7 steps to starting a business
Are you ready to become your own boss? From formulating an idea to making sales, entrepreneur Emma Jones shares her tips on how to start a business.
1. What's the idea?
Starting a business begins with a great idea. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Have I spotted a gap in the market?
- What is my passion/hobby/skill?
- Can this be turned into a way of making a living?
- Is there something I've seen that I think I can deliver better myself?
The answer to these questions will deliver an idea for your start-up.
As the business grows, refine the idea and finesse your niche. The best businesses are niche businesses. Try to deliver a specific product or service to a clearly identifiable audience. That way, you keep marketing costs low, and customer loyalty high.
2. Have a plan
At the start of your business journey, set a plan that will act as your route map. It doesn't have to be a long document and it's easy to remember what to include as it spells I'M OFF:
- I - what's the Idea for your business?
- M - which Market are you going to serve?
- O - what Operations do you need to get off the ground?
- F - are the Finances in order? Do a simple cashflow forecast and work out if you need a small loan to start.
- F - who are the Friends who will offer support along the way? Identify the mentors, experts and professionals in your network.
With this plan in hand, you're ready for the entrepreneurial journey ahead!
3. Do your market research
By doing some market research, you'll gain crucial insights about your business landscape and audience. Knowledge of the businesses around you will help you to shape your own business. Here are a few things to look into:
- What your competitors are doing
- The prices of similar products/services
- Trends around your certain market
- Customer feedback of competitors
It's also always helpful to hear straight from your audience. Consider conducting a survey and creating open communication. Social media is a great way to do this.
4. Think about funding
When it comes to starting a business, money is essential. But if you don't have the funds you need, there are options out there designed to help you get it. Most banks have business loans available, and it's quick and easy to set up a meeting with an advisor. You could also consider borrowing money from your mortgage, or if you have a public following, Crowdfunders are proven to be a fantastic source of funding.
5. Make some noise
Embrace social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn) to become known across the web and reach out to the journalists and bloggers who influence your customers. Grab their attention with news, survey stats, crowdfunding campaigns, product launches or new client wins. Attach professional imagery to increase the chances of being covered online and off.
6. Make a sale
Start out by making sales to friends and family. Grow from there by selling via powerful marketplaces, such as Etsy, Elance, iStock and the Enterprise Nation marketplace. Or create your own home on the web through template website builders such as Moonfruit. Consider PopUps, farmers markets and any other outlets or partnerships that will get you in front of the customers you're after.
7. Keep repeating
Go through the above steps again to build momentum. Keep developing the product, making sales and getting known. Throughout, stay on top of the books to ensure there's more money coming in than heading out. Taking these steps will soon see you as the successful owner of your very own enterprise!
Want to know more about funding your small business? Check out Emma Jones' blog on the different funding options available to you. If you're thinking about starting your own business, you can find out more about our personalised small business insurance here.