Starting your own business can be a very exciting prospect. Perhaps you are retired and looking to earn a little more cash. Perhaps you want to make some money alongside your regular job. Or perhaps you simply enjoy a challenge and the thought of calling the shots and having more control over your life.
Whatever your reasons for wanting to start a business, it’s important that you take the time to really do your research beforehand. Roughly 20% of small businesses fail in their first year. Some fail because they run out of funds, others – because the market has no need for the services or goods they offer.
This article will walk you through some crucial advice to help you avoid common pitfalls encountered by small businesses and save you time and money. Read on to learn our top tips for starting and succeeding in your very own start-up!
Before Starting Your Business
Before you’ve even opened your doors, there are some crucial steps you must take to guarantee a successful launch. You want to make sure that your business fills some sort of need in the market, whether you’re selling goods that no one else is providing or a unique service.
This section will discuss how you should plan for your start-up and what sort of ideas you should consider before starting your business.
Decide What Your Business Will Be
This may seem like an obvious first step, but it’s important that you start with a really solid idea of what sort of company you would like to run. You will want to make sure that your business idea addresses a gap in the current market. This is crucial for your success as a business.
You may offer excellent services at competitive pricing, backed by a limitless pool of resources — but if no one is interested in what you have to offer, your company will still fail.
If you’re not sure what kind of business you are interested in running, here are some examples to help you start brainstorming:
- Financial planning and bookkeeping
- Copywriting services
- Graphic design services
- House cleaning
This is not an exhaustive list. But hopefully, these suggestions will help you generate a few ideas of your own.
When trying to decide on an idea, be honest with yourself about what you are likely to achieve. Consider what problems your start-up may encounter, not just the benefits of the idea. Finally, consider the values of your business, and try to reflect these in your company name.
Research Your Customer Base
Once you’ve decided on a business idea, your next step should be to thoroughly research your potential customer base. To create a successful business, you first have to understand the demographic your start-up appeals to. In order to draw customers in, you first have to understand their needs and buying habits. To get a better sense of what your potential clients are after, see what your competitors are doing and chat with similar small businesses to get ideas.
In this day and age, online marketing is a crucial part of sales. Make sure that, when you’re doing your research, you pay special attention to the websites of competing businesses. Look at what kind of presence they’ve established on social media and what type of online relationship they have with their customers.
With this knowledge under your belt, you’ll have a better idea of how to appeal to your target audience.
Build a Clientele Base
Your business won’t get very far without customers. This is why it’s so crucial to connect with people and encourage loyalty in your clients.
Great customer service is essential when trying to build a loyal customer base. If you are rude, standoffish, and unhelpful, people are less likely to return to your business regardless of how good your products or services are. On the other hand, if you are friendly, communicative, and eager to help, your clients are far more likely to return.
Obviously, communication is a key part of this. You will need a way to keep in touch with your clients that is reliable and convenient for you. Some people use email, others use landline or cell phone numbers; online phone numbers are another popular method these days.
You may wonder: Is it easy to set up an online phone number? And can I change my online cell phone number if I have to? The answer to both of these questions is yes. The flexible, user-friendly nature of online phone numbers is what makes them such a well-liked choice.
Consider Your Company’s Operational Needs
Starting your own company can be very exciting, but it’s important not to get so swept up in the thrill that you don’t think about the practicalities. In order to operate a start-up efficiently, you’ll need to think long and hard beforehand about how you want to run your company.
For example, will you be accepting card payments at your business? Will you generate and send invoices to your clients? Who will be in charge of running your website and social media? If your business will deliver good to your customers, how will you do so? How will you ensure there is a reliable customer support system in place for your clients? And, perhaps the most important question of all: how much will all of this cost?
Make sure that you have thoroughly considered the operational needs of your business before jumping into the deep end.
Make a Plan
Once you have dutifully weighed all of the above, it is time for you to put together a plan for your business. Even if your company is a small operation, one without investors or a large amount of capital backing it up, you still need to decide on your business goals before you start.
