Simple 3 step guide to starting a new website and online business

Starting a new website is like cooking up a new recipe; without a logical and methodical process, it can take new business owners many trials and errors before achieving success. Recipes come with unique ingredients, steps and a process to follow to increase success and create a cooking masterpiece.

Have you ever tried replicating a recipe without following the directions or using alternative ingredients? I know I have. My wife often comes home to my ‘creative cooking’, as she calls it, but the taste and presentation do not always fit the appetite. However, in this case, I’m referring to spending less than $50 on cooking experiments where the cost of failure is easily absorbed and used as a learning experience. However, when considering starting a new website, the cost is often a lot more than $50 and a few hours.

This guide will walk through the most common approach used to start and complete a successful website.

Step #1 – Preparing and collecting all your ingredients before starting your new website

The most logical step, but often the most neglected step, is planning.

Think of planning as preparation for cooking. How often have you started cooking a meal without checking if the ingredients are in the fridge?

As an entrepreneur, it’s important to plan before spending any money on any new business idea or website. If you haven’t put together your recipe for success, otherwise known as a business plan, I suggest reviewing this article “6 Things to consider before spending money on a new business idea”.

Increase your chances by having a structured approached to business; act like a successful business in your approach and success will follow. However, the reverse is also unhealthy in over planning and never executing. In other words, don’t get caught in analysis paralysis, but rather, focus on the essential and a process to act on it.

What is analysis paralysis?

Analysis paralysis is when entrepreneurs over-analyze or over-think a situation to the point of not taking any action — in other words, paralyzing the new business idea or website. Having a plan is essential, but no plan needs to be perfect. The incessant pursuit of perfection with your new business idea or website means it likely will die before even starting.

Does this state of mind sound like someone you know?

Have a look at this great article on Forbes that helps overcome the analysis paralysis of decision making.

Step #2 How to choose the right web development company for your new website

Choosing a web development company is like choosing your next business partner, family pet or career opportunity. In other words, it’s a decision that will stick with you and hard to change. As a rule, it’s important you choose wisely as this decision can make or break your business. For instance, it’s common for some web development companies to offer cheaper services than others. However, the cost is less important than the understanding they have for your web development project.

More specifically, it’s common for web development companies to misquote customers making the initial web development offer very appealing but ends up costing business owners more when all is said and done.

If unsure, challenge your web development company on their understanding of your business.

Pro-tip.

Chose a web development company that will challenge your ideas and help poke holes in your plan. Don’t pick a “yes man” web development company, who isn’t interested in seeing your business succeed. In most cases, these companies might cost less upfront but will end up costing you more long-term.

Have a look at this great article “8 things to consider when choosing a web development company,” which helps entrepreneurs make the smart decision when picking a web development company.

To summarize, when building a new website, there are hundreds of different ways to achieve the desired result. A large part of choosing how to start developing your website comes from the experience and expertise of your web development company. If you’ve taken the time to choose a company that cares about your project and has experience in your industry, it’s important to rely on their strengths and advise when developing your new website.

Step #3 The process of creating a successful new website and online business

It’s one thing to have a business plan, but it’s now time to convert that business plan into actionable milestones. In other words, web development companies shouldn’t start coding a website without having a design strategy first. The four most basic chronological steps to get a new website started are; design, develop, test and launch.

Milestone #1 – Web design, wireframe and setting the visual appeal of the new website

Web design is the process of gathering all the ideas and visually arranging them for presentation on the web. It’s important to complete your web design ahead of web development.

Here are the most notable elements of web design to consider:

  • The layout is how the visual graphics, ads and text will be displayed on the website. The goal is to make the most prominent elements stand out for higher customer appeal and conversions. In other words, go back to your new website goals. Your layout should speak to your goals.
  • The colours you choose will reflect your brand and convey what type of company you are. You’ve most likely heard the expression that a picture is worth a thousand words? Well, in the case of a website, your colours also have this effect on future customers.
  • The graphics are used to enhance the visual appeal of a website and make your website stand out.
  • The fonts are used to display your content on the website. It’s important to use various fonts to enhance a website design but stay within the most common web-browser fonts known as “web-safe fonts.”
  • The content is used to enhance the products and services of the site through text but also visual.

