How to start your own business

By Toni

The idea of starting your own business is a scary one, especially given the state of the economy and the ‘doom and gloom’ headlines that are constantly splashed across the papers. However, just because it is difficult it doesn’t mean it’s impossible, especially if you’ve had a unique idea for a product or service and are prepared to put the work in to make the business a success.

Firstly, you need a detailed business plan to show to potential investors, outlining what your business is, how it will work and who your main competitors are. A business plan needs to be as comprehensive as possible to show investors that you’ve done your research and know what you’re talking about, but don’t be tempted to ramble on, 20 pages should be enough to get your idea across.

You also need to think about where you’ll get the capital. Many banks offer start-up loans to potential entrepreneurs, but this may not be the right option for you if you’re unwilling to be saddled with a huge debt, or are looking for a little more support. Finding an investor is a great way of financing your business and ensuring that you have someone to turn to for advice should problems arise, but remember that this method means that you will have to sign over a percentage of your company.

Of course, a business would be nowhere without its customers, so marketing your product is an incredibly important task. Use every channel available to drum up publicity, taking full advantage of social networking, blogs and other new media options that are out there. You should also consider giving out special discounts or offers to new customers, as well as employing loyalty schemes to keep the old ones coming back.

Some additional questions to consider when starting a business are: where will you run the business from? Has this location got a good Internet connection? What other products and tools will you need to keep things running smoothly?

Thinking about what you’ll need can be a great way of saving money, many Internet providers, as will utility companies, offer discounts to start-up businesses. If you’re setting up a business that will make use of vehicles, consider getting commercial vehicle insurance to make sure that you are comprehensively covered should the worst happen.

One thing you need to think about is if you’ll be able to make the business work. Running your own company is incredibly time-consuming and if you feel that you won’t be able to commit fully, or may need added support, it may not be the best option for you. Consider the logistics of making your business work and if you’re the right person to work alone. Do you get easily distracted? Do you like having people around to bounce ideas off? If you think you can make the business a success then go ahead, however don’t take risks if you’re unsure as the fallout could be costly.

Whatever idea you’ve had, starting your own business can be one of the most exhilarating things you’ll ever do. It may be hard work at times but working for yourself can also be a wonderfully rewarding way to make money. The key thing to starting up a business is to be incredibly organised, leave nothing to chance, and make sure you write everything down to ensure you don’t lose something vital.