Steps to starting your own business (Part Two)

Paperclips & paperFinding funding Raising start-up capital can be complicated and you’ll need to carefully weigh-up your options. Traditional approaches include using personal assets and bank loans while more modern methods include crowdfunding and business angels. Explore all available avenues and forensically crunch the numbers.

Gently does it You’ll be surprised how much you can learn about running a business by working evenings and weekends; so why not dip your toe in the water before taking the plunge? Part time working also allows you to think and make decisions without the day-to-day pressures (and distractions) of business life.

Where to work? One way to help get the right work-life balance is to keep your working and living space separate. Lots of big businesses have started in spare rooms and garages (most famously Steve Jobs and Apple) but it helps to close the door at the end of the day and focus on your family. Working at home means you’ll cut down on costs and commuting time, but it can take a toll and a serviced office may be an affordable alternative.

Everyone’s an expert Ask advice from anyone who’s already ‘been there and done that’ and you’ll get an array of different answers and opinions. Learning from other people’s mistakes is a great way to get ahead, but remember they did it their way and this is your business. Soak up advice like a sponge, but be careful what you put into practice. If you don’t have any trusted brains to pick there’s plenty of help out there, from business helplines and online forums to networking breakfasts.

Work flow: Remember that doing the work is often the easy bit and getting the orders is often the hard bit. Plan ahead and try to keep a steady stream of work coming in, better still over-deliver with your existing clients and keep them coming back for more.

Stay in touch When you leave your job it’s important that you don’t burn your bridges. The chances are that you’ll be working in a similar sector and staying friends can pay long-term dividends. Business can be a small pond and the bigger fish can have surprisingly long memories.

Go digital These days websites cost next to nothing to develop and it doesn’t take long to build something that looks great straight ‘out of the box’. However, there’s little point in putting up what amounts to an online business card when your customers want more. Instead get social, start by joining influencers’ conversations, before beginning your own. Establish yourself as an industry expert and sales will follow.

Decision making One of the toughest aspects of running your own business is making daily decisions. In your previous workplace, you were probably surrounded by colleagues you could bounce ideas off, but it’s a different ballgame when you’re on your own. The stakes are much higher and hours can pass while you chew over the options. Don’t dither: make a decision and remember you can always change your mind later.

Tell your story A good product will sell, but a good product with a great story will fly off the shelves. Today consumers want to buy more than just a product; they want to buy into a lifestyle. Food manufacturers have been ahead of the game for years and you can be sure they’ll tell you everything they can about a product’s provenance, ethos and sustainability. You’re passionate about your business and you need to tell your customers what’s so great about your business.

Get insured Small business insurance provides a cost-effective way to safeguard against risk, while some benefits are legal requirements (such as employers’ liability) others (such as public liability) make smart business sense. Business insurance provides peace of mind that everything’s covered, leaving you more time to run your business.


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