More importantly, the process needs to also consider the impact of the design towards the business goals. In most cases, SEO is a huge factor for any new website, which means the design should do its best to meet the highest standards of SEO upfront. It’s common for entrepreneurs to get caught up on the visually appealing side of design and think SEO later. However, that’s backwards thinking and often results in poor google ranking and customer conversions.

Milestone #2 Web development of the new website

Now that your web design is complete, it’s time to add zeros and ones and bring the project to life.

A good web development company should provide customers with a visual demonstration of what website pages will look like before starting code. 

One of the most common mistakes is to make changes “a la carte,” which can often result in hidden bugs because something is changed before initial development finishes. That said, don’t get me wrong, making changes is possible. We do them all the time, but clients must consider the potential impact it will have on the site performance and promised delivery time.

Think of it this way: the web design was done to offer a unified look across the website. If you change something, how does this affect user experience and functionalities across the website?

Web design and web development user-friendliness

Great, we now have a nice-looking website, but is it user-friendly? It’s important to make sure the web design and development offer users a clean and easy to use experience. If the website is too complicated to use, the referral rate and customer enragement could take a massive blow. As a rule, consider the user-friendliness of your website by paying attention to the following factors:

  • The navigation, how easy is it to navigate from page to page and perform actions. It’s important to consider the site architecture, menus and other navigation tools while keeping a focus on how users browse and search. In short, the goal is to help users navigate the new website with ease, allowing them to find valuable information.
  • The multimedia found on a website like videos and audios can help potential customers grasp the information easier and faster.
  • The compatibility refers to how well the website will perform on different browsers, operating systems and mobile devices.
  • The technology used can have a dramatic impact on the tools and resources available to grow. Most importantly, developing in a less common language will impact how much after support will be available.
  • The website interaction refers to allowing active participation from users on the website by adding comment boxes and opinion polls in the design.

Milestone #3 Testing the new website before going live

Different kinds of testing should be performed on a website before launching. In most cases, a large part of the testing is more technical and often completed by the development company. However, it’s recommended you take the new website for a spin.

In other words, as a child did you ever see buttons you weren’t supposed to press? Well, as part of your testing, it’s important to test all website functionalities and press all the buttons. If you are confused by the results, then your users will be too.

Below are the more common things to test while your website is in staging getting ready to go live:

  1. Checking all website content for spelling, grammar, punctuation
  2. Checking and testing all forms (newsletters, signups and more)
  3. Checking all images making sure they are optimized for web (reduce size for speed)
  4. Checking site speed (get your FREE score at uptrends)
  5. Checking mobile-friendliness
  6. Checking combability with other browsers
  7. Checking navigation of the website and menus
  8. Checking 404 error pages
  9. Checking your Favicon
  10. Checking your 301 redirects
  11. Checking all the title tags, meta tags and image alt tags
  12. Checking website HTML/XML sitemap
  13. Checking robot.txt
  14. Checking website analytics code like Google Analytics
  15. Checking Facebook pixel analytics (if needed)
  16. Checking social media integrations
  17. Checking website monitoring and alerts
  18. Checking website backup
  19. Checking traffic loads
  20. Checking protected pages if these require login
  21. Checking SSL Certificate

Milestone #4 The new website goes live!

Well, there’s not much to be said here – you’ve tested your website, and now it’s time to share the fruits of your labour with the world.

As discovered by many entrepreneurs, getting a new website on the web is just the start of an amazing journey.

In conclusion

Starting a new online business can be a lot of fun and an amazing learning experience. However, planning and execution are key to success.

Design the website with the end in mind, don’t skip steps and test your product before going live.

Have a website or a new idea?

At QPSdigital, we understand what it takes to bring a website to life and have experience working with business owners to design and develop their new website.

Visit www.qpsdigital.com for a free consultation to discuss your project goals.

