Starting a new business is extremely exciting. However, it can easily turn into a nerve-wracking task which is both challenging and complicated. In order to minimise your risks and optimise your profitability potential, it is therefore important to carefully plan and consider each aspect of your business prior to its launch.
- Getting started
- Doing your research
- Writing a business plan
- Raising money
- Presenting to the investor
- Formal Legalities
- Setting up shop
- ‘Insuring’ your bright future
- Managing your money
- Growing your business
You’re probably starting a new business because you have a great idea for a product or service which you feel has the potential to appeal to a large enough audience to make a profit. In short, you believe in your idea enough to invest your time and money into it.
Before you start, ask yourself some questions:
- What are my objectives and goals?
- What is my target market?
- How much money do I need to start-up?
- When do I want/need my business to be up and running?
- How much time do I have to dedicate to this business?
- Am I able to make these kinds of financial and time commitments?
Doing your research
It is essential that before you even start thinking about your own business, you conduct extensive research into the marketplace. This means understanding your target audience and knowing who your potential customers are, where they are and what they are looking for. It also means you identify your competition: what other companies are offering similar products or services, what makes them successful and what is their point of difference? Think about your product or service, compare it to those your competition is currently offering and find out what’s missing – identify areas of opportunity or an unmet demand in the marketplace.
Conducting this research will allow you to determine your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Your USP is what makes you stand out from the competition – the differentiating factor between your product and the one next to it on the shelf. This is the reason a customer should choose you. Make sure you’ve identified your USP or niche before you start planning your business as it will give you a clearer sense of direction.
One of the most effective methods of research is by conducting market research questionnaires. Although this is a fairly expensive resource, it can give you a detailed insight into customer behaviour and opinions. It will allow you to learn more about your potential target market and will help you customise your products or services to attract these customers more effectively.
Writing a business plan
Perhaps the most important aspect of starting up a new business is to write a detailed, accurate and effective business plan. A water-tight business plan will give you the direction and focus you need to channel your energies more effectively toward the fulfillment of your business goals. Writing a business plan requires both extensive financial knowledge and strategic planning skills – you may wish to seek the assistance of an accountant to help you at this stage of developing your business.
A good business plan can be used throughout the career of your business. It should be consulted and reviewed at any important turning points of your business to ensure you are still meeting your goals and objectives.
Your business plan might follow this sample business plan outline.
Now that you have a business plan on paper, it’s time to think about how you’ll get the money to invest in your business. There are a variety of options to choose from, but you need to ensure you plan your budget carefully and get expert financial advice to minimize any risks. Financial sources might include equity investors, loans or venture capital sc