Over the years, many people have asked me “how do I start a new business?” Although it seems daunting at first, as long as you ensure you have all your ducks in a row, you’ll be surprised how quickly you can get up and running. Follow these eight steps and you’re well on your way to starting your own small business.
Maybe you’ve been holding a business dream in your heart for many years? There are many people just like you, but most don’t ever get around to starting it.
Fear is the biggest factor – how will I get customers? What if I can’t pay my bills? And of course, the ‘f’ word. What if I fail? All these thoughts are very normal. Often the voice inside will come up with a million reasons why it’s all just too hard.
If you really want this, it’s time to stop listening to those voices, logically address everything you’re afraid of, find a solution or plan B and just go for it! Don’t allow your fear to hold you back.
Even though it’s your passion, your dream, your idea, don’t fall into the trap of thinking you know it all. Get out there and share your idea. Ask your Aunty, your friends, your hairdresser, anyone who’ll listen. Get feedback on everything from the idea itself, to the business name, your logo, your messaging and really listen.
If the overwhelming response is that perhaps something needs a rethink, take heed and make changes. If you ask a wide enough network, some of these may be your target market and may be a good reflection of how your product or service will be received on launch.
Watch Youtube videos, do short online courses, talk to seasoned small business owners and learn from their mistakes.
You may think that Socks For Guinea Pigs is a brilliant start-up idea, but if no one has a need for them your business won’t fly. One of the fastest ways to grow your business is to be a solution for someone’s problem.
Whether it’s a service or product, think about what customers or clients need. What problems do they face each day in their personal or professional life? Can you solve this problem for them with your product or service? Research what your target customers need and provide this for them.
So you’re ready to launch your business? Plan to start simply and test the market. Don’t overspend on elaborate extras like display, packaging and features and don’t overcomplicate your services.
Don’t promise what you can’t deliver. It’s far better to offer your customers and clients a great product or service on time, every time, than try to deliver something you can’t fulfil. In time you can value add and increase services.
You need to thoroughly understand the laws surrounding opening a business. It’s essential to abide by government regulations – you could face steep penalties.
Laws apply to forming your business or company, ensuring your accounting system is correct, registration of your business and taxation liabiilties. If you’re planning on employing staff, you must be fully aware and abide by laws pertaining to employers/employment.
If you’re unsure of licencing and laws, talk to a small business accountant.
The importance of a start-up budget can’t be overstated. Begin with a rough calculation of all your costs for start-up and operation and then multiply this by four. There are unexpected business costs everywhere and it’s far better to be prepared than to find yourself in a situation of having nothing left. You may need to get the assistance of a current business-owner or accountant to help you calculate all your costs. Try to think about expenses like premises, marketing, insurance, accounting and supplies. Make sure you also factor in your personal expenses like electricity, medical, food, rent or mortgage payment and calculate the non-negotiable amount you need to survive and the ones you can hold off if necessary.
Plan for the worst case scenario of no money left in either your wallet or the bank. There is a high chance that this could become reality in the early stages of your business. In most cases it takes time to gain traction and you may be confronted with late-paying clients, low-sales weeks/months, unexpected expenses and many other factors. It’s important to have a Plan B – be prepared in case it all goes pear-shaped.
Once you’ve done this, you’ll need to prepare a full business budget. You may find you need to apply for a small business loan to cover initial costs.
If you’re starting a new business, you’ll need loads of time to plan and execute, but you’ll also need money to live on and put into your business. If you have employment and can continue to work while your new business is growing, this will give you much-needed security if the business doesn’t deliver immediately. If part-time work is a better option for you, think about continuing this until your new business income is financially stable.
You’ve put everything in place and you’re raring to go? Get out there and tell the world. Talk to people about your business, promote it wherever you go. You never know where your next customer will come from. It’s often our own lack of self-confidence that stifles our self-promotion but in business, we can’t afford that. Get your elevator pitch ready, know it by heart, practice it and tell everyone! As a new business owner, you’ll need to continually network and share your story.