We look forward to connecting with you,

Christian Duguay – Owner at QPSdigital

Sales Professional, Entrepreneur and Family Man

Website templates: 8 things you need to know before starting your journey

Think of website templates or custom websites as the foundation for your online business. Similarly, if your home resides on a poor foundation, it’s expected that walls and roof will equally suffer on performance and longevity.  In essence, would you buy a home without having a house inspection? 

The common mindset when buying a home is to have a professional house inspector check the home from top to bottom. Buyers do this to discover ahead of time what may or may not be wrong with the house before making the purchase. Therefore, without proper diligence, buyers could be walking into a nightmare fixer-upper without knowing it, meaning the price they originally bought into was far from reality.

Template websites are of a similar approach; at first glance, they seem affordable and complete, which appeals to all new business owners. However, get an experienced web developer to look under the hood of a template, and you might be surprised at how much work is involved in getting it set up and customized.

Don’t get caught with your pants down!

Before choosing between a website template or custom website for your online business, it’s important you do your research and look at all the things you’ll encounter throughout your journey that website templates won’t tell you. 

The main differences between website templates and custom websites

Website templates are very popular and growing trend. We as web developers, use them all the time when engaging new customer projects. That’s right; we also use them; however, our focus isn’t around are they good or bad. The focus is rather around, making sure you pick the right website template and have the resources and team your business needs to make it work.

On a high level, website templates offer business owners the opportunity to use a website that is already programmed with zeros and ones. Whereas, custom websites are built from scratch, and your only limitation is your imagination.

When considering a website template, it’s important you consider the future of the business – one, two and three years from now. Your business strategy might require additional features and functionalities that a website template can’t offer.

Steps involved in getting website templates online.

You’ve completed your research, you’ve found the template you wanted, it’s now time to bring your new website online. So, what’s next? Here’s a list of items to consider in bringing your project to reality.

First, what’s the cost of the template?

Was the website template free, or what is it purchased? Not all website templates are made the same, and some are updated while others don’t offer any update support. It’s best not to rush the selection of your template and offer your developer ample time to select a good template that will meet your business needs.

Second, who will host the website template?

Be wary of free hosting packages as these will often offer very poor website performance and security.

Third, who is responsible for the planning and project management?

Who will be styling the website, creating menus and adding new website pages? Typical website templates only offer the main home page, and additional pages must be styled and configured by the business owner. On average, business owners can expect at 40-60 hours of customization before bringing a new website template online. That said, more complex websites could take much longer, and that’s also assuming your web developer knows what he’s doing.

A good template should allow for high levels of customization within the template, and the goal is to make your website look unique and not identical to everyone else’s.

Forth, getting your CMS setup.

The installation of a CMS such as WordPress takes time, especially when using proper hosting servers and emphasizing site security.

Fifth, creating and implementing content for website templates.

The website is hosted, the template installed, and the CMS configured. It’s now time to start adding content to your pages. The uploading and maintenance of your website is the most time-consuming aspect of owning a website. Not only does it require significant time investment upfront but also requires a continued engagement daily, weekly and monthly.

Sixth, training and becoming self-sufficient on more basic tasks.

It’s great to have a team, and some web development companies will stay involved in all aspects of the business. However, set up your new website template in a way to allow the business owners to make some of the more common changes like changing a picture, adding a new blog post and changing some text.

Why custom websites typically cost more than website templates?

Like a book, a website template and custom website can often look the same when reading the cover. However, when you open the book and read through its content, the difference is often very obvious to any web developer.

Additionally, custom websites can offer some major SEO boosts to any website owner. Think of it this way: a website template is built for the masses with a lot of code that may never apply to your business, this code can easily affect your site performance which can result in the lower ranking with Google.  For more advantages of custom websites, have a look at this article by GoodManCreatives.

In essence, the coding structure, features and capabilities of a custom website are often much cleaner and more advanced while removing many potential weaknesses that website templates offer. However, custom websites do naturally take more time, and therefore are more expensive.

