Starting your own business can be a scary prospect. Adopting a methodical approach will give your fledgling business firm foundations from which to operate. Below are some steps that you should consider when starting your new business.
- What is your market? Do your homework
It can’t be more emphatically stressed; do your homework and thoroughly research the market you are entering. Market research is one of the most valuable things you can do for your business. You will need to consider the size of the market and how you will gain access to it. Potential stakeholders will also want to know the state of the market and its predicted growth to see whether it is worth investing time, capital and effort.
- Make use of your contacts and network
Start making contact with businesses you plan to use a suppliers, manufacturers, and retailers – everyone you need to make your business work. Harvest quotes, negotiate and meet with different people to identify which companies will suit you and your business best. A startup business is always about sales. Everyone in the company has to do their bit, even the more technical team members. You don’t have a business if you don’t have any customers. That is why it is worth networking, it helps you think of & structure a concise explanation about your start-up and it is also a useful way of testing the market and receiving feedback.
- Set up a website and enter the world of social media
Establishing a website is a good way to get your business off the ground. You can use it to connect with and explore your market and it’s also a way of testing demand for your product/service before investing huge amounts of money and time. Having a website is also a good PR tool when you’re telling people about your business – even just a couple of pages can provide the kind of details you may not have time to explain when networking. Technology is moving fast and becoming so user friendly that you don’t need any special programming experience to set up a website either, sites such as Moonfruit for example and other similar sites allow you to easily design and launch your own site.
- Manage your cash flow
Even if you are a tech start-up with a high burn rate you still need cash. The key is being organised. You could get accounting software, and ensure everything is logged correctly. There are a number of small tech-finance businesses that can help startups with cash flow solutions e.g. crowdfunding, peer-to-peer lending and invoice finance. Another thing to consider is how will you pay yourself? You need to work out how much you need to live on and include that in your outgoings too.
In an ideal world you would have enough money to self-fund the launch of your new business. But, for the majority, that’s not an option. Instead you can sponge-off/ask friends or family if they may be willing to help or you can look into getting a bank loan or seek out an investor. You should also look into what business grants are available: they’re hard to come by but brilliant if you manage to get one. In order to secure funding for your fledgling start-up a business plan is the all-important weapon you need in your armoury, without one you will literally be laughed out of the bank manager’s office. There are alternatives to traditional bank lending products – variety of next generation finance firms that can help start-ups and SMEs raise working capital finance, overcome cash flow problems and late payments, allowing businesses to grow. Examples include invoice finance, crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending.
- Business Plan
A business plan is integral to advancing your company. The planning process itself is worth the time and effort, as it will teach you about your business and the opportunity laid before you. Business plans are decision-making tools. There is no fixed content for a business plan; it is all subject to goals and audience. A business plan represents all aspects of the planning process; declaring vision and strategy alongside sub-plans to cover marketing, finance, operations, human resources and legal plan when required. Externally focussed business plans target goals that are important to external stakeholders, particularly financial stakeholders. They also contain detailed information about the team and company. A bank won’t look twice at a loan application if you don’t have a business plan.
- Ways of Raising Finance for Start-ups (thestartupmag.com)
- Q&A Session with 3Desk founders, Tom Savage and Razvan Dinu (thestartupmag.com)
- 5 Cost Effective ways to market your business (thestartupmag.com)