Many of us may be keen to leave the rat race and take matters into our own hands, but it can be challenging to know where to start! According to Forbes, 90% of Start-ups fail. It’s an intimidating statistic, but one to bear in mind if you’re thinking of setting out on your own business venture. There will always be hurdles, and no guarantee of success, but with the right plan in place you can avoid many of the pitfalls which new ventures commonly face, and hopefully build a successful company from the ground up, with our tips below.
Find your Niche
Possibly the most difficult part of starting a business is the most fundamental: having a great idea for a service or product. Some entrepreneurs will stumble upon an idea spontaneously, but this is by no means always the case. Fortunately, there is plenty you can do to find inspiration. One strategy is to seek problems which have not currently been solved. This can be a longer process than simply sitting down and thinking of ideas – it’s important to always be on the look-out for problems when as you live your day-to-day life. Every problem is a potential opportunity which could be the foundation of your new business. You might be able to improve on a current product or service or provide one who doesn’t yet exist. You might find that you have to narrow down your ideas – when doing this, it can be helpful to find out how high the demand for your product or service might be. You might consider mobilizing your network of friends, family, or colleagues by asking them to fill in a quick survey.
Research is Essential
With the wonders of the internet and public libraries, research is free. Before starting your business, it is important to ask questions like ‘is the market for this idea saturated?’, ‘who is my potential competition?’, and ‘how do I reach my target audience?’ You can access a huge amount of market data using resources such as the British Library’s Business and IP Centre. It’s based in London, but most of its data can be accessed from centralized libraries in other locations, such as Sheffield, Leeds, Birmingham, and Newcastle. The resource will give you access to industry journals, market reports, and company data. It’s amazing how much you can learn from how other, already successful companies.
Have a Plan
Making a business plan in the early stages of your start-up is vital. Having realistic, objective targets will help you stay motivated, and keep on track in the process of starting your business. Keeping careful records of your finances from the outset can also save you a lot of hassle further down the road. Making financial projections, based on your market research, is also vital to know where you stand. Having a well-researched prediction about how your business will fare is will also help you to attract the support of investors.
Be Careful with Credit
Bank loans are not your only option if you need to raise capital to start your venture. They can be difficult to get, especially in the early days of your business, and not always the best solution to financing needs. Crowdfunding can not only be a viable solution, but it can also help you to further gauge the future popularity of your business by seeing how many people are willing to support it financially. Relying on high-interest loans can also lead to debt problems further down the line. For more advice, click here.
Another potential funding source not to be overlooked is family members. If you have a well-planned, strongly conceived business idea, there is no reason to assume that your family will not prove willing to invest. It’s at least worth asking! Family members are also more likely to agree to more generous repayment terms. Avoiding interest payments can leave more money free to invest straight in your venture and, ultimately, make it more likely to succeed.
Naming can be Vital
Simple as it sounds, finding a relevant and memorable name for your business can be a real challenge. Since this will form people’s initial impression of your business for (hopefully) years to come, it’s worth taking the time to get it just right. Perhaps the biggest challenge start-ups face when choosing a name is to ensure that it isn’t already being used by another company. This can be a highly frustrating process! Start by drafting some potential names, and check their availability in these four categories:
- Companies’ House
- Domain Name
- Trading as
Finding a name which is available on all four counts will allow you to create a uniform brand presence. Securing your name is also an excellent boost to morale and motivating – making your business start to feel less like a dream and more like a reality.
Bringing it all Together
There is no single factor which makes a business successful; it is rather a combination of introducing a strong product or service to the right market at the right time. There is certainly an element of luck involved, but with careful planning and enthusiasm, you could soon be well on the way to making your venture a reality.