Dos and Don’ts of starting a business
With a record 80 companies being formed per hour, thousands across the UK are waking up to the opportunity of giving up the day job and starting their own business. Leading business advisor and author of The Startup Coach, Carl Reader, offers the following tips for those looking to make the leap into self-employment:
- Be prepared: Many future business owners skip some of the essential steps in setting up their business. Whilst a business plan is important, there are some practical things that you need to do to give yourself the best chance of success. Make sure that you set yourself up to win by setting aside space at home to work from, if you are running a home based business. Explain clearly to your family the impact that the business might have on your personal life. Most importantly, make sure that you plan your finances and keep a contingency fund – nothing adds to the stress of starting a business quite like financial difficulties.
- Play to your strengths: Be honest with yourself and consider where your skills and experience can come into play. Once you know these, you have a powerful tool to convince customers, suppliers and funders to do business with you. There will be areas that you are not so skilled in, and rather than trying to do this yourself, consider whether outsourcing to someone else might be better for you and your business.
- Take action! Perhaps the biggest problem with many new businesses is also the simplest to solve. Time and time again, I see new ideas which stay as ideas, just because the business owner doesn’t take the important step from planning to action. To be successful in business, sometimes you just need to roll your sleeves up and get on with it.
- Limit yourself: Many businesses start small and stay small, because of a failure to dream about the potential of the business. If you feel that you have a great idea, and the ability to take it further, you should look at your “limiting factors” and create a plan to overcome them. For the right business, you can attract funding, a good team, and the sky can be the limit.
- Ignore your personal goals: There is no point having business goals which aren’t in alignment with your personal goals. If your business goal is to be a multi-million pound, international enterprise; it’s unlikely that you will be able to meet a personal goal of spending every minute on a golf course. You need to make sure that your goals are complementary rather than conflicting, otherwise you will find that you will fail at both.
- Try to reinvent the wheel: Don’t try to do what others do better. If you aren’t skilled in marketing, consider hiring a marketing company. If you haven’t had legal training, don’t try to prepare an agreement to save a few pounds. Taking a step back, it could be worth considering whether purchasing a franchise is worthwhile, as many of the steps in setting up a brand and systems have been already done for you.