To start a business is the dream of many. They’re fuelled by the desire to be their own boss and aren’t afraid of hard work or taking risks. Creativity is an essential aspect of entrepreneurship, but it must be supported by left-brained reasoning and planning. Getting seen and heard above the noise of competitive marketplaces, having enough money to get started, navigating the sea of social media and keeping up with industry news are all fierce challenges that can put off even the most tenacious person. While there may be no end to the various tips to start a business, we’ve compiled the essentials.
Make sure you have a solid product or service
It might sound like one of the most obvious tips to start a business, but without a viable product or service there is no start-up. Your product might still be in the development phase when you start your business or you might be ready to start selling it. Make sure you have a product or service with a unique selling point (USP) – something it can offer your customers that no other product or service on the market can – that you know inside out and have a deep faith in.
Get a stellar team together
One of the most important features potential investors look for is the quality and ability of your team. You might have the best business idea on the planet with impressive market potential, but without a strong and compatible team with complementary skills, that business idea will stay just that – an idea. When you start a business, the first year will most likely see you working long hours alongside your business partners. If you don’t work well as a team, despite impressive individual CVs, the business won’t be able to flourish.
Determine your cash flow and sales projections
Just as important as a strong team, is a sound financial plan. Many start-ups won’t turn a profit in the first year, so you’ll need to rely on funding. Whether this comes from one of your partners’ personal savings, a loan or an investor, you need to outline exactly what you need money for and where you’re going to get it from. Monthly cash flow projections for the first few years of your business are essential to give you this information. Even though these figures are estimates (you never know what’s really going to happen in the future) they’re vital nonetheless.
Write a detailed business plan
Your business plan might be one of the hardest tasks you complete when starting your business. It’s crucial not only for investors, but for you as business owner and for any future employees or partners too. Would you co-found a business if your potential partner had no idea about where they wanted the business to go? Outlined in it will be a business model (how you’re going to make money), a detailed description of your product, cash flow and sales projections, capital requirements, market potential, a Strength Weakness Opportunity Threats (SWOT) analysis and details about the team.
Develop a marketing strategy
To ensure your product or service reaches the people who need it, you need a marketing strategy in place. The four Ps of marketing: product, price, place and promotion, outline the key aspects of your marketing plan. Design a product; price it according to both the forces of supply and demand in your chosen market area and what your customer base is willing to pay; choose where you want to sell this product and finally, determine how you’re going to promote your product to your customers. As with any marketing strategy, it’s crucial to conduct thorough market research about your target customer base.
Create a strong online presence to interact and form relationships with customers
Building brand equity runs parallel to, and forms part of, both your online marketing efforts and your overall marketing strategy. Nowadays it’s not just an option to create a magnetic online presence, it’s a requirement. A decade ago, an online presence meant a static webpage. Today it means a dynamic website with a blog and links to several social media platforms – platforms you need to invest time in managing. This might fill you with dread, imagining the hours you’ll need to spend becoming proficient at and then managing these social media accounts, but social networks have allowed business to form personal relationships with the people who guarantee the longevity of their businesses. Thanks to SEO, brands no longer need to force their marketing messages on exasperated customers – instead, the customers come to them through their internet searches.
If you want to start a business and need advice about managing that all-important online presence, contact Sage Online Tools