If you’re thinking of starting your own small business, then planning is absolutely essential to the success of your enterprise. Many people often have business ideas and are all-too-eager to try and market their idea, but fail to prepare properly. There are several questions you need to ask yourself before you begin, and you should only pursue the project if you’re fully satisfied that the venture is genuinely right for you. If you’ve reached this conclusion, then read on!
- Research, research, research. The best way to try and ascertain whether your business will succeed is to carry out research. You should first research the idea itself to determine whether or not you’re offering a unique product or service, or if you’re going to have to compete for customers. Some industries are heavily saturated and breaking into these is extremely difficult. If you think the venture is feasible, then it’s time to carry out some market research. Conducting both primary and secondary market research (or hiring a company to do it for you) enables you to better understand your target market and your competitors. It will also help you to identify potential difficulties you may face in starting your business. A cost effective and fast way to conduct this research is to use online surveys; there are a number of brands out there that have free software packages that allow the fast collaboration of data which will be crucial to your business.
- Identify your business structure; learn the difference between companies, partnerships, sole traders, trusts etc. There are different legal and tax implications for each, so determining your structure early helps you avoid the confusion of sorting it later.
- Draw up your business plan. A business plan is vital: it should set out the reasons why you are starting your business; how you will run it; how you will promote it; who your customers will be; and who you will need to employ. It should also contain detailed financial forecasts, both in terms of running the business, start-up costs, and turnover figures, with information as to how exactly you plan to finance everything.
- Choosing the right location for your new business is perhaps the most important decision you’ll make. Are you going to lease or buy your premises? Is working from home a viable option? There are numerous factors to take into account: look at the demographics of the area you plan to start up in; scope the competition in local vicinity; assess your supply chain; evaluate the property price in regards to your budget; are there any local laws that could affect you; how effective is the location for future growth; and so on and so forth.
- Insuring your business is essential; you need to safeguard your premises, your stock, and your ability to continue trading. If you plan on having one or more employees, you will need employer’s liability insurance. You should also take into account the local crime rate in the area; will your employees feel safe? Are your premises likely to be under threat?
- Choose and register a name for your business, and create a brand if necessary. Be sure to protect your intellectual property, whether it’s an idea, product, name, or brand. You will need a strategy to manage your copyright, patents, and trademarks (if you have them), so it’s worth seeking professional advice before costs spiral out of control.
- Look to hiring a tax accountant; the services of a reputable tax advisor will save you huge amounts of time and money in the long run, and ensure you don’t get tangled up from the beginning.
These steps should only serve as guidelines and/or reminders of the process of starting your own business. You may not need to complete every step, or, there may be more steps you are required to undertake; it depends on your business entirely. Some final words of wisdom: always seek the advice and support and family and friends; their knowledge and guidance will prove to be invaluable!