You may be mulling over starting your own business. Don’t! At least not until you consider these key questions and know exactly how you will answer them. I wish I’d done that before I founded LullabySitters.com. It would have saved me a ton of energy, time and money.

Who will you market to?

You should always know exactly who your customers are.  However, you also need to use that knowledge of who they are to market to them.  Something I wasn’t prepared for was the fact that we actually had two different LullabySitters.com customer groups (parents and sitters).  These groups each have widely varying attitudes, communication preferences and commitment behaviors.  That meant we needed two different, targeted marketing plans that used very distinct tactics.

A lumped together marketing plan that used the same tactics for both groups just wasn’t working.  Recognizing that and creating different plans of action for each group and using different vehicles to reach them helped us gain needed traction.  It’s really helped with signing up parents for our services and recruiting new sitters to our website.

How will you protect yourself and your company?

Don’t cut financial corners that will leave you or your company exposed.  Pay the money up front to get expert opinions!

Hire an attorney for general legal advice and to determine if you need legal disclaimers or trademarks put into place. This is an investment that is worth every single penny. You don’t want to put all this time and money into your idea and then have someone else come in and take advantage or steal your taglines, business name, business plan or other key components.

Also, don’t forget to call a reputable insurance agent.  Invest in insurance policies, if needed, to protect the company from liabilities or claims.

You can’t go wrong creating safety nets for your business and ideas.

Do you have the stomach to switch directions when needed?

You will put hours, a lot of money and hard work into your new business. Sometimes that’s not enough and you have to swallow your pride and admit things just aren’t working.  You have two choices, continue down your original path or make significant changes.

Starting over can be no fun, but it may be necessary to scrap your original ideas and plans and start fresh.  I had to do that when it came to my company website.

LullabySitters.com is in its third version because we had to respond to what users wanted.  That wasn’t necessarily on my radar OR in my budget.  But, I had to eventually decide to switch gears and realize it only made sense to move forward in a different direction.  I am incredibly happy with and proud of the latest version and how it serves both parents and sitters.  Best decision ever!  However, it took some guts to do something different than I had planned…and find the money to do it. 

Who will you listen to?

My last piece of advice would be to listen to outside opinions but also keep your focus on the core mission and vision of your business.  Don’t let others distract you!

You are likely asking people to change how they view or buy something. I like the quote from Henry Ford that said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

Change is difficult for a lot of people and they may loudly speak out against it or comment on what you are doing with your new business. They may not see your vision now.  However, change and your new approach is ultimately what they want and need. You are trying to solve a problem they may not even know they want fixed! The balance of your solution to that problem and the room for improvement that exists in that situation can make for great success.

Marie Maher is the founder of LullabySitters.com.

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