So you’ve finally decided to take the leap and start your first business. Congratulations! This is a step that not many budding entrepreneurs actually take; making the jump from conceptualising a business to actually making it a reality can be extremely daunting and difficult, so many people just allow their business ideas to become pipe dreams that are never fulfilled. As such, you’ve already taken an important first step, but there’s much more to be done if you want to ensure your business is successful. Here are 10 tips for starting your very first business.
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1. Create a bulletproof business plan
Your business plan is the document that you’ll use for everything from securing funding to keeping shareholders happy (if and when you reach that point). As such, making sure it’s as foolproof as possible right from the outset is a good idea. If there are flaws in your business plan, then it essentially means there are flaws in your business as a whole, and naturally, you will want to stamp those flaws out. Work hard on making a business plan that outlines your path to profitability and your methodology.
2. Figure out your funding path
Funding for a business is critical, and so acquiring it early – or, at the very least, knowing how you’re going to do so – is essential. Many governments will provide small business loans, so this is a good place to start, and you could also look into angel investment or venture capital as potential ways to accrue some funding. If these options aren’t open to you, then you could even think about personally funding your business; a £3000 loan could help you to pay for premises, overheads, and other expenses early on, for example.
3. Build a brand
Your branding is at the heart of everything you do as a business. It’s what differentiates you from your competitors; you could be selling similar products or services to a competitor, but if your brand is stronger, you’ll likely win out in the long run. Branding informs everything from your graphics all the way through to the style of copy you’re using, and it’s important to make it consistent. Don’t be afraid to enlist the services of a branding consultant if you need to.
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4. Be realistic
If you’re opening up a coffee shop, you’re unlikely to be competing with Starbucks within the first few years of your existence. It’s important to maintain realistic expectations as a business owner, and this extends to every element of your operation. Don’t overreach yourself; be ambitious with your decisions, but understand where your limitations are, because attempting to break them too early or too often could result in some serious issues for your business.
5. Take care of the legal side
The legal side of starting a business can be a massive headache, but it’s essential for making sure that everything is above board. The last thing you want is to create a profitable and successful enterprise, only to be brought down by some legal loophole or obscure law that you didn’t anticipate. Hiring legal representation early on for your business might seem like an unnecessary expense, but the peace of mind is well worth it.
6. Have a killer product or service
Of course, at the heart of every successful business is an undeniably useful product or service. You can determine whether or not you have one of these before you’ve even started up your business. Ask your friends and family whether they would actually use the thing that your business will provide. This isn’t a perfectly reliable litmus test, but it will give you an idea as to whether the idea at the heart of your business is one that’s worth pursuing or not.
7. Research your market and demographic
As a business, you will inevitably be aiming for specific markets and demographics; after all, very few businesses can be all things to all people (even businesses like Amazon don’t appeal to 100% of customers). By conducting market research, you’ll gain a greater understanding of who your core demographic is and how you can better appeal to them. Doing this might seem a little tedious, but it’s an essential step on the path to entrepreneurial success.
8. Look into premises
Sooner or later, your business will likely require larger premises than your home or your apartment. If you’re running an ecommerce operation, for example, you’re probably going to want to look into warehouses or other storage solutions for your products. On the other hand, if you’re offering a public service, then having an office means you’ll have somewhere professional to greet clients and give them the impression that you’re serious about what you do.
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9. Don’t quit your day job
It’s natural to passionately leap into starting a new business, but you should check yourself before you commit. Keeping your day job can be a good way to build up the funds necessary to start the business, and if it does fold and you don’t manage to achieve success (which is very common for new business ventures), then you’ve got something to fall back on as an emergency strategy. Don’t make the leap without knowing that you have something to pull you back if necessary.
10. Be passionate
Passion is one of the cornerstones of starting a small business. When you’re passionate about your idea and truly believe that it deserves to succeed, you’ll be able to weather all kinds of slings and arrows and emerge on the other side victorious. Setbacks become opportunities for learning, and victories become opportunities for growth. Make sure you’re always viewing your business through the lens of that initial passion and you’ll have a natural advantage over the cynics.