How many of us have dreamed of being self-employed? Working for yourself, starting the day when you want, avoiding difficult co-workers… there are definitely perks to owning your own business.
However, starting up can be extremely difficult – where do you even start?
A business starts with an idea but then the real work begins
Your business should provide a product or service that people want or need and and it should turn a profit. These are often both the hardest and easiest things to figure out when starting your small business journey.
Often, new business ventures can take a while to turn a profit so you really should consider what other sources of capital are available to you while you’re making it happen.
Passion and drive for a product (whilst essential) cannot sustain a business. What you need is a way to stay motivated through the highs and lows of #smallbusinesslife.
What about capital?
How do you plan to fund your business? If you’re lucky enough to have a nest egg tucked a way, you’re all set but for people with other commitments, like children and a mortgage, personally financing a business may not be possible. There are a few options available besides personal finance.
- Crowdfunding: Crowdfunding is the ultimate test of whether the public believes enough in a product to invest in it.
- Keep working at it: continuing your existing job while working on the business is not the ideal solution but it is reality for many entrepreneurs. It means long hours and really good time management.
- Small business loans: having the ability to draw on an available line of credit or similar loan can mean the difference between success and failure – especially if unforeseen expenditures pop up.
- Friends with deep pockets – Easy and fast, little paperwork, and inexpensive, these loans come from the people who know you best, they know how hard you work and what they are investing in. In order to keep things professional, it is important to make clear agreements and lay out all conditions officially beforehand.
After you open shop, what’s your plan?
You’ve tested your product and sorted out the logistics – you have an ABN, a name you love and you understand your tax obligations. So what happens when you finally open up and get to business?
It’s important to have a plan in place, for the whole business – your staff, product, cash flow… all of it.
Even if it seems premature or self explanatory, a plan allows you to look ahead and pivot or readjust as needed. Ultimately, planning is a valuable tool to track your business’ growth.
As your business grows out of the initial frenzied creation stage, look towards outsourcing as much activity as you can. This frees up your time to focus on where you can personally add the most value to your business. If you’re a born sales gun get to selling, great with words, handle the marketing. As Chris Savage says “understand what you’re good at. And what you’re not.”
Although you may be tempted to take on the accounting, legal, and marketing work by yourself to save some coin, the expense of hiring a dedicated professional will be worth it in the end.
How will you create a buzz?
Oftentimes, small business owners get caught up in the excitement of running a business that they forget about marketing. Good marketing doesn’t have to be a huge expenditure. With technology and the boom of social media platforms, it’s possible to run effective marketing campaigns with very little expenditure.
Because so much of our lives are conducted online, your business needs to be searchable (and find-able). Your customers will Google your number, your address, your products.
Social media for small businesses is an incredible resource and can supplement word-of-mouth marketing generated from a loyal customer base. Need advice? Check out our guide to branding your small business.
Ultimately, starting your own business involves a lot of hard work and dedication. The road to success often seems unending and there will never be a shortage of moments that make you want to quit. But leaving the 9-5 job and throwing yourself into the world of small business comes with a set of incredible personal and social benefits.
There are so many resources available for small business owners that it is hard to say that anyone is truly alone in their small business journey. From peer groups online dedicated to building up small business owners, to government initiatives and grants.
Originally published July 4 2016 , updated May 3 2017