This article was written by guest blogger, Erica Francis.
There are many steps involved in building a successful business and it is key during the development stage to pick a business that will have the potential to grow and be successful. Part of this process is doing the research to ensure that there is a need for the business and a solid customer base available, and for those entrepreneurs who are veterans or people living with disabilities, there are some valuable opportunities available that can improve the odds of success.
Look for resources to guide you in your efforts
In the early stages of business development, it can be quite helpful to spend some time sorting through the resources provided by the Small Business Administration. They have resources specific to both veterans and people with disabilities, and veterans who became disabled during their military service who go into contracting will want to consider utilizing the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business Concern Program (SDVOSBC).
Even if the Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB) or SDVOSBC designations are not pertinent to the business you are building, you may find that featuring your veteran status can help build your customer base. Inc. reveals that a high percentage of Americans would prefer to use a veteran-owned business over a business not owned by a veteran, so it can be beneficial to incorporate references to your military experience into your marketing plans and materials.
Research and evaluate your potential customer base
Starting your own business should never be done on a whim, as there are many pieces of the puzzle that need to fit together for a startup to be successful. There’s picking an idea, researching, writing business plans, securing financing, and building a customer base, and the process can be intense. You may think that you have a killer business idea, but if there is not a continuing market for your product or service, your efforts will go unrewarded.
The Abilities Fund helps individuals with disabilities pursue business ownership, and they stress the importance of evaluating the feasibility of your idea. Not only do you have to consider your skill set and capacity for doing what it takes to build your business, but you have to evaluate your competition and potential customer base to make sure that your business idea is feasible. Is there a need for what you plan to provide and how will you reach your potential customers? Is there room for you in the market or is the competition too intense?
Leave no stone unturned in your search for loyal customers
As you get up and running, focus a lot of your efforts on spreading the word and building your customer base. Entrepreneur suggests putting together not only quality marketing materials, but utilizing trade shows, online connecting, networking, and cross-promotional opportunities too. Find ways to get your business in front of the specific type of customer you’re seeking and reach out to local news outlets to generate some buzz. Provide quality service at every turn and the word should spread about what you have to offer.
Practice self care
Throughout this process, remember: self care. Taking care of yourself is critical when one is pursuing business ownership. There are potential mental health challenges that are important to acknowledge, as stress can easily escalate into larger issues like depression or addiction. Reach out to local resources to protect your business and your mental health throughout this process, even after your business is successfully up and running.
Building a successful business takes more than drive and desire, but it can be a very rewarding experience. Owning a business can be particularly attractive to veterans or those people who are living with disabilities, and veterans in particular may find that their experience gives them an edge in building up a loyal customer base. Research and utilize every idea you can find for building your business and reaching out to the right customers and your vision should ultimately become a reality.[Image via Pixabay]