At the time of writing this article, the UK is in lockdown again and the number of new cases of Covid-19 are still incredibly high…
So, why write an article about starting your own business?
January is usually deemed a time for new beginnings. Most of us make resolutions in January in the hope our lives will be enriched during the year and beyond.
You may be working from home, on furlough and wondering how the year will unfold, or perhaps facing or have already been made redundant – so now what?
Ideas will be forming, and some of you may wish to take the plunge and start your own business. The entrepreneur is born, but it takes more than an idea to get your business off the ground.
This article will help you understand some of the key challenges you will face and must overcome if you are to create a successful business.
1. What do I know about this business?
Whilst this may initially sound like an unusual question, let’s dissect what this really means.
For every job, there is a business behind it, for example; an electrician needs to understand their job in order to be competent and not endanger anyone, including themselves! Safe installations are vital, and there are consequences if the work is deemed poor quality or dangerous. However, the business of being an electrician is more than the job.
The business of being an electrician means understanding the areas in which you wish to specialise. Are you interested in new developments, highly specialised component development, general electrician undertaking repairs in domestic or business premises etc?
There are many facets to being an electrician, so understand your niche within the industry – trying to be all things to all people can lead to ineffective marketing messaging and confusion as to what you can actually offer people.
Another aspect of the industry you should know about are the Governing bodies:
- Is it a requirement that you register, and if so, what are the benefits to the business?
- Will the business be required to take any qualifications prior to trading?
- Is there a requirement for ongoing training to maintain your status or additional training to elevate your status in the industry?
Do your research:
Are there magazines you should subscribe to so that you remain up-to-date in industry and product knowledge?
Are there specific trade shows you should attend or conferences to help broaden your knowledge and introduce you to other well-known people within the industry?
2. Who do I know that runs their own business?
Before you take the plunge, it’s important to talk to anyone you know who already runs a successful business. Do not waste your time talking to anyone that hasn’t or isn’t in business because you need to tap into their experience.
It’s important to hear directly about the various aspects of running a business such as the difference from operating from home to finding office or warehouse space. What are the difficulties of hiring? Should you use agency staff? What are the unseen costs of business?
Experienced business owners will no doubt tell you that being in business means you cannot get away from it, even whilst on holiday. You may realise that being the boss is a lonely job and it’s important to find a business coach to save you from making a lot of mistakes, that can cost money or worse, loss of customers or business reputation.
Spending time with experienced business owners will also help you recognise that running a business is a lot of work and a bigger commitment than being in a job.
3. What skills do I possess and is there a requirement to outsource?
It’s important to recognise from the outset that you cannot be good at running all aspects of your business. I recommend you undertake a skills audit to ascertain the key areas in the business where you are capable of undertaking tasks to a high standard. For those that do not interest you or you do not understand, you’ll need help and training.
To main areas three are:
- Finance and accounts
- Production (doing the job)
Perhaps there are people around you capable of helping out with specific functions.
Alternatively, speak to an accountant or business adviser for recommendations on who to approach to fill the gaps. A good recommendation is much better than trying to find someone yourself to fill a role when you’re unsure whether you can trust them to do the job.
Michael Gerber in his book The E-Myth talks about this point. You need a team around you that you can trust and rely on to complete tasks to a standard, leaving you to focus on what you’re good at. Trying to complete all of the business tasks means something will have to give, especially when you become busy.
4. Do I have the support of family and friends?
This is one of the most important questions to ask. It’s great that you may have dreams of being a successful business owner, however, if you do not have the support of those around you, especially at home, then life will be incredibly tough and even more lonely and stressful.
Receiving support allows you to fully commit to your business and will cut you more slack at home, especially when success and money come your way. It’s also important to remember you are not alone, so share your problems, although seeking solutions from people who have never run a business is usually unwise. You share problems to vent but find good, experienced people who can help you with business decisions or solutions.
5. What steps must I take to get started?
You’ve had your discussions with experienced business owners, your family are behind you and you would like to get started. What happens next?
Depending on your business idea and whether you will need funding, it’s important you create a plan. You may need to write a business plan and draw up projections in the form of profit and loss and cash flow in order to ascertain how much funding you need.
It’s important that you do the research so that you obtain accurate costs for your projections. If you need premises, take your time to find the right premises remembering that location is critical in some business sectors.
If you need suppliers, then it’s your job to either telephone them or arrange a meeting to agree terms of trading.
Once you have your supply chain in place, your focus must shift to marketing.
How many different ways can you find to attract customers to your business? This is the heart of the business and without your marketing pumping hard, you’ll struggle to make a sale.
When you have organised your marketing and are confident that it will lead to sales, you are then ready to complete your business plan and projections and seek the finance you may require.
If you need help with marketing or writing your business plan, ask your business friends or business adviser.
You can also refer to the following articles:
How to Write a Simple but Effective Business Plan
How to Write a One-Page Marketing Plan
How To Write A Profit And Loss Forecast For Your Start-up Business
How To Write A Cash Flow Forecast For A Start Up Business
Remember, “you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance at doing what you love” ~ Jim Carrey