We have spoken to many people over the last month who are looking to set up a new business. Some have sadly been made redundant and are looking to build a business for themselves at home, others are looking to create a new business alongside employed work and for others they are looking for a better work life balance.
During 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people have been turning to freelance work and more companies are becoming open to using freelancers as a normal way of working. This is an exciting opportunity for many people. But it can also be a daunting time.
To help we have come up with our top 10 tips on what we think you should do when starting your own business.
Top 10 tips on starting your own business
1. The Idea
It doesn’t always have to be something completely brand new. The majority of businesses aren’t new concepts but often they are simply improvements in the products or the services already being offered. You may have the skills and knowledge and know exactly what you want to do or you may want to start a business but haven’t decided on what to offer. Either way, carrying out a brainstorming exercise may help cement your decision.
- Include people with diverse thoughts and backgrounds and people who are going to challenge you.
- Make sure that you plan your brainstorming session beforehand. Be clear on what you want to get from the session; have all the tools ready that you might need i.e. paper, pens, whiteboards, laptops; make the space you are using comfortable.
- Encourage all ideas. No idea is a bad idea and you never know where inspiration will come from.
- Use mood boards and word clouds. Don’t be afraid to play around with words and pull together a mood board to start getting a real feel for your brand and what you are looking to create.
2. Do Your Research
Before you jump straight in, it is always advised to carry out some in-depth research to ensure that your new business can make an impact. We would recommend you consider the following:
- Competitors – Think about who your competitors are, what are they doing, how long have they been established? Are there any new emerging competitors you need to be aware of? What do your competitors offer and how can you do something better or different that customers are going to want? What will your USP (unique selling point) be?
- Target Audience – Who will your target audience be? Is there a niche that you can focus on where you can deliver something not currently being delivered? What is the demand? How much disposable income do they have, how much can they afford to spend on your products or services?
- Validate your idea – Speak to people in your target audience to gauge their interest and demand for your business. Sometimes we might think that something is an amazing idea but others may not share that view.
- Business name – use your research to identify possible names for your business, see what resonates with your audience – you’ll need a few ideas as you’ll be surprised at how many ‘unique’ names are already taken.
3. Create a Business Plan
This doesn’t need to be complicated but it is essential for any new company that you have a business plan in place. It helps to guide you through the various stages from setting up your business through to launch and then growth. It makes you think about how you are going to set your business up and what you need to have in place (i.e. premises, equipment, insurance), how and when you are going to advertise your business to reach your target audience and how much it will cost you do to that.
Through the plan you will be able to map out at what points in your business growth you may potentially need to take on staff or outsourced support, get larger premises or spend more on marketing.
It also helps ensure that you don’t miss anything in your planning and helps your tick everything off before you go live.
4. Set Goals
This is a vital part of the process in starting your own business, yet sometimes pushed to one side. Identify what you want to achieve in the short, medium and long term. This will then help you keep a clear focus on what you are aiming to achieve. Breaking goals down to bite size chunks will be less daunting and more achievable than purely focusing on the end goal.
The businesses that carry out thorough planning and don’t rush ahead are often the ones that survive. Think about what you want to achieve in the next 3 months, 6 months, year, 3 years, 5 years etc.
5. Think of your Finances
Being clear on what your launch and ongoing costs will be is an important part of your business plan. Below are some questions that we would recommend you consider thoroughly:
- Do you need to pay rent for premises?
- Do you need staff?
- Will there be legal costs involved in setting your business up?
- Will you be creating a website and what type do you need?
- Do you need to buy equipment, a laptop or other specialist machinery?
- How quickly do you need to start making money?
- How will you support yourself while you set the business up?
- Will you need investment? You might want to consider bank loans; small business loans; angel investors; grants; crowdfunding; the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
- Is there a monthly budget you need to spend on marketing?
- Finally, you will need to set up a business bank account so shop around for the best deals.
6. Your Shop Window
When setting up a business you need to make sure that you create as much visibility of your business as possible. You need to get your brand in front of the right audience. So, how will people find your business? Will you have premises, a physical shop front? or do you plan to be 100% online? Will you be selling via third party sites like eBay and Amazon?
Regardless of whether you have a physical presence or decide to be online only, having a good customer friendly website is essential nowadays. A website doesn’t need to be expensive. There are many platforms offering inexpensive and very straightforward ways to create a simple but efficient website using templates. And if you want a more bespoke look and feel, we can help. It’s very easy to create a fantastic website with any budget.
Your website is often the first impression that people will have of your brand and business so ensure that it is a good one. Here is another useful guide to getting your website noticed.
7. Register your Business
Having worked with many brands, we know that sometimes you can come up with the most obscure and fantastic business name only to find out that someone else has beaten you to it. So make sure you have checked that the company name you have chosen is available. An easy way to do this is via a domain registration site like 123Reg or Go Daddy and you can also check using Companies House.
Does your product or brand need trademarking or a patent? If you have an amazing product or very distinctive brand name then getting it trademarked or patented will offer you some protection from competitors. It is sometimes a requirement of investors too.
You also need to consider how you will set up your business. Do you launch as a sole trader, limited company or partnership? There are several options to explore, so weigh up the pros and cons of each before you decide which approach is best for you.
8. Partnerships and Contacts
One way to get your brand noticed quickly is to look at potential partnerships with other more established brands. Are there companies that you can work with who offer a complementary service or product? Could you set up a reciprocal agreement?
You may have already established useful contacts over the years. Capitalising on these is a good way to get your business off the ground. Ask your contacts, friends and family to share news about your business. A great way to do this is through social media which we discuss more in tip 10.
Nowadays there are huge number of networking companies and networking events that you can look to join or attend. Some may be local to your area and others may operate on a more national basis. Many hold regular webinars and seminars where you can network with people from your industry and potential customers. These networking groups are also a great way to get your brand out there and for you to keep abreast of what is going on in your industry.
You could offer to be a speaker/presenter at one of the events or you could have a stand with the aim of garnering as many new contacts as possible.
If you are a new freelancer there are many online freelance sites you could consider. They offer pay as you go work when you need it. But be careful, sometimes you have to pay a subscription or a fee in order to bid for work.
10. Social Media and Emails
In today’s digital age, not many companies can get away without have a social media presence. And for many it can be an inexpensive way of getting a brand in front of lots of people. The social channels are becoming more and more sophisticated making it possible to be more targeted in your advertising. This means you can spend your marketing budget in a more focused and efficient way.
One great tip is to write a white paper or guide based on something you know your target audience would be interested in and then ask them to subscribe in order to receive the guide. You can then start to build a prospect pool of potential customers. You could also run a social media campaign using prize draws which you push out across your social channels using # hashtags # to get people’s attention.
As soon as you start receiving customer data or prospect data then look at building an email campaign. Keep them informed, offering them promotions and keep your brand front of mind.
FREE 30 Minute Consultation – get in touch
We are delighted to be offering businesses a free 30 minute consultation. If you would like further help in setting up your business, brainstorming ideas or any aspect of marketing, please get in touch.
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