Starting your own business…where should you start?
So you’ve decided to start a new business, but you’re not too sure on what the business should be, or even if you should start one at all…
I have just written an article similar to this, but more about how to find an idea for your business, but then I began to think about this subject a bit more, and decided to write this new expanded article. I have also now added a poll at the end of this article, which would be great to have your answer.
What I’d like to emphasise to you, before you begin with your new venture, is to make sure the business you start is something that you are going to be passionate about….
With Passion You Can Fly to the Moon and Back…
Business is hard and you will find many challenges along the way, customers will test you and employees will certainly test you too, so if you have the passion to continue, no matter what, there will be no obstacle that will be too big for you to overcome!
Steve Jobs once said…“You need a lot of passion for what you’re doing because it’s so hard,”
I have run businesses that I’ve both started from scratch and that I’ve bought from previous owners, and I found that I enjoyed some, but others I have ended up not really enjoying at all.
Of course, at the outset you may not know whether or not you are going to enjoy your new business, but the only true way to find out is to ‘Just Do It’.
There is no point in looking back at your life and saying, ‘if only I’d’ or ‘I wish I’d done…’ etc.
At this point, if you are still worried about starting, you perhaps don’t have the confidence, or you perhaps don’t think you are up to starting a business, then please watch this video…
What is the worst that can happen? I remember driving to the office to sign the documents to buy my last business and being extremely nervous. I recall worrying about what might happen, going through all the what if’s, but I’m glad I went through with the purchase, because I’ve learnt so much from running this new business.
For example, with this latest venture, it included running a factory for the first time – it also involved having a business that actually made something, rather than all my previous businesses that were service oriented – this was the new challenge for me and a steep learning curve at that!
So my advice to you is to go for it and if all goes wrong, you will have learnt something along the way, which you can take to your next venture and so on, but maybe it will be a success after all
So where do you look for ideas?
This might be stating the obvious, but I recommend you doing internet searches, as you will always find most things there.
However, make sure the information you are reading has got credence to it and the source is a worthy one. So for example using news sites, like The BBC or National Newspaper sites for research into your chosen market is fine, despite what people say about journalists.
There’s a great article here about ‘How ideas become viable businesses‘ from the BBC and worth a read.
Use the internet to research the competition if you’re starting out in an already established market. Look at competitor websites and look at what they do to sell their own products or service, but whilst you are doing this research, make notes of how you might do things better.
Never be afraid to call your potential competition and if you have the chance visit them too – I know I have done this myself, by visiting their showroom to see what they are selling. I’ve even carried out secret shopping on my competitors and my own business for that matter, in order to make comparisons.
Order brochures from your future competitors to see what they contain, so you can get ideas and better what they do when you begin.
If you are keen to set up your own business, but still don’t know where to begin, then perhaps invite some friends or family over and have a brain storming session. List the ideas down and decide whether the idea is something you think you’d be capable of doing.
Do you have the depth of knowledge or do you have the necessary skills to run the type of business you are looking at starting? But if you don’t, then consider getting a business partner, many businesses partnerships can work well and be extremely successful, but equally many are not.
Be careful about going into business with friends or family though, as you can sometimes fall out and this could cost you a friendship or cause family problems…I know this because it has happened to me in the past with friends, but I also saw it when I was running my own Chartered Accounting practice, where business owners fell out and in some cases ended up in court!
What type of business is best for you?
There are many ways that people get into business and these include the following:
- Look at your own skill set – You might have worked in a particular industry for years and will therefore have the necessary knowledge and expertise to setup a business in this field. However, make sure it is something you enjoy doing.
- Look at hobbies that you like doing and could set up a business with – You may have a hobby, like fishing or sailing, and you might love the idea of setting up a business in this line. However, be careful that you don’t end up spoiling your hobby by turning it into work!
- Have you got a great idea or perhaps invented something? Many people succeed with an invention, take Dyson Vacuums, but many don’t too. Getting a product to market can be very expensive, but equally, if it works it can be very lucrative.
Another important point to make at this stage, is that you must research your market and make sure it is a growing sector, rather than one that is in decline. Markets change all the time, with some of those changes being for the better and yet others can be a complete disaster for the business concerned.
One game changer over the last several years, which has had both good and bad effects on businesses, is invention of the Internet. The Internet has speeded up change, but with it and all the abundance of websites and information, it brings along many opportunities too.
It’s funny, I was talking with a group of my sailing friends last night about our iPhones and what they are capable doing – I was saying that my Satnav was playing up and I was originally going to replace it. I was telling my friends about how my wife and I were going somewhere. She’d plugged in the details on her iPhone, which was connected to my Bluetooth on the car, and when all of a sudden the directions were coming out of the car speakers.
‘It was at this point that I decided that I no longer needed to buy a new Satnav.’
We also went on to discuss how new smart phones, not just the iPhone, could also be used for navigating on the water, thereby replacing other forms of boat navigation. One of my friends said that his friend now only uses his iPhone on the water when he’s going places.
The point that I’m making here, is that new inventions and moving ideas change how we use existing technology, which will have an impact on certain businesses, so be careful about what business you start. But on the other hand, your new invention could be the next new thing that changes the way we do, whatever it is designed for…
Once you have your business idea…
Once you have an idea for your business, you will ideally need to write a business plan and possibly prepare cash flow and profit forecasts, especially if you’re looking to raise finance for your new venture into entrepreneurship!
Here is my blog article about how to write a business plan and gives what I consider the key points are for any plan and include 17 in total on how to go about it. There’s also a free link to a PDF of the key points for you to download – the article title is ‘How to write a business plan‘.
Writing a business plan need not be difficult and you can find templates online by doing a simple search. This will give you ideas for content for your business plan, plus ideas on the layout.
Business plan tip no. 1…make sure the numbers you use in the report tie up with the figures in your cash flow and profit and loss reports.
Business plan tip no. 2…make sure your forecast reports include a balance sheet, as that way you know the reports and figures will balance and make sense.
Good luck with your business idea and if you want any help with this, please comment below and either I will comment back or others reading this might help too.