The cost associated with updating and refreshing website templates

In theory, it might seem like doing a quick website refresh, or an update that should be inexpensive. In some cases, this is true. However, it depends on what you’re trying to do.

The best advice is to plan, plan and plan.

Above all, building a website without knowing the direction of your business is a recipe for failure. It’s important you take the time of understanding your requirements today and those of tomorrow. In other words, if you haven’t put together a proper detailed strategy, I’d suggest looking at this article before starting an online business called, “6 Things to consider before spending money on a new business idea.”

The best way to avoid unnecessary cost when building your website is to be transparent with your web development team. It’s the job of your web development team to challenge and guide your journey. 

Why your business will need to update its website

Websites are meant to be ever-changing and growing as your company grows. If your website stays stagnant, don’t be surprised if your monthly traffic and customer engagement also take a hit.

There are many reasons why a business owner should consider updating their website, the most notable reasons are;

  1. Visual appeal
  2. Responsiveness & mobile-friendliness
  3. Compatibility
  4. Marketing
  5. Effective use of call to actions
  6. Design, images, and content
  7. SEO and website updates
  8. Security
  9. Usability

A great article that speaks exclusively to the importance of updating your website can be found at Granite5.

The differences between free and premium hosting services

There are a few types of hosting options: the most common ones are free hosting with domain purchase, a premium paid hosting and custom hosting. There’s no way to know what option will best suit your business without getting a better understanding of your requirements, however, in the case of taking the less expensive route, it’s a situation where you get what you pay for.

In essence, paid web hosting packages usually mean you are getting a much higher quality and better service from a reputable company that provides:

  • Higher quality and more personalized support
  • A better way to do automated website or server backups
  • A lower downtime and higher website uptime reliability
  • Better website security
  • A tailored hosting package (better speeds and optimized for your needs)
  • A scalable solution that can grow with your online business

What about those cheaper website template offers?

It’s like we said before, it’s a matter of you get what you pay for. In many cases, customers who opt-in in doing cheap in the front end, end up paying more during the life of their website fixing and updating things later.

Cheaper website template offers, come at a price. It might look like everything you need is there, but often there’s always hidden cost behind the curtain. Your goal is to understand this cost before jumping.

For example:

When looking at the Shopify partner program, you’ll notice they advertise an average of $10,000 in profit when setting up a new e-commerce website by one of their development partners. That said, a simple Shopify template still needs a certain level of set up and customization for anyone looking to build a new online business.

Further, consider the following before moving forward:

  • The website template chosen is good and popular (a less popular theme is less likely to get any updates or fixes in future)
  • The website template is properly configured and won’t have hundreds of hidden bugs
  • The website page layouts are configured properly
  • The website theme offers extensive backend customization
  • The website template offers proper security
  • Who owns the website domain, or intellectual property?
  • Is the service transferable?
  • Will it include or offer additional technical support after purchase?
  • What’s the response time when issues occur (because they will, they always do)?
  • Are you locked into any payment plan?
  • Will it include regular CMS maintenance and updates?

The importance of choosing the right web developer for your next website template or custom website

Choosing the right development team can make or break your business. As web developers, we’ve had hundreds of calls over the years with clients saying they wasted so much money and time already doing it all wrong.

The most common mistake is to use a development team who doesn’t truly understand your business. It’s your responsibility as business owners to challenge the development team and emphasize the planning stage of your website before starting.

In essence, if a development team is disorganized and unresponsive in the earlier stages of your new website, be wary of how this could translate it, you’re their ability to code and support.

For more information on how to choose a proper web development company, have a look at this article “8 things to consider when choosing a web development company”.

To sum it all up here’s what you need to do when building your new website

It’s simple, don’t cut corners. Take the time to properly assess your needs and requirements before choosing which route is best suited for your business.

Keep in mind, there’s nothing wrong with a website template. However, it’s your responsibility to review and understand what you are buying and getting before starting. At first glance, it’s normal for website templates to look very appealing, but it’s also in your long-term best interest to work with a web developer that understands the language and work required to bring your project to life.