As your business develops and grows, so will your plan, so don’t expect it to always remain the same. Think of the plan not as something rigid and inflexible but rather as an ever-changing guide that will help point you in the right direction.
Getting Your Business Up and Running
Once you’ve done your research, it’s time to make your brand new company official and get started! It’s crucial that you set off on the right foot, so make sure to consider all your options carefully at this very early stage.
This section will explain how to get your company off the ground, giving you some useful tips to help along the way.
Register Your Business
When you’ve done your research and have put together a solid business plan, it’s finally time to register your business. The steps you’ll have to follow vary depending on your business structure and where you are in the world. Generally speaking, all you’ll have to do is register your brand name with the state and local government authorities.
Once your company is registered, you can then progress under your brand name — but there are a couple more steps to complete before you can open for business. You’ll need to make sure you have all the licences you need for opening. These might include businesses operating in the fields of health, liquor, or food, and permissions will depend on what kinds of services or goods you’re providing.
To open a new bank account for your business and to make sure that the relevant tax agency can keep track of your company’s transactions, you will also need to obtain a tax ID number.
Once you’ve completed these steps, you can finally establish your office and put together your website.
Don’t take any unnecessary risks with your business, especially when you’re only starting it out. It’s a far better idea to build your company slowly, taking controlled risks and trying out new ideas on a smaller scale before developing them.
In the beginning, consider self-funding if you can. Self-financing means you have total control over your business and don’t have to worry about securing the approval of investors and financiers to make decisions for your company. What’s more, self-funding can often strengthen future applications for business loans.
In any case, start-ups are often not eligible for business loans anyway; you may have no other choice but to self-finance. Some self-funding options you could consider are:
- Using your personal savings
- Using a credit card
- Asking family and friends to help with initial costs
If none of these options suit you, another option would be to look into the possibility of getting a business grant.
Think About Insuring Your Business
Starting a business represents a great investment of time, money, and energy on your part. Understandably, you want to do all that you can to make sure you protect it. The best way to do this is through business insurance, of which there are several different kinds:
- Commercial property insurance
- Employers’ liability insurance
- Public liability insurance
- Product liability insurance
- Data breach coverage
- Business income insurance
There are other kinds of insurance out there that are well worth looking into. But this list is a place to start. This type of protection means you have one less thing to worry about when you’re getting your company off the ground. If any mistakes or mishaps were to occur, you can rest assured knowing that your business is well-protected.
Start Growing Your Business
Once you’ve established your company, it’s time to grow it. This can feel quite daunting in the beginning, especially if you’ve never embarked on something like this before. It’s important to understand long before you reach this stage that building a business requires a lot of time, a lot of money, and a lot of motivation. On top of that, you need a solid marketing plan to make sure you’re getting enough customers.
This section will give you some tips to get started growing your business.
Establish a Strong Online Presence
It’s important to build a strong online presence for your company. The world is becoming increasingly digitized. So, more people are spending more time on social media or browsing the web, so the best way to get people’s attention is through the internet.
At the very minimum, you must have a professional website, an email address, and a presence on social media. Customers are likely to look you up online before visiting your company in person. Having an established presence online will help them get a sense of what your company is like, what your values are, and whether or not people are interested in your business.
By developing your brand online, you stand a good chance of being able to attract and retain the attention of your key demographic.
A final thing to keep in mind is that you should stay open-minded throughout this journey. Trends change, and sometimes what works for a business one year won’t work the next year, or a few years later. Rather than falling into complacency, keep an active interest in your industry and make sure to take customers’ suggestions seriously.
As exciting as it can be to start a new business, the entire process can also be extremely daunting and stressful. It can be difficult to know how to get started, and it’s not always easy to know what will guarantee your success in the long term.
This article has given you a few tips to help you get started making your business. Running a company is a learning process. So, even when you have one up and running, you should always keep researching current trends in the market. But if you follow the advice laid out in this article, you are sure to start on solid footing. Good luck!