So you’re thinking of starting a business and have a bunch of ideas buzzing around in your head, but what steps should you take first? Well, there’s no right or wrong way to start a business but here are my 5 Steps to Starting a New Business.
You’ve probably already spent months (possibly years) dreaming about starting your own business and becoming self-employed yet you still haven’t made a start. Once you’ve got the itch it won’t go away until you’ve scratched it and you’ll never know unless you try. This is possibly the most important hurdle to get over. It doesn’t have to be perfect but you must commit to making a start and doing something. Today if you can. The excuses end now!
2. Write it down
Once you’ve decided that you’re really going to give it a go this time, write down some clear goals. You need to define what success will look like to you after 6months or 12months. Then, when you hit these important goals and milestones you can give yourself a little treat. Lots of people will tell you to write a business plan but not everyone needs one and some of Europe’s top tech start-up investors (like Stefan Glaenzer) won’t even look at one. All they want to see is a one-page summary of the business idea, the problem it is solving and the people involved. If you do feel more comfortable with a ‘proper document’ make it easy for yourself and think of it as a Project Plan which gives you clear steps to follow over the next 12 months.
3. Do your homework
Many people, particularly business professionals, will emphasize the need for doing thorough market research. You’ve probably already done some informal research in the past or are going off personal experience and a gut feeling that there’s a need for your business but doing some online or face-to-face surveys may give you more confidence to proceed. You may also need to present detailed ‘evidence’ to a bank or lender to convince them to give you a business loan or overdraft. However, be careful of whom you survey and the questions you ask as the results may be positively skewed from the outset. The best type of research is to find a small number of customer / clients who will commit to trying your products or services, even though they’re not perfect and working with you to develop them over time. Best of all is if you can persuade them to pay you something from the outset – there’s nothing better than a real-life paying customer!
4. Talk it up
One of the things that we Brits aren’t very good at in comparison to our US counterparts is talking about ourselves and saying how great we are. However, this is something you will need to get over if you do decide to go self-employed. Whether it’s pitching for work or networking with other start-up founders you need to get into the habit of talking about yourself and your business in positive and enthusiastic tones. The more you do it the better you will become so a good idea is to hang out with other business owners in a friendly and supportive environment, like the excellent 4Networking breakfast networking events which take place up and down the country. You never know who you might meet who could become one of your biggest customers, clients or supporters. Meeting and discussing things with others is also a great way to inspire yourself and make your own ideas even better.
5. Enjoy yourself
Starting a business is one of the hardest things you can do and is likely to mean working longer hours, having less sleep and a much more stressful life (for the short time at least). However, you knew that right? Plus, the rewards in financial or personal satisfaction terms could be huge if you get things right. Even if things don’t work out, life is for living and it’s often the journey that is the most enjoyable part of any new venture. So, once you set out on the path of self-employment, make sure to take time out every now and then to have fun, let loose and really enjoy yourself. You’re the boss now so you call the shots about what hours you work, at what time and from where. It’s your business and your life so now’s your chance to live it the way you want to!