How to Start Your Own Business: A Step-by-Step Guide
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Starting your own business can be a great way to maximize your revenue, decide your own working hours and choose your co-workers. As dreamy as this sounds to start your own business, it can be one of the most stressful projects you’ve ever set out to accomplish. Being your own boss isn’t for everyone.
With this in mind, consider the questions below to give you a reality check, along with 14 steps for success:
Is starting a business for you?
- Do you have what it takes? Becoming an entrepreneur is a lifestyle change that only pays off in the long term. You’ll be the last to get paid every month. Is this something you can stick out?
- Is there a genuine need for your business? People pay for things they need to fulfill a desire. Do the people who need your product have the money to spend? Is there an opportunity in the market that can be backed up with analysis and data? You need to really look to see if there is a demand for your business.
- What can you do better than your competitors? Starting a business in a crowded space makes it difficult to succeed. If there are others offering the same product or solution as you, you need to be able to offer something they don’t.
- Can you lead a team? Your management skills need to be impeccable. You might be talented in the business you are setting up, but can you also be a good motivator? You have to be able to establish open communication, set boundaries and make decisions that can impact others.
- Have you got a realistic picture of costs involved? When you are in the planning stage and are keen to get things off the ground, it can be easy to overestimate sales and underestimate costs.
- Are there hidden dependencies? There might be legislation that you need to take account of. Check if there any cultural issues or marketing requirements that you need to consider if your business will be abroad. Confirm you understand how these impact your timeline and overall budget.
How to start your own business
If you have performed a detailed sense check and are ready to start your own business, here are 14 tips to get you started:
- Start with a plan. A business plan is vital to be able to present your idea to potential investors. A good business plan defines your idea, spots weaknesses, lays out goals and measures progress.
- Look at budget versus costs. Regulate how much money you have to spend, where it all comes from and whether there is access to reserves. Then, some desktop research should give you a good idea about the general costs involved with developing your product or service.
- Source investors. Funding is crucial. Check if you qualify for government backed support and finance for your business. Finance Finder helps with this.
- Prepare your support system. Setting up a business is emotionally and physically demanding. Make sure your family and close friends are on board and they know how much of yourself you will be putting in to this.
- Give your business an identity. If you don’t already have a name, now is the time to choose one. It is also a good idea to start giving your brand identity some thought, or to hire someone to develop a basic one for you.
- Get your legal affairs in order. Choose whether you want your business to be a sole proprietorship or partnership, an ecommerce company, a non-profit, limited liability company or corporation. It is also the time to confirm your tax duties and find out what permits you will need in order to operate your business.
- Register your company. Once you have settled on a name, you will need to register your business. It’s wise not to get a patent unless you really need to, as they are very expensive.
- Save money with a flexible office. There are lots of factors to take into account when choosing a location for your business. It has to be close enough to suppliers, have sufficient space, be accessible to customers and it has to suit the needs of your business. If you do not need a shop or warehouse, don’t put yourself under pressure by committing to an extensive lease, when flexible office or coworking solutions can offer you more benefits and flexibility, for a fraction of the cost.
- Insure your business. All of your business assets must be insured, to avoid any financial tension in the event of damage, theft or loss.
- Put yourself out there. Don’t wait for your product or business to be “perfect.” There is no such thing. By putting your service or product out there for feedback, you will be able to gain valuable insights from your early customer base in order to improve.
- Stay agile. While setting up your business and launching it, it’s important to remain flexible. Speak to people within your target audience and use their comments to improve your business. Be willing to make changes, even if you think your idea is perfect, as that can be the difference between your business failing or succeeding.
- Lay the foundation for a positive business culture. Determine the positive characteristics that your business is built on, and strengthen your focus on them.
- Invest in your strengths. You should have noted your USPs (unique selling points) already. Play on these selling points and shape them into offers that help distinguish your business from the rest.
- Ignore the pessimists. A study found that more than half the companies on the 2009 Fortune 500 list were launched during a recession. Recognize that no matter how much good advice you get, at the end of the day, you are responsible for your company’s success, so trust that the decisions you make are good ones.