Starting your own business is one of the most challenging but rewarding experiences you’ll ever embark on. While there is no way to eliminate all the risks involved, careful planning and research can improve your chances of success.
The following tips will give you an overview of what’s involved in starting out on your own, and the issues you’ll need to address:
1. Assess your skills
Firstly, do you have all the necessary skills to run a successful business? Being a self-starter goes without saying, but do you have the drive, determination, initiative, motivation and mental and physical energy to start a business? You’ll need to be a good communicator and manager, as well as creative, flexible and able to plan and make decisions under pressure.
- Research the market
It may be your passion or hobby but is it a viable business proposition? Find out all there is to know about your market before taking the huge step of implementing your business idea. Your market research should cover the size of the market, the demand for your products/services, and your likely competitors.
- Create a winning business plan
A good business plan is pivotal to obtaining finance and will help you to focus on where you want your business to go and how you’re going to get there. It should include a description of your business and management team, information on your products/services, revenue projections and financial requirements, and marketing and operational plans.
- Take advice
Always seek advice, guidance and support in all aspects of your business – from the initial concept and business planning, to ongoing development and beyond. This will also help you to look at your business objectively, which can be difficult when you are so closely involved.
- Know the law
Make sure you understand the legal intricacies of starting and running a business, including VAT registration, the legal requirements for your type of business (e.g. sole trader, limited company, partnership), partnership contracts, health and safety, and employment law.
- Identify the best finance options
Once you’ve calculated how much money you need to start and run your business, it’s best to shop around to ensure you find the best finance options available to you. This could be funds from business partners or investors, a bank loan or overdraft, or you may be able to borrow from friends and family. Work out what’s best – and safest – for you.
- Formulate a sales strategy
Think about the product or service you are selling and how you are going to package and present it. Decide on the most cost effective sales channels to reach your target market – personal contact (e.g. direct selling, retail), telesales, direct mail or the internet. Ensure that you build up a profile of who your customers are and what they want.
- Keep on top of bookkeeping
The paper chase can be incredible when first starting out in business, but it pays to keep on top of it all. Many small business owners end up managing the accounts themselves, especially when first starting out. For this reason it’s essential that you find an accountant that you can trust, and who can advise you on the financial aspects of running a business.
9. Recruit the right staff
When you’re ready to recruit staff, identify the areas of the business where you’ll need help and expertise. Can you afford to employ staff with the relevant experience? Enhance your offering by drawing attention to the breadth of experience an employee will gain working for a start up, as well as opportunities to grow with the company.
- Find the right location
The decision on where you base your business needs to be carefully considered, taking into account costs, competition and accessibility for staff and clients. Also consider the kind of image you wish to convey with your business premises. Do you need to attract passing trade in a busy area or is it more important to have cheaper or larger premises in a less prominent area?