A good website is worth the investment when done right, and your website is your hardest-working marketing tool. Take the time to shop around and compare your options but more importantly, consider the impact of your decision above the price.

Low price today, is often, higher price later.

At QPSdigital, we work with our client’s hand-in-hand to develop websites they are proud to call their own. If you’re interested in seeing how we can help you on your next website template or a custom website, then connect with us at www.qpsdigital.com or complete our FREE online questionnaire to get started.

We look forward to connecting with you,

Christian Duguay – Owner at QPSdigital

Sales Professional, Entrepreneur and Family Man

8 things to consider when choosing a web development company

Choosing your web development company is like choosing your life partner, your next family pet, your next car or your next career. Once the decision to proceed is made, it’s very hard to walk away. Keep in mind, it’s not impossible, but the headache that follows makes the journey of starting a new online website a very unpleasant one.

When hiring a web development company for your new website, it’s important you take the time in choosing the right team. Sometimes the right team might also not be the most expensive, or the least expensive.

In most cases, the web development team will gain access to all of your website’s modules, including backend super administrative permissions. Think of it this way; it’s like giving your web development team a key to your cottage home, with full permission to visit and enjoy the facilities anytime they choose.

If someone had access to my home, I’d make sure it’s someone I liked and trusted.

The typical journey for any new website owner in choosing the right web development company

Ask any new website owner how the web development of their website went, and you’ll most likely have them laughing or crying. Both expressions are the same; the typical answer will be “which version of my website are you referring to?”

Don’t be alarmed; this is simply part of the entrepreneurial journey that most of us face. However, there are logical tips and tricks you can consider to avoid the most common mistakes made when choosing a web development company.

How to determine what type of website you’ll need

It’s difficult to determine your web development needs if you don’t know how your business will attract customers and make money. Part of any successful new business or a new website is planning. It’s important to have a completed business plan and, most importantly, to have a validated business idea. I’d recommend reading the following article “6 Things to consider before spending money on a new business idea.”

First and foremost, for your web development company to have success, they will require as many details and information on what you’re trying to achieve. In essence, if you limit how much information you share with them, then you are also limiting how much impact they can bring to your success. The more information you share with your web development company, the easier it will be for them to help map your journey.

There are different types of websites, more commonly known as templated websites and custom coded websites.

What is a website template?

In short, think of a website template as a cookie-cutter approach to building your website. Overall, it’s a fantastic way to get your ideas on the web fast. However, the largest downfall is customization; once you start adding more custom features to your template, it’s often less expensive to create a custom platform using a web development company. In other words, a website template is a premade webpage, or a set of standardized webpages that allow some level of manipulation with text, tables, images, videos and other visual elements to create a complete website. For additional references on what is a template website, have a look at this great article by Techopedia.

There are many examples of great template websites on the web, like Shopify, PageCloud, Wix, or WordPress. Keep in mind, templates can be a great starting point for any new website owner but are very limited. It’s important to understand your branding guidelines and expectations for your business before choosing this route.

Our experience as a web development company

As an experienced web development company, we receive numerous monthly request from customers to help set up their template website. Basically, website templates are more of a “one size fits all” type of solution. In most cases they come equipped with tones of extra features your business doesn’t need, and often these features can create a coding conflict when trying to add custom features and functionalities to the template. Often the cost can be as expensive to “fix” the website later than to engage a company to help build your website from the very beginning.

What is a custom website?

The largest factor that can help decide whether you should consider a template or custom website lies within your business plan. In other words, build with the end goal in mind.  

Here are six things to consider when choosing a custom platform:

  1. Created just for you, it’s your website and your intellectual property.
  2. The code is clean; in some cases, this can also dramatically increase your website load speeds focusing on the core principals of your website and not having any unnecessary coding.
  3. The website can be customized for growth with your business journey in mind.
  4. Little to no limitation, the sky is the limit on what can be done.
  5. You’ll have a personal and dedicated team with years of experience that can help guide you and avoid common pitfalls.
  6. Enhanced SEO capabilities, if your website isn’t ranking properly with Google, then it’s going to make growing your website much more difficult

The cost of sharing limited information with your web development company

A common trend for new website owners is to be so excited about their new project but limiting how much information they are ready to share with the web development company. New website owners have the mindset that their new business idea is revolutionary and that by sharing it, they risk having someone steal it.

