Starting your own business is something that many people turn to in a thin job market. Entrepreneurship is a little more difficult now than it was when you were a kid setting up a lemonade stand, so we’ve compiled a list of some essential tips to keep in mind when you’re considering being your own boss.
1. Know your market
It’s a given that you start by finding a product or service that you’ll provide. Once you’ve done this, you’ll need to figure out exactly who you’re going to be selling it to – your target market. Then consider what you’re going to be charging for it. Do some market research. Also investigate competitors in your field. See what it is that the successful ones have done right. Also check what those who failed did wrong, and learn from their mistakes.
2. Put together a business plan
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It’s likely that you’re not going to have the capital on hand to start your business out of your own pocket alone. With a strong and well-assembled business plan, you’ve got a better chance of attracting partners, investors and banks to aid you in starting your business. You’ll need to describe
- your business’s overall concept and how it fits into the market
- how you plan to monetize it
- how much money you’ll need
- where you stand currently in the process of getting the business off the ground, including its legal standing
- a brief history of the idea and anything else you think might show your business in a good light.
Your business plan should also include your marketing strategies. For example, will you be using digital, print, or online media, or
perhaps the radio? Maybe a combination? Whatever your intended marketing strategy, include it in your plan. Finally, you can also include what you learned about your competitors in step 1. Mention what failed competitors did wrong and what you plan to do differently.
It’s important to have a firm grasp of the legal side of running a business. It’s a good idea to hire an attorney or at least a legal advisor to help you with the paperwork you’ll need to complete to register your business, file for a tax number, deal with any customer or employee disputes and so on. Having an advisor you can lean on will put your mind at ease, allowing you to focus on running your business.
Similarly, it’s a good idea to hire an accountant to help you crunch the numbers. Doing your own personal tax is difficult and time consuming enough, so having someone on call to sort out tax for your business is important.
4. Forming a business entity
There are several business types that you should consider when registering your business. These include:
- sole proprietorship, if you run the business alone or with a spouse
- general proprietorship, if you run the business with a partner who is not a spouse
- limited partnership, if your business is comprised of some general partners (who are liable for problems with the business) and some limited partners (who are only liable for the amount that they have invested in the company)
- limited liability partnership, in which no partner is liable for the negligence of another.
5. Planning your finances
One of the biggest mistakes most new businesses make is to spend all their startup capital at once, splashing out on expensive furniture, office artwork, premises and more. Instead new business owners should be pinching pennies wherever they can. One way to keep costs low initially is to opt for a temporary office space rather than a brick-and-mortar building. A clever way of doing this is to look into a self-storage company that offers rentable offices. These are perfect for running a business, and for bringing clients in for meetings.
6. Marketing your business
One of the fastest and most effective ways of getting your name out there is to have a strong online presence. This means hiring an experienced designer to put a website together for you, and generating as much buzz as possibly on social media platforms like Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.
Aside from online marketing, you may also want to consider advertising via newspapers, periodicals, brochures, flyers, radio ads, or just about any other medium that your budget allows for. Just remember, only begin marketing your product or service once you’re actually ready to accept money to provide it.
7. Launch time!
You’ve gone through with the legal side of things, been advised by an accountant, secured a location, readied your product or service, and you’re ready to go! Don’t just open your doors and expect the customers to flood in. Instead it’s often a good idea to have a launch party of some sort. Run a giveaway or some other type of promotional event to encourage people to support your business. Invite friends and family and any other people who can help you spread the word. Then with luck and some hard work, your business will thrive.