Whether you’re trying to start a “side-hustle” at home or you want to break out of the 9-to-5 to make their own way in the world, more and more people are finding it easier to start their own business. There are plenty rewards, but also quite a few risks, and many of them come right at the start. Getting your business off on the right foot and forgetting one part of the beginning can lead to a much earlier end. So, what goes into starting a business and how do you make sure you start as you mean to go on?
Of course, in order to run a business, you have to have something to offer the market. A product or a service. But before you run with your idea, you need to test it from every angle. What market does it appeal to? Does it have competition? How does it set itself apart? Using a market research company can help you find a lot of answers to the question of whether the idea will hold its own, or whether you need to go back to the drawing board. If you can’t find sufficient evidence that your idea is likely to have support when well-executed, then the business could be unnecessarily risky.
One of the reasons it can be risky is because of the real investment involved. Even if you start a business at home, your expenses might be reduced a great deal, but you will still have them. Whether you need equipment, office space, staff, software, or a marketing push, funding can be essential in helping you purchase them. Many will start their business from their own savings, but there are investment options to consider, too. Banks don’t normally make business loans to brand new startups, but angel investors and venture capitalists might. What’s more, there is funding available for small businesses in the form of grants, so do plenty of digging around for the funding you need.
How do you know how much funding you need? How do you know what the day-to-day of running the business is going to look like or whether you’re making progress in the right direction? Because you have the business plan to follow. A business plan is exactly how it sounds, a close, detailed look at how the business will run, how it will seek profit, and what goals you can set for yourself to ensure you’re on the right track. Take the time to create a business plan. It does more than give you a track to follow, it’s also essential if you’re seeking any investment capital from others. They want to know how you plan to make their investment back, after all.
The serious business
When it comes time to actually start the business, it’s not as simple as declaring that your doors are open. There’s some paperwork and red tape involved. You need to decide what kind of entity your body will be. Working as a sole trader can be simpler, but you are also more liable to risk, and it can harder to keep personal and business finances separate. Starting a corporation can reduce your personal risk, somewhat, and make it easier to separate the personal from the business. Using a company formation agent can help new business owners understand and streamline the whole process a lot better. Beyond the documentation, there’s the step of setting up a site, a business address and much else to do, so having a helping hand can stop you from having to delay your grand opening too much.
You know what you’re offering, who you’re offering it to, and how you intend to profit from it. That’s the beginnings of how you run the company internally, but what about externally? Good products and services aren’t enough, you need the brand to communicate them effectively to your market. A good name, logo, and visual design will help distinguish you amongst the competition, but the strongest aspect of your brand is the brand messaging. What is your unique selling point and how do you express it in a way that best gets it across to your market and their needs? How do you plan on marketing and spreading brand awareness? Know where to market, how to reach the most relevant people, and, in particular, learn the language they would use to describe your services. Having that meeting of the minds, and the click of shared language can make it a lot easier to get across what you’re actually offering.
Making sure you’re ready for the day-to-day task of running the business is as important as anything else. There are a few skills you need to start mastering, in particular. Even if you hire an accountant, you need your own sense of financial responsibility and bookkeeping. Using accounting software can make it a lot easier. Time-management and task prioritisation is just as important, too. Learn how to create sets of objectives for each work day, to set out longer-term goals, and how to schedule out your time so you know how much time you’re spending on each task. A business or management course can help you get a much more practical idea of what the daily grind is actually going to feel like.
There are a lot of legal issues a small business should know about, which we’re not going to be able to fully clear up, here. You have to do your own research on tax laws, employment laws, intellectual property, insurance, and even digital marketing regulations. There are legal guides on the net that can more thoroughly guide you. This isn’t a step to be skipped or skimmed over, your company can dissolve in an instant if you fail to be compliant with the law.
There are many challenges to face ahead, and a great start doesn’t always necessarily mean having a great business. But a bad start will most certainly mean you have a tougher time of it, so make sure you’re prepared and you know what you need before you set off on this rather big endeavour.