Starting up your own business is the ultimate goal for many entrepreneurs. Andy Brownsell, Commercial Director at Protectivity shares his tips to make it happen.
Not only is it considered an amazing achievement but it also means you get to be your own boss, and it seems many people in the UK agree - a staggering 98,613* startups have already been set up this year so far.
However, before we all start launching our own businesses - whether it may be creating a new app or setting up a dog walking business - it’s important to remember that running your own enterprise is no easy feat, and you need to be ready for the ups and downs a new startup can bring.
Follow this seven step guide to get your business up and running as smoothly and successfully as possible:
Step 1: Build a strong foundation
Having a business idea that you’re extremely passionate about is a crucial ingredient in launching a startup, but it unfortunately won’t guarantee you success alone. For your new business to come into fruition, you need a thorough business plan.
Firstly, ask yourself the following questions:
· Who are your target audience?
· What will you be providing that sets you apart from your competitors?
· What are your short and long-term goals and how will you reach them?
· How quickly are you expecting to grow your company?
When you’re able to answer these questions with confidence, you’ll have what you need to create a solid foundation for your new business. These types of questions will also likely be the queries raised by potential investors who are learning about your business for the first time, so transparency and comprehensibility are critical.
Finally, and most importantly, your strategy will need to explain how you’ll manage your finances. The average UK startup spends £22,756 in its first year, which doesn’t include costs for business-specific activities such as developing a product or service. You should be looking to budget for a minimum of twelve months, with all monetary expenses included in your strategy; from getting insurance to replacing the coffee machine, it all adds up.
Step 2: Striking a good work-life balance will benefit your startup
Believe it or not, running your own business and having a good work-life balance is achievable, with it being advised ‘to set some time aside for work, some for friends and family, and most importantly, some time aside for yourself to recharge.’
To accomplish this, you need to be an expert at time management and realise that quality trumps quantity. Setting yourself daily, weekly, monthly and even yearly tasks and goals to complete, as well as constantly evaluating where time can be saved and be put to better use, you’ll be able to factor in relaxation time whilst managing your business.
Step 3: Learn from other people’s mistakes
One way to avoid any setbacks in the early days is to seek the advice of others who have been in the same boat, particularly those in the same industry as you.
It’s important to listen to suggestions from people offering professional legal and financial advice too, such as a lawyer or investor. Combined with the tips given to you from industry experts and established SME owners, you should feel more confident about launching your business.
Step 4: Never stop learning
Research into your industry doesn’t stop when you set up your own business - in fact, it’s just the beginning. Keeping on top of market research, legal obligations, customer demand and your competitors will enable your startup to evolve as your industry changes and develops.
A great way to keep up to date with a rapidly changing industry is to network at as many events as you can, and apply any beneficial knowledge you learn to your business. You’ll naturally become more experienced with time, so don’t forget to put your own learnings into practice too.
Training sessions are also a great way to keep at the forefront of your industry and ensure your business is running as smoothly as possible, whether it’s a course that will help improve your presence online or improve your product pitches. The good news is that these courses don’t have to break the bank or take up months of your time; any opportunities that will be advantageous to your company and improve your confidence as a business owner should be taken!
Step 6: Get under the skin of your market audience
We’ve seen countless occasions on ‘The Apprentice’ where entrepreneurs ignore market research and produce a product nobody wants. This happens in real life too, with the number one reason for the failure of 42% of polled startups being because their service or product was not
demanded by their target audience.
To avoid this, spend time looking into what your market truly wants and needs. In this case the customer is always right so don’t risk all your hard work, and ultimately your chance of being a successful business owner, by ignoring their opinions.
Step 7: Get your name out there...and don’t give up!
Now you’ve carried out your research, created a concrete strategy and your product or service is ready for launch, it’s time to introduce your business to potential customers. As the face of your startup, appearances are everything. It’s up to you to let your audience know what your business is all about, which you can do by networking both in person and online using social media platforms.
Importantly, you also need to be ready to persevere. The success rate of new businesses falls to less than 50% after the first five years, with 13% of new businesses failing because of a lack of focus. It’s important to remember that the hard work doesn’t stop once you’ve got your startup up and running, so make sure you’re prepared for the effort it requires to be a successful business owner.
So what are you waiting for? Good luck!