This year at MSU, Mankato I signed up to participate in the Integrated Business Experience (IBE) in the College of Business. It is an exclusive program where a limited number of students are selected by faculty to launch and operate their own business and have it count towards college credits. It’s a unique program Mankato offers and that is recognized nationwide as a fabulous course for students to learn what it is like to own their own business. From which, I’ve learned several tips that may prove beneficial to your business ideas.
This past spring semester had a record-breaking enrollment for the IBE, so our class was split into two different companies. The practicum was completely autonomous and with no instruction, “Northern Standard” (pictured above) and “MN State of Mind” were born. I was the elected Vice President of our student-run company, Northern Standard and it was not an easy journey. We as a group decided on everything from how to run meetings, marketing schemes, management strategies, financial policies and sales tactics. We concluded our business successfully by grossing nearly $7,000 in only 2 ½ months of selling, and donated all of our profits totaling $2,154 to Mending Spirits Animal Rescue in Mankato. Here is a brief list of suggestions on getting started –
1. Create a Business Plan
This is the most important document when it comes to the funding of your business loan. Investors will intensely judge you based on the content of this document. My personal rule of thumb is that if your entire company’s business plan is under 30 pages or full of spelling and grammatical errors, there is plenty of room for improvement.
2. Create a Marketing Plan
Write about more than just advertisements – product, price, place, promotion, atmosphere, distribution, markups, sales tactics, etc. are things to include here. Typically strategic marketing plans are extended to cover the upcoming 5 years of marketing efforts and plans.
3. Register with the Secretary of State
You’ll need some documents if you plan on opening a business account such as Articles of Incorporation/Organization, Meeting Minutes and etc. Every state is different so there is no such thing as an unconditional solution, however if you plan on opening one in Minnesota, I’ve included a helpful link from the MN Secretary Of State. http://www.sos.state.mn.us/business-liens/start-a-business. Ask a Member Service Representative at Ideal Credit Union for more information about business accounts.
4. Make Contracts for Everything
Overall contracts are solely the most vital documents for your company. When it comes to legal, ethical or basically any aspect of your company’s operations – contracts are the focal point for answers in a Court of Law.
If you have a third party performing work with your company, assure that there are contracts approved and signed by both parties so that if a task was not performed exactly as desired, then it can be easily resolved through examination of the contract between both parties; and could avoid taking the situation to a Court of Law.
5. Establish an Inventory Management System
Knowing what is happening to your inventory and sales tracking is a fundamental portion of business. In my experience this can also be extremely difficult to do if it is not clearly planned out. My recommendation is to turn this system into a process that is consistent. Most importantly, utilize a system that will work for you by making your customers happy and increase company profitability.
6. Take Excellent Notes
Record everything! Create an effective note taking strategy and stay organized to get the most out of everything you do as a company.