Business start-up 101: part one
Starting a new business and working for yourself can be an exciting prospect, albeit daunting. However, excitement about a product or service that you’d like to provide can often over-shadow the really important fundamental activities that must form part of setting up a business, such as business plans, researching the market and funding sources.
As obvious as these elements may sound, a recent survey suggested that only around 25 per cent of business start-ups had a plan, and figures from the Start-up Cities Index last year showed the survival rate for business start-ups in Birmingham was just over 36 per cent. Ensuring your chance of survival is key, if you are to beat the odds.
Here is the first of our two-part article series on starting up a business:
- Ensuring you have the right attributes to run a business – being able to work to your own agenda, earn profits that will benefit you directly and be your own boss are all incredibly tempting elements when considering starting a business. However, running a business is far from plain sailing or a walk in the park – there’ll be long hours, blood, sweat and tears underpinning any successful business. Think about why you are doing it and ensure you’re up for all the challenges business ownership will bring.
- You can never do too much research – researching a market you are looking to enter and trade in is an absolute must and key to success. Your idea mightn’t be as unique as you think, so do the necessary research to ensure the market isn’t already saturated with providers. If you still wish to enter an industry where competition is fierce, think about your differentiators. If you can’t bring any additional benefits or added value to customers, you’ll be on a long, uphill battle.
- Sound out the target market – in addition to researching the competition, it is vital to get the views of the people you will be targeting with your product or service. With the rise of social media and online survey providers such as Survey Monkey, it has neve been easier to conduct DIY market research to gain insight on the audience. Offering an incentive usually works well when trying to encourage survey participants. Perhaps even think about creating a dedicated survey panel through an online provider, that you can build and grow for ongoing research to ensure you are always meeting your customers’ changing needs.
- Create a support system – whether it’s a friend who runs their own business, old colleagues or new acquaintances gained through networking, having a support system around you of people you can use as a soundboard for ideas, go to for advice or to talk an idea through with is an invaluable attribute for you in business. If you want something more formal in place, you can hire a business coach or make full use of accountancy services that offer business advice and extra services to get your business off to a flying start.
Starting out will never be easy, from the decision to go it alone to the execution of the plan and beyond. But the rewards can make the slog worth it. In part two of our Business start-up 101, we’ll be covering professional services, funding and business plan.