Dreaming of being an entrepreneur and setting up a business, but you have no idea where to start. You’d be surprised how many times we get asked this question at Business Tech Service.
So many people crave the benefits that working for yourself brings such as creative freedom, setting your hours and increased job satisfaction but have no idea where to start setting up their own company.
Let’s face it, business geniuses like Branson, Sugar and Bezos didn’t emerge from education and fall straight into millions and even billion-pound ventures. It takes time and it also takes failure!
With this in mind, we have put together a quick 10 minute read on the critical elements needed for any business to be conceived and built.
First up, let go of originality. You don't need to reinvent the wheel guys, there are tons of businesses already in existence so the chances of you thinking up a brand new concept or product are slim! Instead, focus on your skillset and passions and build from there.
If you can turn something you love into a successful business venture then you are winning at life. It's pretty obvious, but you are much more likely to succeed in business if you focus on what you are good at.
Think about your background, skills and experience. Are you trained in bookkeeping? Offering your services to other small businesses is a viable idea to build a successful enterprise. If you have a passion for fashion then a small e-commerce venture would make sense. Maybe you have been cleaning for years and want to set up your own cleaning company to service residents or small offices.
Whatever your background, focus that knowledge on your idea.
Once you know what you want your business to do or be; create a business plan. This will help you steer your business as you grow. If you create it properly, a good plan will guide you through each startup stage and into a flourishing company.
The key features of your business plan are as follows:
If you require a loan or investment to get your idea off the ground then you will need to prove that there is a sound market for your business. Make your plan foolproof and simple to understand, allowing potential investors to understand your model.
Do your research. Get together detailed information such as market analysis, competitor analysis, marketing and operations plans. Planning is the key to success.
This may all sound very jargony and complex but it's not when we break it all down.
Market & competitor analysis: is anyone else doing what you want to do and where you want to do it? Learn from other businesses competing for your potential customers. Try and define a competitive edge that creates sustainable revenue. Your competitive analysis should identify your competition by product line, service and market segment.
Marketing: think about your brand, name, logo, mission statement, values, what you want to be and to whom? One of the hardest parts of growing any business is getting people to know that you exist. To get your business off on the right foot keep marketing simple: ensure that people know about your business and what it offers first.
Create an operations plan: Explain in detail your company's strategic plan, procedures and timeline. Your operations plan should cover the following: Who – The people who are in charge of completing specific tasks (This is you, to begin with!) Where – The information on where daily operations will be taking place (this may be your garage!) When –The deadlines for when the tasks and goals are to be completed. How much – The cost to complete tasks, such as shipping your stock or building a website. The devil is in the details!
SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. Once you map out your growth plan, develop goals alongside it and the objectives to meet these requirements. Make a plan of action. Write it down, evaluate it regularly and reassess your goals as needed to keep you on track for success!
Ensure that you dedicate enough time to your new venture. Ask yourself if you are ready for a startup lifestyle? Don’t make the common mistake of assuming that starting up your own business is a great way of getting rich quickly and escaping from your old problems.
Starting your own company usually involves gruelling long hours, 7 day weeks and the loss of certain benefits that working for someone else brings such as regular income, sick and holiday pay and bonus schemes. It's a good idea to take an honest look at yourself and your lifestyle before leaping.
Having ironed out the above, now you may start to wonder - how much does it cost to start a business in the UK? It's a great question and one with many potential answers.
Depending on your circumstances and business plan you may decide upon setting up a limited company. This is easy to do via Companies House and the process starts at around £15.
Then you may need to consider premises. Most online startups don't require commercial leases and utilise their home space until the business gets off the ground. Similarly, if you are starting an agency, client meet and greets can be held in public venues such as coffee shops and restaurants.
However, if you are starting a retail business, actually buying the stock will be one of your biggest expenses. Make sure you shop around to get the best deal from suppliers and hold out on buying the stock until the last possible moment to try and make the most of any credit deals you may be able to negotiate. Consider drop-shipping so that you don't handle products or use the garage and spare bedroom to hold stock while your enterprise is small enough to do so.
Back to marketing your business - this can be another big outlay.
Quick and cost-saving wins are ensuring that your website is optimised to ensure greater traffic and potential conversion to either a product, service, or lead generation. Don’t try to cut costs at this stage and instead invest in your website build, saving yourself money further down the road.
Implementing email marketing campaigns to boost sales and improve brand awareness is in this day and age essential. Don’t be fooled into thinking email marketing is dead just because you can reach your customer via social channels such as Facebook.
Big data allows small businesses to gain huge insights! Data and analytics can help a business of whatever age and size predict consumer behaviour, improve decision making and determine the return on investment of their marketing efforts and costs.
Data also allows for effective identification of issues and potential causes as well as helping to optimise performance.
Never underestimate the importance of good-quality data!
When starting your business it is essential to invest in decent software. There are several software options essential for business operation including databases for managing stock and product data, accounting software, CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software, CMS (Content Management Software), payment transaction software and productivity software to name but a few!
To be as cost-effective as possible it is important to make the best software decisions from day one.
What tech do I need to start a business? Technology is a small business owner's best friend! From the essential software mentioned above to web hosting services, online data storage and the actual hardware required to get you started, tech is essential.
When it comes to the hardware used in business the below is a list of must-haves to get started:
There are advantages to both. Desktops are cheaper to repair, whereas laptops are portable and great for taking to client or supplier meetings. Regardless of your decision, you should ensure that you are getting a really strong performance machine when choosing a business computer. Think fast processor, a decent amount of RAM, and tons of storage space.
You may need to print out flyers, hard-copy documents, contracts and you want that printing to be as cost-effective and reliable as possible. Laser jet printers tend to be durable and most are also multifunctional, boasting scanner and photocopy functionality as well. Do your research to find recommendations for the best small business printer you can buy.
Perfect for home offices, network routers can upscale with you as your business grows. Modern routers now often come with dual or even triple band connectivity, as well as a slew of other features usually found on far more expensive enterprise-grade models, while costing considerably less.
Once you have invested in your hardware it's time to think about your website. Website builders are a great place to start. They allow you to build a website with low technical knowledge, effort and cost. Read our latest article about web builders: the benefits, the drawbacks and who they are best for.
Starting a business from scratch can be really rewarding and could be one of the best decisions of your life.