If you are seriously considering starting up a new business, there are a number of points you must consider before embarking upon this exciting venture. The following are five simple steps to a successful business.
- Your Products or Services
Identify the products or services you will be supplying. Unique products are rare, but do aim to provide something which meets a gap in the market, or at least is a different take on what already exists. Price your products realistically allowing a reasonable profit margin. Choose something you are passionate about. For instance, if you love dogs and cats you could consider a pet parlour with associated pet products or a grooming service with dog walking and cat sitting services. Pets will always be popular with people, so you have a large target market. It can be valuable to research other related businesses in your locality. Whatever business you decide on, the principles are the same.
It is essential to prepare a comprehensive, realistic and positive business plan. Include descriptions of what you are aiming for and how you intend to get there. Include budget and future growth forecasts. This will become an essential reference document which will focus your mind and increase the chances of success.
If possible, finance some of the business yourself. You will no doubt need some external finance before you start up, eg products to sell, and your business plan will be essential to acquire funds from lenders and investors.
Think about having a partner to share the load and bounce ideas off, and possibly a few staff. Be aware, though, that your business will probably take time before it shows a profit, so do not overstretch yourself financially.
- Set up your systems and marketing strategy
You will need to set up your financial systems and ensure they operate effectively. Lease or purchase the best equipment you can afford. If you have a family to support, allow enough personal income for this. Work out your monthly outgoings and be realistic.
You will next need to work out your business budget and sales plan to calculate the sales you need to make a profit. This is essential to the chances of future success.
- Website Marketing
It is essential these days to have a company website. Browse some of your competitors’ sites. You may find a great discrepancy – some will be visually stunning but maybe lack content, and vice versa. If you are not a web designer, you should employ an experienced one. List some of critical elements you want and the web designer will probably have some ideas which will be useful. The website will be a key part of your marketing strategy and you should use social media such as Facebook and Twitter to enable your company profile, news and offers to reach the maximum amount of viewers. The website is for customers, so ensure it is designed and contains quality content with them in mind. A few things to consider are:
- Your company logo is ready to put onto the site
- Decide on your image branding – this will define your business and can be formal, informal, two/three colour or multicoloured, avant garde
- Your home page should introduce the site
- Ensure you have standard pages to link to – home, contact, about, FAQs, e-commerce checkouts and a page which clearly outlines your products and services
- Links to social media and related websites
- Consider whether you want articles, a blog, photos, videos, review page
- Do you wish to update the site regularly yourself or pay maintenance fees to the designer.
Traditional advertising media can also be used, but this is expensive, especially with a limited budget. Make yourself known in your local community, join clubs/organisations where you can meet like minded people. This can generate sales, as can word of mouth. Friends and family can help with initial sales and they can refer you to their associates.
- Growth and Opportunities
Starting up your own business is always. You will not have guaranteed income for a while. Its success will rely on you, your staff, customers and ultimately your products or services. You may be happy to have a business which provides a steady income for yourself and a decent profit margin. Alternatively, you may wish to become a successful international entrepreneur. Realistically, your growth will probably end up being somewhere between the two. However, it is good to know from start up how far you wish to grow your business.
Many businesses succeed or fail because of factors beyond their control. Good luck is needed and being in the right market at the right time. Remember, your primary business is your bread and butter. However, if an opportunity arises, you may be tempted to take advantage. But it is essential that this divergence will fit in seamlessly with your business plans and budget. Unless you have spare resources available, think carefully before you commit to something you are not sure about.
This post was brought to you by Company Formations 247. As a UK based company formation agent, they help to register new businesses with Companies House whilst helping them to grow as a business. Visit their website for more details.