When launching a new idea, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. Our Peoria Forward team has worked with local ecosystem resource providers in the West Valley to create a list of five action steps for entrepreneurs looking to launch a non-profit product, service or business in the Phoenix West Valley.
These action steps are based on the most common mistakes made by new entrepreneurs in the West Valley but can guide any new founders in navigating their entrepreneurial journey.
1.) Do your market research
The West Valley is a fast-growing diverse community with many opportunities, which also means entrepreneurs face a unique set of challenges. Completing comprehensive marketing research about our community allows you to build a business model that thrives in our unique environment.
If you want to dig deeper, explore resources like the Arizona Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) and Reference USA, which are provided free for all AZ residents through the AZ Secretary of State digital library website. If you have questions on traffic flows, the economic development team at the City of Peoria can provide those. Peoria Forward can offer you detailed IBISWorld market research reports if you are looking for in-depth industry analysis (reach out to Peoria.Forward@asu.edu).
Utilize all these tools to gather information, decide what affects your venture and how you can use the information to make intelligent decisions!
If most of your clients will come from people within a physical distance to your business, we call that a local firm. SizeUp AZ is a free tool from APS that provides in-depth information about your local competitors, google trends, and key performance indicators (KPI) for your industry.
2.) Get feedback
To build something right, you need feedback. First ideas are rarely the best; take the time to get feedback and iterate your idea. The more time you spend getting feedback and evolving your idea early, the more likely you will develop a product or service aligned with the customer’s needs and values. A great way to get feedback while connecting with vital resources is attending and presenting at Pitch In. This community-led effort is free and open to everyone.
3.) Build a legal foundation
SCORE, the nation’s largest network of volunteer expert business mentors, has excellent virtual training to answer all of your questions about starting a business in Arizona with common questions around business licensing and legal structures.
Also, make sure to check out the Arizona Commerce Authority Startup Checklist to help drill down specific information based on your industry and location.
The Maricopa Small Business Development Center Network (SBDC) provides advising, training, online courses and resources for businesses throughout the valley. It has a series of self-paced training videos called Put Your Business Idea in Motion. This program covers a variety of foundational questions for small businesses launching in Arizona. Questions on legal formation and licensing can be found in Module 5.
You can enroll in the complete program by signing up for counseling and designating yourself as a “pre-venture.” Counseling through the Small Business Development Center means working directly with a business expert to help guide your development and answer questions. Counseling is free of charge.
4.) Refine your entrepreneurial skills
To start a new enterprise, you need to sharpen your skills and build your knowledge base. More and more tools are available online and are free to explore. If you are new to entrepreneurship, we encourage you to take the time to complete the Kauffman Fasttrack program or Dreambuilders Academy.
If you prefer in-person training, several libraries hold startup programs, including the Glendale Library, Buckeye and the Hive in downtown Phoenix and Peoria Forward holds regular training at the Peoria Libraries, all designed to help you develop a business plan.
If you have already developed your basic skills in building a business and are looking to sharpen your specific marketing and tech skills, the Surprise Techcelerator holds regular training programs.
5.) Find specific resources
If you need a specific tool or resource, meet with a Peoria Forward team member in an informal meeting to learn about the resources available specifically for you. Phoenix has a plethora of maker spaces, incubators and industry-specific expertise available to entrepreneurs. Cut through the resource noise online.
During this 30-minute introduction meeting, our team will ask you general questions to learn more about your vision and what steps you have already taken to turn that vision into a reality. Then together, you will discuss what next steps and resources make the most sense for you.
Leave a community connection meeting with:
- A customized list of local and national resources to help you build your vision
- Personal introductions to fellow local builders, dreamers, artists, and doers
- A clear next step to build your idea into a business through innovative approaches
- As you achieve your “next step,” you can continue to meet with our team until you are ready to connect with a coach, mentor, or resources to support targeted support. We are a flexible resource free of charge, with no memberships, and no requirement to meet again. We are here to be of service to you.
- Do your market research
- Get feedback
- Build a strong foundation
- Refine your entrepreneurial skills
- Find specific resources
This blog is an excerpt from the Peoria Forward Launch email series. The Launch email series includes:
- Receive copies of key reports from a variety of partners with West Valley information, data, demographics, local statistics and the status of the current entrepreneurial ecosystem
- Gain access to on-demand training on how to start a business in Arizona
- Receive curated resources to build your organization
- Gain insight from your fellow entrepreneurs and neighbors on navigating your entrepreneurial journey
- Hear from local mentors, trainers and entrepreneurial resource providers about frequently asked questions and what they want you to know