It’s just one of those new year resolutions isn’t it? Take more exercise, read more books, eat less chocolate, investigate working for myself. But what does it take, and where should you start before taking the plunge?
1. Write a business plan
Writing a business plan isn’t much fun, granted but it’s a necessary. Think of it this way – you wouldn’t go on a long journey without a map, so why would you start your own business (akin to orbiting earth a gazillion times I reckon) without writing a plan of how you will do it. At first glance, business plans look horribly onerous but if you take each part at a time, it’s much more manageable.
2. Be clear about what you do
It’s so important to be clear on your offer i.e. what it is you do, and how it will make a difference to your potential customers and clients. I’ve worked with a lot of businesses over the years who just don’t know, and it shows. Who are you. What do you stand for. What do you offer. What does this mean to your customers. Knowing the answer to this will help dramatically with planning your marketing, devising a sales strategy, and in achieving your goals.
3. Take financial advice
I totally understand that, as an entrepreneur, you’re likely to be big picture focused and creative thinking. However, the majority of new ventures fail because not enough attention has been paid to the financial side of things. I always advise new businesses to meet with an accountant to talk through their cashflow forecasts and other money related things, as well as to discuss their options around any financial backing they may require. There are a range of organisations that have been set up to support start-ups with the finance they need to get off the ground, and it’s important to be clear that – if this is the road you wish to take – that you find the right one for you.
4. Find a mentor
Working with a mentor is a vital part of starting a business; having someone to talk through ideas, challenges and just for general support, is critical. Whilst family and friends will undoubtedly help and listen as much as they can, sometimes you need the advice of another small business owner who has been there, got the T shirt and knows exactly what you should think about doing next.
5. Get networking
And finally, networking is a great way to not only find new clients and contacts (which is what running a business is all about, of course) but to make new friends too. Given that working on your own, which most of us do when we first start up, can be lonely – it’s good to know that you can call on people in your town, or industry, for a friendly chat when needs be. A lot of business is got from networking, so identifying those networks that you think would be of most use to you is a great first step. Remember to take lots of business cards!