Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.
Deciding to go into business for yourself is one of the biggest decisions a person can make in their lifetime. Stepping out of the typical workaday world and taking control of your career can be very exciting. But it can also be seriously scary. There are risks that come with striking out on your own that, while working as an employee, you might never have even thought of. This is not something that should be undertaken lightly. It will take an enormous amount of work, patience and dedication.
You will come up against roadblocks, complications and something it might even be enough to make you feel like packing it all in completely. But if you’re willing to put in the time and effort then the rewards that you reap can be enormous. Getting to take charge and get your business running the way you want can be an amazing and profitable experience. So, if you’re dead set on going into business for yourself, here are just a few tips that you’re going to want to follow to ensure that your business is a success.
- Remember, you don’t know everything: Sometimes it might even feel like you don’t know anything. When you’re first starting out it can seem seriously intimidating. For many people, it can be scary enough to stop them before they even get started. But don’t let yourself get discouraged. Just remember that every great business in the world began as nothing more than an idea and some ambition. If you have the drive to learn and to adapt then, that’s all you need. Most business owners will come up against things they’ve never seen before pretty frequently. The ability to learn on the job and look to people with more knowledge when you need them is one of the most important parts of running any business.
- Focus on what’s important: It’s far too easy to get wrapped up in small jobs and busy work right at the start. This is because they allow you to feel like you’re accomplishing something without actually having to face up to the tough stuff. Designing business cards and logos (we can help!) can wait, so can social media. Things like that can wait until after you’ve built your business into something worth marketing. If you don’t actually have a business in the first place, then all the fancy branding in the world isn’t going to make the slightest bit of difference.
- Get serious: If you want your dream to become a business, then treat it like a business. Don’t deal with it like a hobby or something fun to do on the side. You need to take your venture seriously if you want the world to do the same. The best thing to do is set it up as a company through a service like Your Company Formations. That way you can get your certificate of incorporation and a registered office. These things might not sound like the most glamorous aspects of running a business. But they can go a long way to legitimizing your business. If you’re able to show people that you take your business seriously then so will they.
- Research your market: For a business to be viable, there has to be a market for it. Now that might sound obvious, but it’s shocking how many people go forward with a business plan simply because they have faith in their idea. The truth is, no matter how much you love your idea, if there’s no market for it, it’s not a viable business. The best possible way to figure out if there is a market out there is to conduct research. This can take the form of focus groups, questionnaires, and analysis of your competition. Find out if there’s a need for what you will be offering and if there’s a gap in the market for it. Once you’ve established whether there is a market for your business you need to figure out where your demographic lies. Don’t just limit yourself to the basics either. Go deeper than the obvious stuff like age and gender. Paint a vivid picture of your target audience so that you can provide them with the best possible product. This also helps when it comes time to market your business, allowing you to focus your efforts where they will be most useful.
- Get planning: If you tried to build a house but decided you didn’t need a blueprint, it would probably last less than an hour before the roof caved in. A business without a plan is the same thing. A well-constructed business plan allows you to create the clearest picture of what you want your business to do and represent. This can be hugely valuable when meeting with potential investors. Investors want to put money behind things that have real potential. If all you have to show them is an idea and your ambition, they’ll probably end up showing you the door. A thought out business plan also allows you to set yourself up to deal with any unexpected problems that you might come across.
- Sort out your finances: Businesses need money. That’s just a fact of life. The best thing that you can do is get your accounting and cash flow system in order as quickly as possible. That way you won’t find yourself swimming in receipts and invoices before the end of the first month. It’s worth considering whether you should take on an accountant. The last thing you want is to spend your life dealing with the accounts instead of effectively building your business. That financial investment of outsourcing that task can end up paying off in the long run.
No matter what you do, there will always be things that crop up that you weren’t able to plan for. The key is to make sure that you’re as prepared as possible so that when that does happen, you’re in a secure enough position to deal with it. By following these simple pieces of advice, you’re sure to have a solid foundation upon which to build a vibrant and fruitful business.