Many people decide at some point in their lives to follow their dreams and set up a business.
Whilst the benefits that can come with starting your own business can be outstanding, there are also many things that must be considered before you take the leap. If you want your business to be a success, there are certain pathways you can take in order to make it happen.
Be prepared to make sacrifices, work hard, and consistently improve to create a successful and sustainable business in the first two years.
Offer Something Different
Before you start creating a business plan, it is absolutely essential that you are offering something unique and different from what is already on the market.
Do your market research and make sure that there are people demanding the service or product that you are going to offer. Once you have decided on a basic idea, you must come up with a unique selling proposition that will set you apart from the competition. Otherwise, your business is likely to get lost in a sea of other similar ones.
If you can’t come up with a business idea that will offer a unique solution to market demand, you shouldn’t move on to the next stages just yet.
Setting up your own business is extremely difficult, so if you aren’t passionate about what you’re doing, it will be hellish to be quite honest!
Sacrificing hours and hours of your time, as well as thousands and thousands of pounds, will only lead you to resent the business if you don’t feel really passionate about it and inspired to make it work.
Consider the reasons why you want to set up the business, and if being passionate about it isn’t one of the answers, then it won’t be right for you.
Start With A Clear Business Plan
Once you have a business idea that you feel passionate about, it’s time to create a clear business plan. You need to have an idea about what to expect from your business and creating a business plan is the best way to do that. It is also essential when looking for investors. You must be completely realistic when creating the plan, as going off a ‘best case scenario’ is definitely not the way to go. Provide evidence for every claim you make and calculations for every figure you present. Here is a quick list to give you an idea of what will be involved:
- A summary of the business
- A description of the product/service and what makes it different
- In-depth market research, including SWOT analysis and competitor analysis
- An explanation of the general functioning of the company
- A more in-depth exploration of the supply chain and operational structure
- A complete marketing strategy, including SEO, PPC, social, email, video, and content
- A breakdown of every financial aspect of the business, including projected figures for the next two years
This is just a list to get you started, but each step must be completed in a highly detailed and professional manner. This should take months, if not years, to complete properly. This is the biggest stage in setting up your own business and it could be the make or break moment, so take time to do it right.
Add 10% To Whatever You Think You Need To Save
Your business plan will have a projected amount of money needed to initially start the business; however, it is best to ensure you have at least 10% on top of that.
The plan should include a contingency budget for any issues, yet when you first set the business up, things will always arise that you didn’t realize you needed. Perhaps you need an extra work van, laptops for flexible working, a higher deposit than you anticipated, or more legal costs.
Be sensible and realistic when it comes to your starting figure in order to avoid any major financial issues before the business is even up and running.
Risk Assess Everything To Identify Remedies
Completing a sound risk assessment for your business regularly will ensure you are in a strong position to avoid issues or remedy them if you need to.
Firstly, you’d consider a risk to be anything that could negatively affect any part of the business. This will differ for each industry, so it would be best to do in-depth research into the potential risks in your sector. You will need to consider internal and external risks, how to reduce them, and also how to mitigate them if they do arise. This will not be a quick or easy process and will need to be revisited annually to protect your business in the event of an issue arising.
Knowing how to act when an issue occurs is essential for good and efficient business practice.
Write Everything Down
If you make detailed notes of everything that you do from the very beginning, your life will be much easier in the future.
You don’t want to lose an important password, not know your revenue one month when you need it or forget about a monetary transaction. Write everything down and have a comprehensive filing system in place and you’ll be good to go.
Save Money Wherever Possible
Whilst making cuts that are too significant is an issue, once you have started trading, you may notice an area that doesn’t need quite as much of your budget to be assigned to it.
If you can save money in a particular area, it is worth doing. For example, if you need to buy a commercial property, why not try an auction to find a commercial property for sale rather than paying standard asking prices? Or, use price comparison websites each month to find the best deals on your electric, water, insurance, and internet.
Rather than accepting something as standard industry price, shop around and find the best value options. You could end up with a better service at the end of it! Incorporate time to find better market deals in your business plan and you can set aside any money you save for emergencies whilst your business is still finding its feet.
Provide Incentives For Leaving Reviews
Once you’ve set up your business and it is running, it is time to start working towards building a reputation for it.
Kindly encourage customers to leave a review for your product or service, as this will provide a sense of faith from an outside perspective for potential customers. If your business is e-commerce based, offer a 10% discount off their next purchase or a free delivery code. If you run a restaurant or cafe, offer a drink on the house on their next visit.
Your options are endless here, so make the effort to seek reviews to build a strong reputation for your business.
Venture into Social Media
As discussed in the business plan section, marketing is an essential part of any business. A particularly popular sector is social media marketing, as it can build brand loyalty, improve customer satisfaction, and also increase traffic to your website.
You can build a community around your business that will help it to flourish. As with anything else in business, create a detailed plan of your social media goals and update it regularly to keep up with ever-changing trends.
Experiment with different social media channels and discover what works best for you. For e-commerce businesses, Instagram and Facebook are generally the way to go. If you have started a service-based business, try Linkedin. Of course, these aren’t set rules, as trying channels that you might not think would work could provide a welcome surprise!
Think outside the box and try not to be too salesy. Your first priority should be creating great content for your customers and if you’re successful in doing that, the sales will naturally follow.
Network For Business Advice
One of the best ways to gain insight into how to run a successful business is to meet someone who has one.
There is absolutely no shame in contacting someone you look up to and simply asking if they’d like to meet for a coffee, explaining that you admire their work and would love the opportunity to talk with them for half an hour. This is not only going to be beneficial for you, as even successful business people will always be looking for new insights and directions.
Aim to contact people in your field of work and provide some unique ideas about the industry that will benefit the person you are meeting, too. Be polite, professional, and informative and you never know which opportunities could arise from your networking efforts!
Whilst there are so many different things that contribute to a successful business, this is a good place to start.
The most important thing you need to know is to remember to remain patient. Profitable and successful businesses don’t appear overnight, so give your absolute all for the first two years and you’re likely to reap the benefits after that. Don’t expect running your own business to be easy, but it will be worth it.
In a few years’ time you could be the millionaire that an aspiring business person is contacting, so work hard and don’t give up!