Starting up a business on your own must be one of life’s steepest learning curves – and certainly one of the most challenging.
The start-up process will not only test your knowledge of your industry and your key skills, it will also teach you about yourself. By the end of year one, you will be considerably more self-aware.
Research and understand your market
In order to survive in the commercial world, you’ll need to get to know your competitors as well as you know your own business. Do you know who your competitors are, their pricing plans, the size and strength of their market, any weaknesses they may have?
Is there a real demand for your products and services? Many a business has failed because they have not researched their competitors or marketplace thoroughly enough.
No more 9 to 5
You’ll also need to be able to manage your time effectively. The 9 to 5 existence you have become used to in your ‘normal’ working life will be a thing of the past. You should be prepared to work all hours of the day to get your new venture off the ground.
To maximise the chances of your new business becoming a success, you will need to prioritise your time, and put your business first – especially during the initial year.
Understand the financials
Maintaining a healthy cash flow is also vital. You may have the best business idea in the world, but without financial backing, it will never get off the ground.
Most start-ups get going with personal funding, money from family and friends, and even credit card borrowing. This is especially true in the wake of the credit crunch which has reduced the availability of bank lending.
Try to create a realistic business plan, factoring in the worst case scenarios – cash and customer wise. If the plan works on that basis, you could well have a success on your hands.
Ask for all the help and advice you can get
Successful entrepreneurs know their own weaknesses. No-one is good at everything. If marketing isn’t your thing, call in someone to help. Don’t be afraid to ask for favours from friends and old colleagues.
Make an appointment with a local accountant before you start up. Most small business owners cite their accountant as the most important adviser they have.
You will need to think about the business structure you will be operating under. Are you going to set up as a sole trader, a limited company, or form a partnership?