Your web development company is there to help you, plain and simple. By not sharing everything, you limit how much influence your web development company can have in helping create and guide your website journey.

It’s better to have a web development company that challenges your ideas, than one who only cares of accepting the status quo and billing hours.

If you have concerns around the confidentially of your business idea, then I’d recommend drafting a proper Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) and having both parties sign it.

What is an NDA?

Thinking of an NDA as a secret a trusted friend once shared with you but sworn to secrecy. However, if you were to share the secret with others, your friend wouldn’t have much of a leg to stand on from a legal standpoint. Well an NDA takes the concept of keeping secrets to the next level by contracting the agreement in words and adding some legal obligation to privacy. A great source for getting your NDA drafted is LawDepot which offers a free NDA document customized for your business in minutes. For any legal advice in regards to NDA, it’s recommended you consult a legal lawyer. 

Determining your technological compatibilities versus that of a proper web development company

As expressed before, when hiring a web development partner, you are hiring a business “technology” partner to your business. Ideally, the web development company will have years of experience building and helping businesses start and grow their websites.

It’s important to ask yourself how much work and time you’ll need to personally dedicate in setting up, customizing and learning the technology.

The trick is, be honest with yourself. If this is not your core business strength, then outsource to a technology partner and focus on what you do well. Trying to do everything just okay to save a little money can have major impacts on your business growth and go-to-market strategy. 

Does your web development company have prior experiences in your industry?

Working with a web development company that understands your industry is crucial. If you hire a company that has never worked in medical, asking them to develop a medical app, rest assured, their web development will come solely from what you ask them to do. Meaning, your web development company will be limited on any creative thinking they could apply towards your industry.

At first, this might seem okay but having a web company understand your industry can save thousands of dollars and valuable time.

For example: At QPSdigital, we have extensive experience working within the automotive industry. We’ve development features for customers they didn’t even know they needed or existed. If possible, it’s important to have a technology partner that knows more about your technology requirements than you do. Imagine the impact this can have your business growth and success.

Who will own the intellectual property; you or your web development company?

Typically, when you’re working on a custom platform, it’s because you want your site to build and tailored for your business idea. Meaning, having the code shared with others and not owning the intellectual property is probably a bad idea.

Most importantly, don’t take it for granted that the intellectual property is yours. Make sure to ask your web development company about intellectual property and to bind the arrangement in writing legally.

In this scenario, I’m not referring to patenting your idea but mostly referring to who owns the code once the project is completed. It’s recommended you consult a legal lawyer for any advice around intellectual property. 

Factor in all the costs of running a successful website

Web development companies have a variety of ways to charge for their services from hourly to fixed. Knowing which cost is best suited for your business is entirely up to you. From our experience, neither matters. What matters is the attention to detail placed by your web development company when planning and building out the project scope. If this process is rushed, it’s a clear indication of how they might rush your website coding. This is a personal red flag.  

Beyond the initial website design and website development, there’s also ongoing cost and fees that need to be considered before starting.

Hosting your website on the internet

Website hosting is a service provided by many companies that allow business owners to post their website on the internet.

In most cases, your website development company will offer an additional monthly or yearly service to help you achieve this. There are hundreds of different ways to do host your website on the web. Most importantly, you need to consider the size of your website, the amount of traffic you’ll have, and the ability to grow your hosting as your website grows.

There are really two common types of hosting, for one, using hosting companies like GoDaddy or Bluehost. These providers offer basic hosting packages which are excellent services for small websites and more commonly used by website templates. Often, business owners will opt-in to a more tailored approach when hosting their custom website solution with Amazon Web Services or Rackspace.

Discuss your options with your web development company and pick a solution that meets your business growth initiatives.

