I know lots and lots of people who have awesome ideas on starting a vegan business, but just don’t know where to start! It’s a daunting experience, as they’ve never done it before. So here are our 6 tips on starting a vegan business.
1) Prepare a Business Plan
A business plan is a written description of your business’s future, a document that tells what you plan to do and how you plan to do it. If you jot down a paragraph on the back of an envelope describing your business strategy, you’ve written a plan, or at least the germ of a plan.
Business plans are inherently strategic. You start here, today, with certain resources and abilities. You want to get to a there, a point in the future (usually three to five years out) at which time your business will have a different set of resources and abilities as well as greater profitability and increased assets. Your plan shows how you will get from here to there.
2) Prepare a Budget
It’s a basic tenet of business – before you can make money you have to figure out how to spend it. Drafting a budget is a key way to help you turn your dreams for business success into reality. Using this vital tool, you can track cash on hand, business expenses, and now much revenue you need to keep your business growing — or at least afloat. By committing these numbers to paper, your chances of succeeding with your business are helped by anticipating future needs, spending, profits and cash flow. It also may let you spot problems before they mushroom, so that you can switch gears.
3) Know your competition
One of the most important, though sometimes elusive, aspects of running a successful business is knowing everything you can about your competition. This runs the full gamut from knowing their branding and marketing tactics to how they compensate employees and manage their business.
There is a lot more to it than simply developing a competitive analysis that reveals who your competition is and what they’re up to. Knowing your competition should be an ongoing, evolving experience, one that can practically put you right next to that proverbial fly on the wall- watching, listening, and absorbing.
4) Appeal to Non-Vegans
We’ve all been here. As non-vegans we’re intrigued by the vegan life, world and passion. Sometimes we get introduced to the “vegan police” who dash any hopes and make it really sound so difficult that we turn around and head the other way. You have opportunities with your services and products to appeal to a wider audience. But don’t shove it down their throat, you’ll turn them away. If we can use our businesses to spread the message in away that doesn’t make people run a mile, we’re doing something right.
There is a growing vegan community that you can market your business to, but there’s an even larger non-vegan one.
5) Start small and expand
You may have heard the term “Lean Startup” recently. Lean Startup is a method for developing businesses and products in a much shorter timeframe, using a combination of hypothesis-drive experimentation and iterative product releases. Rather than getting everything right 100% before you launch, you would launch and test your hypothesis before funding more of the same. Check out Eric Ries’ book The Lean Startup for more information.
6) Love what you do
There is absolutely no point in starting a vegan business that you will be working at many hours a day if you don’t enjoy it! You might be getting paid a gazillion dollars a day, but if you hate getting out of bed it’s not worth it.
Celebrate your achievements. Remember to reward yourself. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed with the stress, and don’t feel like you have to do everything yesterday.
If you have any other tips leave them in the comments below.