There’s lots of help and advice on-line about how to start a business.
Ordinary people start new businesses every day. In the UK at the start of last year, small businesses accounted for 99.3% of all private sector businesses.
It’s true to say that some start-ups succeed, and lots fail. Here’s a few things you’ll need if you dare to take the plunge.
You’ll need to start, and maintain with a positive attitude, a thick skin and become resilient. The early years will usually be tough and an ability to pick yourself up and recover quickly will serve you well. It’s vital that you can recover from setbacks and keep your business moving forward. We think you’ll find that as the months and years pass those who toughen up have a better chance of success.
Meeting like-minded people can really help you in the early days.
There are plenty of business networking groups to join, and many low-cost one-off networking events in your local area.
Here’s the reality check – you’ll definitely need to budget for the cost of networking. In Norfolk/ the East you can expect that BNI will set you back upwards of £600 and 4Networking will be upwards of £300, annually. Both are excellent networks to meet suppliers, do business yourself and learn how to get the most out of business networking. There are other local, lower cost groups, some are of a drop in nature, but most are membership based. Definitely worth visiting for free and finding where you fit best.
It will help if you know what motivates you to start your new enterprise, maximise the resources you have, including your contacts, and learn from those you admire.
Here’s 4 steps to starting that business you dream of.
1. Think “Why?”
Why do you want to start a business?
This is what will see you through the bad times. You may want to make a difference, but most start-ups want to earn enough cash to pay their way in life – or to cover the cost of something. Be honest about this purpose and focus on it – understanding your motivation will be what drives you on – and it will help keep you focussed on the cash flow.
2. The right time
There’s never a perfect time to start a new business – and that doesn’t matter. Just accept it. You don’t need to keep waiting, you don’t need to leave your salaried job, or need thousands in the bank or have to have the perfect business plan on day one.
Obviously you need cash to live off until you think the business will be able to pay you, having some time scales and financial plans will help too.
But if you have a good business idea and are ready to get on with it, don’t let the minor details distract you. Once you know how to start a business, there is little to hold you back.
3. Pick up a pen
Yes, you heard correctly, a pen and paper. Take yourself off to a cafe, a library or a park bench – but get away from the screens. Take some time away from technology, pick up a pen and paper and write down your plans.
Some of the best businesses start life on scraps of paper – go somewhere you can be creative in your own mind.
- What is the purpose of my business
- Who are my customers and where are they?
- Why would customers come to me – and not my competitors?
- Who are my competitors?
- What products or services will I offer?
- What are my prices?
- Do I need staff?
- Where will my business be in 3 years from now?
4. Work on the numbers
Accounting might be the last thing on your mind but no business can succeed without a good understanding of the numbers.
The financials are vital if you want to find out about the health of your business. So give this some thought – how are you going to do your accounting in your first year?
You can get lots of free or low-cost advice from Chambers of Commerce, or other Government funded organisations; in Norwich there’s NWES.
Whatever you do, dive right in and understand the figures, and avoid nasty shocks. All good accountants will also give you a free advisory session on how to start-up. You can expect to get 90 minutes of invaluable advice and tips.
Diving into your accounts might not seem like fun. But good accounting software can make this whole key process much easier for you. Do your research on-line and find out what other small businesses are doing and which software they use. Look for software that’s intuitive, accessible, cost-effective and popular.
Whatever you do, try to get your accounting system set up correctly from the start. Three months of business can go past super fast. The last thing you’ll want to do when your business has really started – and you actually start making sales – is to hunt down, and wade through old receipts and invoices. So record everything as you go – start as you mean to go on. Check out modern Accountancy firms who will give you a free trial period with advice and support.
You can follow us on Twitter @ShaperAccounts