On-going website support

Once your website is live, it’s normal for things to come up like changes to design, bugs and fixes. The initial website launch should match your previously established statement of work. However, as you grow, it’s normal for things to come up. Some web development companies include a certain level of support as part of their hosting plans, while others will charge an hourly rate for any changes. That said, without having a full understanding of what type of revisions a customer might require, it’s hard for web development companies to identify the best on-going website support solution. Typically, going with a quote charged hourly is the safest bet.

That said, some development companies offer even more services to clients removing the digital management of technology. If you require help with more features, then discuss it with your web development company ahead of time and make sure those services are available up front.

Additional charges that might come up

Without being too specific, some common expenses can occur as you grow your website. Here’s a list of more common items that might come up:

  • Email setup
  • SSL certificate
  • VoIP phone number (1.800)
  • Lead generation with Facebook, Google Ads or other services
  • Blog and content creation
  • SEO initial and ongoing strategy
  • 3rd party cost for API integrations

To conclude, choose a web development company that understands your business

Most importantly, your web development team should have an ethical standard and believe in your business ideas. Otherwise, you’re just another project and might never reach the full potential you deserve.

At QPSdigital, we understand businesses and strive to provide clients with the best service possible by challenging our customer’s ideas and being involved in the creative process from start to finish.

Connect with us today for your free consultation at www.qpsdigital.com or complete our online questionnaire.  

We look forward to connecting with you,

Christian Duguay – Owner at QPSdigital

Sales Professional, Entrepreneur and Family Man

6 Things to consider before spending money on a new business idea

When looking at a new business, that be digital or not; there are essential elements any new entrepreneur should consider before starting. It’s great to have ideas – we all have dreams – but what matters most is execution. Try to consider the following before investing any money into your future business.

Start by drafting your new business ideas on to paper

To start with, we say paper, but using Microsoft word is probably one of the most efficient ways to do this. It allows for easy editing and sharing.

The goal for this exercise is to find gaps within your idea and filling in the blanks. If your idea seems simple, you probably haven’t written enough down.

Below are things to consider including in your first draft.

  • Who is your customer?
  • How will your customer learn about your product or service?
  • Is there an actual need in the market for this product or service?
  • How competitive is the market?
  • How will you deliver your products and services?
  • How will you sell your product and services?
  • Most importantly, what is your MVP for this product?

What is your new business MVP?

A minimum viable product (MVP) is the simplest version of a product or service that a business can develop and release to its customers for feedback and testing. As shared by Techtopia, an MVP has three key characteristics to consider:

  • Your MVP has enough value that people are willing to try it and buy it.
  • Your MVP demonstrates enough future benefit to retain early adopters.
  • Your MVP provides a feedback loop to guide future development.

Try focusing on your MVP with the goal of drastically reducing the risk of developing a product that your audience doesn’t want. It’s common for entrepreneurs to pivot their business ideas several times before finding an offer that works and customers are willing to buy. Furthermore, MVPs provide the entrepreneur with the benefits of learning the market, building an early adopters list and receiving valuable feedback needed to guide future development.

In fact, this technique isn’t for everyone, but it still serves as a great principle when looking at any new business idea.

Validate your new business ideas with friends and family

Great, you’ve got your ideas on paper, it’s now time to share with those closest to you.

This one is going to be tough, but here’s what you need to do.

Don’t speak but come ready to listen!

Try to give your audience the chance to read and digest your draft document on their terms. The objective is to have them provide feedback based on their understanding of your new business idea, but more importantly in their own words. Undisturbed feedback is one of the most important aspects to keep the advice received as unbias as possible. You’ll be shocked at how many people won’t understand your idea the same way you do. It’s better to have friends and family give you honest advice over losing a potential client or investor by rushing the process.

A great technique for doing this is providing your family and friends with the document ahead of time and building a simple Google survey. Google form is a free tool and very simple for anyone to complete. Once you’ve received feedback, it’s now time to challenge the views and get a better understanding of why they structured their feedback the way they did.

If done right, you should find yourself going back to the drawing board and coming up with solutions that can overcome concerns identified.

