With the vast growth in digital and alternative business opportunities since lockdown began, there has been huge growth in entrepreneur start-ups. Indeed searches for “start a business” have increased by more than 50% (source FeneticWellbeing). Here’s a handy guide exploring the basics, advice, and how to make the most of the opportunity.
1. Research extensively… and believe in what you do
Before doing anything else, set aside time to undertake extensive research. Never underestimate the importance of analysing to find potential product gaps in the market and establishing if there are any market competitors who offer an existing, successful solution. This stage is where you find your USP (unique selling point) which will help to set you apart from everyone else. Having this vital information as a base will help you lay solid groundwork and increase the chances of your success.
There have been some unusual businesses cropping up over the decades, some that people assumed would never take off, but they ended up becoming world-renowned. There’s a simple reason for this, and it is that the owner believed in their idea. If you believe in it, your consumer will believe in it too, like how the power of persuasion works. Become an advocate and seize every opportunity that you can to plug your business.
2. Secure the capital
There is no ‘one size fits all’ capital for companies and it varies between sectors, so it’s up to the owner to establish how much is needed to get the company off the ground. Firstly, you need to establish how many people will be on your team, their salaries, whether you need to rent an office space, equipment hire, internet fees, import of materials etc. One of the easiest ways you can secure capital is to use your own savings, if you have them. However, as this isn’t an option for many, there are some popular alternatives:
Government loans: In 2012, the UK Government launched the Startup Loan Scheme to encourage entrepreneurship and allow for any small business to borrow anything from £500 to £25,000. It must be paid within 5 years and has a fixed annual interest rate of 6%.
Funding from private investors: As they will be investing in your company to become a shareholder, they are also liable should your company fall into trouble, giving them a motivation to help you succeed.
Other options for you to consider include:
- Crowdfunding platforms to turn your supporters into shareholders
- Venture capital
- Small business grants
- Asking family and friends to support you
3. Choose your team wisely
If this company is to become your main source of income and what you spend most of your time on, you need to choose your team wisely. Whilst it can be tempting to hire your friends and family to help you create your empire, only hire them if you think they are right for the job. You need the people surrounding you to have the knowledge and experience to help you succeed.
Ideally your team will be trustworthy, well versed in the field you’re entering, hardworking and supportive. This isn’t to say you can’t have your close ones helping you. Try including those with no experience to help in places where a business-focused background isn’t mandatory.
Consumers aren’t only buying into your product or service, they’re buying into you as a person – where you come from, your values, the reason you started this business. Having a strong focus on being a ‘family run business’ will allow for the warmth and family element to shine through to your consumer and add a personal touch to your company.
4. Have a clear business roadmap
Having a business idea is step one of the process, but you will struggle to move forward from there without a clear business roadmap. Having a roadmap from the outset will help you to illustrate your major objectives, goals, deadlines and visualise your company’s trajectory for the coming months ahead. Track the success of your business by comparing where you are now against what you set out to achieve by this time when you began.
They’re also useful for planning for contingencies – unforeseen costs, an issue with the supplier etc. However, they don’t need to include every goal you have. Whilst it may be helpful upon first entering the market, you can quickly become too focused on setting small goals and achieving them, rather than the major goals.
5. Always question why
At every stage of the process, from the initial idea and development stages to signing off the finished model, always question why.
- Why are you doing this?
- What real world problem are you solving with your service or product?
- Why will the consumer care enough to choose you over a competitor?
By doing this, it will enable you to focus on your key message and keep you from drifting away from the reason you started.
6. Protect your assets
After putting blood, sweat and tears, not to mention the countless hours, into building your business, you want to make sure it’s protected from others. There’s plenty of options to choose from when sourcing legal firms, so make sure you choose one that perfectly aligns with your company’s values and they have your best interests at heart.
One of the most common services used amongst new businesses is intellectual property protection. It encompasses the subjects of trademark, copyright, patents, and trade secrets. This means that uses of registered designs, trademarks, and certain elements are protected by law and should anyone use it without the owner’s permission, it is a criminal offence.