Hindsight is a wonderful thing! I was given the opportunity to start my own business as a direct result of being on the wrong end of a major cost cutting exercise by my former employers. What I didn’t have was the luxury of a 6 month lead time before I started up my business. This is what I would have done before I started up my own business, …if I had had the luxury of time on my side:
1. Write your business goals down
Only about 3% of adults have clear, written goals. These people accomplish five to ten times as much as people of equal ability and standing, but who, have never taken the time to write out exactly what they want to achieve. From personal experience, your business idea only properly starts to take shape when you write your goals down and tell other people about them. I had wanted to be my own boss for about five years. Once I wrote down my business goals, my business was up and running within 3 months.
2. Gain the commitment and support of family and friends
Starting your own business is all-consuming. As a new business owner, your working week is now 7 days. Inevitably your quality time with the family, friends and loved ones is going to reduce in the short term – how can you prepare people for this? It is a sad statistic that many new business owners’ marriages don’t survive the first couple of years of trading. Knowing that you have your family and friends commitment and support to your new venture is invaluable and a great source of free advertising!
3. Strengthen your network
People prefer to buy from people that they trust or have been recommended to them by someone that they trust. As well as being your most effective source of work, referrals, customers and clients, your network will take the place of your current work mates and colleagues. Suddenly, as a new business owner, you can’t just pop down the corridor and ask Maggie in marketing for some advice. Do you have enough people in your current network willing and able to give you all the advice and assistance that you may need in the early days of working for yourself?
4. Identify mentors
Chances are that somebody will have been there before you and got the tee-shirt. Most people when asked to act in a mentor capacity are genuinely flattered and want to help someone starting out. You can learn from their mistakes and successes. My mentors in the early days of being my own boss gave me priceless advice which helped me get the basics right first time, and supported me through the difficult patches.
5. Identify your target market
You will be building up your business one client/customer at a time. So, where are your customers and clients coming from? And more importantly, where do they hang out? What do they read? What websites are on their favourites list? What do they expect from their suppliers? Only when you have answered these questions will you be ready to think about writing and implementing a marketing strategy.
6. Answer the question – ‘why my product or service is different?’
Unless you are one of the very few people who manage to come up with a completely new product or service, you need to be able to identify what makes you different from your competition, and why people should buy from you instead. Everyone you meet as a new business owner will be a potential new client/customer or referrer. Therefore, it’s important that you have a short, jargon free, elevator pitch to describe what you are going to be offering with your business.
7. Find a coach
In the early days of setting up a business, it can often be difficult to have the space and time to focus on what really matters. From personal experience, I can tell you that until you are established business owner you are on a very steep learning curve and one hell of a roller coaster ride. A good coach will help you see the wood for the trees, provide a time and space for you to think, expand your list of options and choices, and provide invaluable support and encouragement.
8. Do the research for your business plan
A business plan is the most important document that you will create for your business. Even if you don’t require investors to execute your business plan, a well thought out business plan will help you achieve more for your time, effort and money in the long term.
9. Identify and acquire the skills you will need as your own boss
Unless you can afford the full complement of professional advisors, you will need to acquire new skills as a new business owner. Like me, in your first few months of trading, you may find yourself amongst others becoming the book keeper, web designer, marketing expert, finance director and new business director for your business. Until you have a team of people working for you, delegating tasks and functions to professional advisors costs money you often can’t afford to spend. However, you may be able to acquire these skills for free or at highly reduced rate. Do you have an opportunity to acquire these skills with your current job or hobbies and interests? Who offers funded places for courses aimed at new business owners?
10. Believe in yourself
And finally, If you don’t believe in yourself, no-one else will – and you wouldn’t have the confidence to get started on what could be the best experience of your life.
If you want to talk through your ideas for your business, drop me a line – email@example.com, or give me a call on + 44 (0) 1234 48 0123. I would love to hear from you!
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