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There are a million different ways to grow your business, which include investing in your customer service and getting personal. Researching the market, hire good people and make a superior product and you'll be on your way to build the empire you always dreamed about.
Although it can seem that setting up your own business is a long and complicated process, the reality is that it just comes down to a few simple, but crucial, steps.
This article details each of those steps, giving you a direct plan of action so you can get your new exciting new venture up and running in no time at all:
1. Write a Business Plan
There’s a misconception that a business plan is only needed for securing funds from your bank manager or a potential investor. However, in truth, they’re for you more than anyone else, as a well-thought-out plan provides greater clarity about every aspect of your business.
As the saying goes, ‘until it’s on paper, its vapor,’ meaning it’s vital to have your goals and ideas written down, instead of swirling around your head.
There are lots of ways to create a business plan, but a good one should contain at least the following:
Products and Services
- What are you selling?
- How much for?
- What is your target market?
- Who is your ideal customer?
- What needs are you fulfilling for them?
- What problem do you solve for them?
- Who are your main competitors?
- Who’s your local competition?
- Who are the market leaders?
- How does what you plan to charge compared to what they charge?
- How are you different?
- What’s your unique selling point (USP)?
- How will you market yourself?
- How will you brand yourself?
- When do you expect to start trading?
- When do you expect to generate revenue?
- When do you expect to break even?
2. Create Financial Forecasts
Another important aspect of starting a business is creating a financial forecast, which includes your projected costs and income.
These are costs associated with getting up and running, many of which will be one-off expenses. This may include things like buying equipment and vehicles, branding, setting up a website, paying for licenses and permits, etc.
These are ongoing costs that roughly stay the same, regardless of your business activity. These typically includes things like rent, staff costs (though these can be variable too), insurance, subscriptions, and so on.
These are the ongoing costs that change according to how much of your product or service you’re able to sell. This includes raw materials, utility bills, delivery charges, and so forth.
You will also want to look at sales forecasts. A sales forecast is a prediction of how much you’ll sell within a set timeframe, which is usually at least a year on a month by month basis.
Now, if you’re thinking ‘how can I know how much I’ll sell?!,’ don’t be dismayed; they’re meant to act as an educated guess at best. The best approach is to be as conservative as possible, so you have a better picture of your costs and, more importantly, cash flow.
Besides, when you get up and running, you can always change it – and hopefully, it’ll be because you were too pessimistic!
3. Get a Website
Today, having a website isn’t something that’s merely nice to have, it’s crucial. It’s become the norm to such a degree, that potential customers will be suspicious if you don’t have one. People turn to search engines, like Google, to find products and services every day – so if you’re not online, you’re simply not being seen.
When you’re building your site it’s also important to remember that people are increasingly searching and buying through their phone, so it needs to look good and run smoothly on a mobile browser. This can be the difference between a customer choosing you over your competition.
4. Understand Social Media
Closely related to having a website is having a social media strategy. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube, are a great way to market yourself, share content that’s of interest to your customer base, and build the authority and relatability of your brand.
The first step in any strategy is researching the different platforms and determining which ones best suit your business and are most used by your target audience.
5. Decide Where You Need Help
One of the most crucial things to learn when running your own company, and one that some business owners never grasp, is that you can’t do everything yourself. The good news is that in today’s technology-driven landscape, you don’t have to hire members of staff to carry out vital day-to-day tasks, you can go virtual.
There are lots of professional service provides that you can hire on both an ongoing and ad-hoc basis. Here are a few instances of where you might hire someone to help with your business:
- A web designer to set up and maintain your website.
- An accountant to help with your business registration, bookkeeping, and taxes.
- A phone answering service to give your company a professional front and ensure your calls are always answered
- A social media manager to create a strategy and post to different platforms.
- A graphic designer to create logos and stationery
It’s important to delegate, where and when possible, so it’s wise to get into the habit as early as you can. It’s an invaluable skill for when your business, inevitably, starts to grow!
These five steps should help to demystify the process of setting up a business. As you complete each one, you’ll start to gather momentum, build confidence, and your path to business success will become increasingly clearer.
Author: Cleo Chaisty
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