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How to Start Your Own Business: A Step-by-Step Guide
Starting your own business can be a great way to take hold of your destiny, maximize your revenue, decide your working hours and choose who you work with. It can however be one of the most stressful ventures of your career! Being your own boss isnít for everyone. Having what it takes to bridge the gap between a good idea and a good business is what separates successful startups from those that fail.
Instant Offices have come up with a few pressing questions to give yourself a reality check along with 14 steps to success.
Start with a Reality Check
1. Do you have what it takes? Becoming an entrepreneur is a lifestyle change that only pays off in the long term. Can you stick it out? Youíll be the last to get paid every month, shoulder uncertainty and put in a lot of time.
2. Is there a genuine need for your business? People pay for things the need to fulfil a need. 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?
3. What can you do better than your competitors? Starting a business in a crowded space makes it hard to succeed. If there are lots of others that are offering the same product/ solution as you, are you able to compete with them or offer something they donít?
4. Can you lead a team? Assembling and managing a team is hard work. You need to be a good motivator, establish open communication, set boundaries and make decisions that can impact others.
5. Have you got a realistic picture of costs involved? When you are in the planning stage and eager to get things off the ground, it can be easy to overestimate sales and underestimate costs. Be realistic and have your business plan double checked by an expert.
6. Are there hidden dependencies? Is there any legislation you need to take in to account? You need to fully understand your salesí channels? Are there any cultural issues or marketing requirements that you need to consider? Ensure you understand how these impact your timeline and overall budget.
How to Start Your Own Business- 14 Steps to Success
If you have done a thorough sense check and are prepared for the challenge of starting your own business, here are 14 tips to get you started:
1. Start with a plan. A business plan is essential to be able to present your idea to potential investors. It is also the guide which will lead all your decisions going forward, including how you fundraise.
A good business plan defines a business idea, spots weaknesses, lays out goals and measures progress.
2. Look at budget versus costs. Determine how much money you have to spend, where it all comes from and whether there is access to reserves if need be. Then, some desktop research should give you a good idea about the general costs involved with developing your product or service.
3. Source investors. Funding is crucial, whether from a bank, your savings, a credit card, grants or investors. Check if you qualify for government backed support and finance for your business. Finance Finder helps with this.
4. Prepare your support system. Setting up a business is emotionally and physically taxing. Make sure your family and close friends are on board and they know how much of yourself you will be putting in to this. It can also help to bounce ideas off people you trust.
5. Give your business an identity. If you donít 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.
6. Get your legal affairs in order. Choose whether you want your business to be sole proprietorship or partnership, an ecommerce company, a non-profit, limited liability company, corporation or something else. Now is also the time to confirm your tax obligations and find out what permits or licenses you will need in order to operate your business.
7. Register your company. Once you have settled on a name, you will need to register your business. If you are thinking of getting a patent, bear in mind they are expensive and sometimes not worth investing in until you are in a more stable position.
8. 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 in close proximity to suppliers, have ample space, be accessible to customers and it has to suit the needs of your business. If you do not need a shop or warehouse, donít put yourself under pressure by committing to a lengthy lease, when flexible office or coworking solutions can offer you more benefits and flexibility, for a fraction of the cost.
9. Insure your business. All of your business assets must be insured, to avoid any financial strain in the event of damage, theft or loss.
10. Put yourself out there. There is no such thing as waiting until your product or business is perfect. By putting your service or product out there for feedback, you will be able to gain valuable insights from your early customer base, and put it to good use improving things.
11. Stay agile. While setting up your business and launching it, itís important to remain flexible. Encourage customer feedback or speak to people within your target audience and use their comments to improve your business. Being willing to make changes, even to your big idea, can be the difference between your business failing or succeeding.
12. Lay the foundation for a positive business culture. Determine the positive characteristics that your business is built on, and intensify your focus on them.
13. Invest in your strengths. You should have noted your USPs already. Play on these strengths and shape the into offers that help distinguish your business from the rest.
14. Ignore the naysayers. A study found that more than half the companies on the 2009 Fortune 500 list were launched during a recession. Recognise that no matter how much good advice you get, at the end of the day you are responsible for your companyís success, so trust that the decisions you make are good ones.