- Flyers, brochures, banners, posters, stickers, etc.
- Promotional products
- Networking events
- Volunteer work
iii. Digital marketing:
- Social media posts
- Email marketing
iv. Digital advertising:
- Facebook and/or Google ads
- Paid advertising in online platforms or publications related to your industry.
v. Offline advertising:
- Paid advertising in printed magazine, newspapers, etc
- Tradeshows or events
- Free samples or service tryout
I know it looks overwhelming, and as I mentioned before, I may be missing some things. This checklist is a simple guide to spark your entrepreneurial mind and motivate you to take the next step.
Knowing your MINTS will help you understand what you need to start selling your product or service and be successful doing it! You don’t need to do it all at once. The important thing is to start, and then you will grow step by step.
I’ve been there, having a business is not easy, but hey, it's not impossible! Trust the process, ask for help, and believe in yourself.
If you have any questions, please feel free to comment or send me an email. Let’s chat!
Thanks for reading, until next entry