So you are taking the plunge and starting a new business. Even if this is your first business venture, you’ll probably be aware of some of the risks involved, but before diving in, here are some tips and pieces of business advice that you may want to take into consideration.
- First, keep your business plan realistic. It should include a mission statement, a company summary, executive summary, what service or product you plan to offer, a description of the target market, financial projections and cost of the overall operation. But you may wish to consider a horizon format for your business plan, where your first four months have specific goals and targets, the following four months still have targets, although less defined, and the final four months of the first year have outlined goals, but no detailed targets. With the close of each four-month phase – or horizon – the targets of the following period can be realigned and brought into focus. This allows for greater flexibility within your business plan, and should help avoid the common situation of the plan quickly turning into a useless piece of paper that is not related to the realities of your first year in business.
- Establish a realistic budget. Figure out how much money you’ll have to work with and then determine how much money it will take to develop your product or service. In addition, you may wish to estimate your costs for hiring third parties who can provide their services for your business. For example, if you are contacting a company (like BedrockIT) for software development, you might have to add that expense while making a budget. In order to keep this budget accurate, be sure to take into consideration the local dynamics – is there a school nearby? When do people populate the area during the daytime? When during the year? If it is an online company, what are the patterns of business activity that you should anticipate? Use other local businesses or others of the same industry as your models. What do they do right? What can you improve on? And what can you learn from their experience in order to estimate your revenues?
- When it comes to money and finances, you’ll want to stay on top of things. Find the right investors, acquire permits and licences, get your tax obligations in order, buy insurance and nail down expenses. Whether it’s you or future employees, keeping track of your income and expenses will keep you organised and legal. Use apps such as ExpenseIn to keep you on track. With this app you can enter receipts and mileage to account for business expenses. Or use it to create and edit policies and claims. This app is also up-to-date with current UK tax laws.
- Choose a name and logo. You’ll want to decide on something that best suits your business, what you will do or what you will sell. Try to focus not only on what you want, but also what will appeal to your target market. Be prepared to spend some time on this and research what others are doing – your logo is a reflection of your company’s personality, so do want to go current or classic? Edgy or secure? Logical or spontaneous? Or all of the above?
- Location, location, location. You’ll want something that will allow you to grow but not something too large that you’ll be spending all your hard earned cash on rent. Or if you are just starting, maybe create a home office. If you do, make sure insurance covers theft and damage to business assets. Either way, the geographical location of your business could be the largest single determiner of future success. Literally one road or domain name could make all the difference depending on the nature of your product and market – so be ready to make an extra investment that is based on a carefully considered strategy regarding your business address.
- Be flexible. Starting a new business can be difficult and stressful but a responsive approach to the realities and demands of the business topography is essential. For example, if your business depends on a subscription management, a reliable billing platform (like billforward.io) can reduce errors by automating repetitive tasks like generating invoices and accurately calculating usage of your product. Change things when they need to be changed, keep an ear to the ground, and determine what works best according to what you observe, experience and anticipate – not according to you’re preconceived notions of what the business realities should be.
There is a lot of work and dedication that goes into starting your own business, some of which we’ve named. But when getting serious about starting a business you’ll want to consult an expert and read a lot about it. It’s a big investment and you’ll want the best knowledge and experience that you can find.