How to start your own business

VV 27 Jan

More than half a million businesses sprang up across the UK in 2014, according to a report from StartUp Britain. With this in mind, we look at what it takes to start your own business and keep it afloat.

Test the market

Before you take the plunge into the world of business, it’s important to find out if your idea is actually viable. Is there a market for your service or product? If so, is it big enough to make the venture a success?

These are questions that need to be answered, so do your homework and carry out extensive market research. You should also determine what marketing, pricing and business model will work for your target market.

Thankfully, research can be done at little or no cost. Focus groups and surveys are great at gauging the attitudes of prospective customers, while sales figures and economic trends can all be found online.

Get your finances in order

You’ll need money if you want to turn your business idea into a reality. But don’t panic if you’re short on cash as there is plenty of financial help out there; you just need to know where to look.

Loans are the most obvious avenue you can go down. Just make sure you can give the bank a realistic cash flow forecast, as well as proof you’ll be able to pay the loan back with interest over time.

Investors may also be willing to lend you their money, plus they bring much-needed experience and knowhow to your business venture, while crowdfunding and grants are other ways of boosting your finances.

Think about location

Location can make or break your business. For instance, it can heavily influence your operating costs as rents vary from area to area, while taxes and regulations also differ depending on the region.

Having to pay more will take a bigger chunk out of your profits, so it pays to find a location that you can afford comfortably. Saying that, you don’t want to set up shop in a place that has limited transport and communication links, even if it’s a lot cheaper than elsewhere.

But you also need to think about competition in a given area. Strong competition – a number of companies selling similar products or services to you – can be very bad for business, denting your sales and turnover.

Establish a presence on social media

Believe it or not, getting your business off the ground is the easy part. Keeping it afloat is a whole different ball game.

VV 27 Jan 2

Having a presence on social media can be a tremendous help to the success and longevity of your company, so get tech savvy and create accounts on the likes of Facebook and Twitter – you won’t regret it!

You’ll be able to promote your product or service at minimal or no cost, not to mention reach thousands of potential customers without leaving your desk. All you need is content to fill your pages.

Do business online

Operating online opens up a number of new doors and opportunities, so you should make the leap as soon as possible.

Your business is just one click away from consumers on the internet. That’s 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you get your marketing right, you could have more buyers than you ever can get in a shop on the high street.

Stock sells while you’re sleeping. You can do business from any part of the world, widening your customer base. What’s more; having a fully operational e-commerce website can help you provide better customer support, equalling better customer satisfaction and increased profitability.

Posted by The Secret Businessman