Monday 10 March 2014

5 Steps To Setting Up Your Own Business

Business Startup
So you've decided that now is the time to set up your own business. Congratulations, it's a brave move but in my experience it's the best decision you will ever make! Now that you've decided to take the leap, there are 5 key steps to getting set up that will stand you in good stead.

1. The Idea

For me, this is always the hardest step. There are so many products and services to potentially get involved with that it can be hard to choose. My advice would be to focus on an industry that you have worked in previously or have a good knowledge of. This will give you a head start in your planning as you may already understand the competition and opportunities in the market.

One thing that works well, particularly when going down the product route, is to look for either an exclusive or a way to create a product under your own brand name. Plenty of suppliers will label your products under your brand name, good examples of these for getting started in selling products online are Alibaba, VapeLab, and Print Clothes. These sites and more will let you create custom branded products, helping your business to stand out amongst the crowd.

If you go down the service route, try to not simply copy other ideas. You may be entering a marketplace with plenty of competition, but try to find a way to differentiate yourself and give yourself a unique selling point (USP) that will appeal to potential clients. This can be tricky to do, dependent upon your niche. There's nothing wrong with borrowing elements of competitor's strategies and amending them to create something unique.

2. Funding

Once you have your idea, it's time to create your business plan. The crucial part of an initial business plan is naturally going to be funding. Whether you are planning to save up yourself or take investment you need to consider a lot of different factors here, such as:

  • How long can you survive without taking a wage?
  • What's the lowest wage you can live off?
  • What are your startup costs?
  • Do you really need a physical premise, or can you work from home?
  • Will you need to hire people straight away?

These types of questions will give you an idea as to how much funding you need to survive that first crucial year, both as a business, and with your personal finances.

There are a number of options available for funding, from bank loans to private investment. Crowdfunding has also become a credible option with sites such as Kickstarter successfully funding numerous startups with creative ideas. Crowdfunding ensures you don't have a high level of bank interest or a single powerful investor applying pressure.

3. Making The Leap

Once your business plan is set, and you're confident about your plans it's time to make the leap. This may mean leaving your current employment if you are currently earning a living, or it may just mean formalizing the business.

Register yourself with the relevant authorities including the taxman at an early stage to avoid any surprises later on.

Once you've made the leap and are out of your current employment, make sure you make a big noise around your launch. Get friends and family to share your brand socially, and make your launch a big deal. This will help with step 4, your marketing strategy.

4. Marketing Strategy

You will no doubt have thought about your marketing strategy, in terms of how to generate new customers whilst planning everything out and creating a business plan. However, when you are actually live and running your business the marketing strategy becomes even more important.

Making a big noise at launch should be complemented with other activity in the form of advertising, content marketing, social media, event attendance and other marketing dependent upon your niche. The problem is, the word of mouth element from your launch may be keeping you quite busy in terms of work at this early stage (hopefully), which means that you don't have quite as much time to focus on your marketing strategy as you need.

Make sure you keep some time back from your schedule to continue with your marketing efforts to keep work coming for the long term. Many startups fail because their initial business development from word of mouth is strong, and they don't feel the need or have the time to continue to invest in their marketing for the long term benefit of their business.

5. Surviving The First Few Months

Believe it or not, the setting up part of your business is by no means the hardest part. Once you've made that leap into self-employment or running a limited company, you need to make sure you survive the first few months. The first year is always the biggest challenge, but the first few months can be particularly challenging in terms of generating new customers, getting your name out there, and dealing with issues like cash flow. Prepare for this carefully in your business plan - expect the worst and make sure you can survive it and then you will be in a position to thrive as your reputation grows.

Best of luck with setting up your new business - by careful planning and forethought you can give yourself a much higher chance of success. Strap yourself in for the ride, there will be plenty of ups and downs, but running your own business may be the best decision you have ever made.

About The Author: Bryan Staggers is an online entrepreneur who runs numerous ecommerce sites such as VapeLab. Bryan enjoys writing to share his experience in setting up businesses, with a particular focus on online revenue creation.

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Related articles:
Is 2014 The Year To Go Entrepreneur?
Could Franchising Be The Right Route For You?
How To Survive Your First Two Years As A Start-Up
Q & A: What To Consider When Setting Up A Home Business
Most Important Steps To Draft Your Business Plan
Legal Issues For Setting Up A Business

For more business tips plus helpful articles on setting up your own business, use the following links:

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