Most importantly, the result could also lead to questioning if this idea is worth perusing. If this happens, don’t feel down; this is a great thing. Wouldn’t you rather know before spending thousands of dollars?

Receiving negative feedback doesn’t mean STOP, but rather, emphasizes the importance of validating your idea through third-party unbiased customers.   

Validate your new business ideas through third-party, unbiased customers

In most cases, family members don’t always have the same entrepreneurial spirit you possess. It means the advice can be taken with a grain of salt but should be used to enhance your offering and serve as preparation for feedback you’ll be receiving from third-party unbiased customers.

Don’t skip this step!

It’s common to receive positive feedback from family and friends; however, are they your target audience? If not, then it’s important to take everything you’ve learned and sought feedback from potential customers or people who have nothing invested in seeing you succeed.

It’s a great opportunity to not only get good feedback but also starting building your early adopters list. Customers who take the time to hear you out, speak with you, and advise are more likely to be your first paying customers. These customers will feel like they have skin in the game and have helped you develop a platform that answers their needs.

Put your new business plan together and bring your ideas to a structured format

Next, it’s time for a business plan to illustrate and structure all the advice you’ve received in a clean and readable format. Overall, a business plan is the most valuable tool any business owner needs to have, regardless of whether your startup has the potential to be a small or large business. The business plan offers a structure that will help bring any product or solution to life. More importantly, it’s the same tool investors, and banks will request when considering investing in your business. Consider the following, Investors and banks are concerned about one thing: return on investment (ROI). Firstly, your business plan needs to help them see how their investment will be distributed; second on what it will be spent on, lastly, how they’ll get it back. The most notable aspects of a business plan are:

  • Executive summary (always written last)
  • Company description
  • Products and Services
  • Marketing strategy
  • Management and operational plan
  • Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats analysis (SWOT)
  • Financial forecasts
  • Exit strategy
  • Appendices

Good news, there are hundreds of online resources to help business owners complete a business plan. The following are suggestions of business plans templates and tools found online:

Studies have proven that entrepreneurs who take the time to develop a proper business plan double their chances for success. It doesn’t mean that entrepreneurs who haven’t completed a business plan won’t succeed, but it does make the journey more difficult.  

An excellent business article on smallbiztrends.com showcases this exact startup trend.

Don’t skip a personal financial plan

Congratulations, it’s time to celebrate the small victories you’ve now completed your business plan and ready to execute.

Before investing any money, have you also considered the financial impact your new business will have on your family and personal finances?

Here’s a better question, how many years do you think it will take before you make money?

New businesses can take upwards of 2-4 years before owners start seeing the fruits of their labour. An article by www.startup.com shows the journey has four-year milestones:

  1. Year one – Everything is a win.
    • Yay, you’re now incorporated.
    • Woohoo, you’ve launched your website.
    • Holy, we got some press about our products and services.
  2. Year Two – Where’s the Money?
  3. Year Three – Product validation
  4. Year Four and Beyond – Finally, this is where the magic starts to happen

Most entrepreneurs think their business will be profitable within a few months; sadly, this is rarely the case. Make a financial plan that will help you survive throughout the journey.

Work with a team that understands the startup journey

There’s not much that can compare to the journey of an entrepreneur. More importantly, emotions will be very high and low; it’s like riding a rollercoaster. That said, once you make it to the other side through hard work and perseverance, nothing will ever compare to the satisfaction and thrill. The feeling of starting something, seeing it come to life and have others engage with it is the best feeling in the world. Remember, the biggest difference between successful entrepreneurs and those who struggle is planning and execution.

Our team at QPSdigital.com is here to help; we help entrepreneurs and business owners bring their ideas to life. Our mission is to help customers bring their dreams to reality by understanding their WANTS and challenging the HOW. Our experienced team offers web development, mobile apps, web design, web hosting and maintenance, quality assurance and project management.

We also offer a free online questionnaire to help identify basic elements to consider for any digital project.

Are you ready? Connect with us today for your free consultation.

Best of luck on your journey!

Christian Duguay

Sales Professional, Entrepreneur and Family Man