When getting your new business off the ground it is important to be clear about which steps to take and to get everything in order prior to launch. In this article we have put together some of the key aspects for entrepreneurs to consider for business start-up success.
1. Involve your family
If you have any family members who are interested in business, involving them in the decision to go it alone is important. Your home atmosphere should be very supportive, particularly in the early stages. Your family could also be useful as a sounding board, helping out with the odd task or providing feedback or finance.
If you want to go a step further and get your family helping with the business, here are a couple of quick pointers. Values are key to the running of the business, not least to maintain consistency in how your staff interact and how decisions are made. Having a set of values in place makes it easier to pass them down to the family member or third party that takes over the business.
Agreeing on a corporate strategy and other plans and policies in writing will play a part in diffusing tension and arguments down the line. A leadership structure with clear responsibilities for each staff member provides much-needed guidance. Finally, if there are non-family members in the business, ensure promotions and roles are based on a meritocracy to keep relations among employees harmonious.
Don’t forget work-life balance. Try and prevent shop talk bleeding into family time as far as possible to give yourselves a break from the business, allowing yourselves to have quality time together.
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2. Analyse your personality
You need to ask yourself if you are the right person to start a business. Compile a checklist with the help of the following questions:
- Can you work long hours?
- Can you take criticism?
- Will you be able to cope with financial insecurity?
- If your business struggled in the early stages, would you continue?
Write down the reasons why you are starting a business.
It helps if you’re outstanding at what you do, are able to attract repeat business, have something that only you can bring to the business, can strike great deals and are adept at money management. Read more at 5 winning traits 5 top entrepreneurs all have in common.
3. Make sure your product is a must-have not a nice-have
Once you’ve got an idea you need to know that people will need it enough to want to buy it. Many people opt to begin a business by using a skill that they have acquired in their spare time as a hobby, such as jewellery-making.
4. Your idea doesn’t have to be new
Trying to sell a product that is new can be an uphill struggle. Being first is not always best, as you have to educate a market and convince them of the need for your product. So don’t be put off if your idea has been done before – think about how you can do it differently, by including an additional feature or benefit.
One way that you can test this is by establishing your product or service’s unique selling proposition (USP) to see if it has an edge over your competitors. Alternatively, it could just be something that isn’t available in your local area, such as private physiotherapy.
You can define your USP with the following three tests:
- Does your consumer want your product/service?
- Does your competitor do it better?
- Are your competitors doing just as well as you are?
5. Know your market better than your competitors
Carry out as much market research as possible. Find out about your market place, concentrating on areas such as the demand, your competitors and the size of the market. Talk to potential customers, suppliers, competitors, distributors and ex-employees of competitors.
Once you’ve got your product/service and the market you’re targeting, test, test and test again to ensure that you remain competitive.
Everyone has different motivations for starting a business, and toe-dipping means you can test your idea out without risking everything. You can carry on earning money from your job while you are starting up. Use your spare time to carry out your market research.
In modern parlance, this is a side hustle. Find out how to turn your hobby into a new career.
7. Be honest about your weaknesses
Identify what you do well and what you do badly, dividing it into areas such as financial, marketing, operational and general management. Be honest with yourself, but also be realistic. Try and get someone else to evaluate your answers – another person’s perspective can be very valuable. Identifying your weakness will help you to recognise what you are good at, and which areas you will need to find someone who can do a better job than you.
8. Get a good mentor on board
Remember – two heads are better than one. Seek out the advice of a family friend who has the experience of being in business, or someone who is recommended to you, or someone you are close to. They can provide an experienced objective eye over something that’s very precious to you. Consider giving them a share of the profits or equity in your company in return for advice.
9. Justify every assumption in your business plan
But remember that whatever you write down is not set in stone. Your business plan should have longer-term objectives, estimates and forecasts – try to make as many of your goals as possible measurable. The two most important reasons for having a plan are to show to outsiders if you need to raise money, and to help you keep your business on a planned course, so you can spot when things are not going to plan
10. Keep your business plan succinct
An ideal format for your plan, if you intend it to be for outside use, is to have between three and ten pages of text that draw out the important points, plus a series of financial figures. Excessive detail should be confined to appendices. See our article on Top tips for writing a business plan here.