As we pass a quarter of the way through the 2020’s it is a colossal understatement to say things have not gone quite as we might have expected. Few saw the pandemic coming and nobody, could have anticipated its staggering global consequences. Thankfully, there has been a calming of people losing their lives, but the financial melt-down that the virus brought with it, is now hitting home with increasing effect. Job losses are inevitably accelerating, so more and more individuals are either finding their jobs under threat, or are already out of work and accordingly, many are seeking employment elsewhere, but in the present climate, that also can be a real challenge.
Reevaluation of work status
In addition, there are others who may have reevaluated their lives during the lockdown’s. In the UK they may have benefited from the government’s furlough scheme, allowing them to be on paid leave for an extended period of time, or perhaps working from home, but are now finding uncertainty in their roles, moving forward. Many are seeing life quite differently now and as a consequence, they are considering the possibility of starting their own business, utilising their existing skills and grasping an opportunity that has arisen out of unforeseen circumstances. Theory and practice however, are two entirely different things, meaning there is naturally some apprehension about branching out alone; but genuinely, with a sensible approach and a commitment to good working practices, there is every reason for optimism.
Admittedly, the very thought of starting up a business can be both exciting and daunting in equal measures. There is of course no specific, singular path that will lead to that winning formula; but the intoxicating desire to make a success of a new enterprise can only be satisfied if the undertaking is approached with significant forethought. The drawbacks that will almost certainly occur along the way, will have to be negotiated in a rational, collected manner and not be allowed to disturb the steely focus that is required, or overwhelm the clear vision, which is similarly essential.
The essential business plan
Passion and drive can carry people a long way, but without sufficient research and a proper business plan, even the most fantastic of ideas is likely to prove too challenging. The expression: “if you fail to plan you are planning to fail” should be quoted and highlighted in bold letters on the first page of any budding entrepreneur’s start-up manual and re-visited on a regular basis; because thorough preparation is fundamental to allow any venture to succeed.
Creating a roadmap with the targetted goals, set out in a realistic, feasible time-frame, will help to concentrate the mind towards the short and long term aims and objectives of the business; whilst at the same time identifying potential risk and reward, should it need to be adjusted dramatically, one way or the other. Initially, and indeed moving forward too, there will be a need to invest in personal knowledge of whatever the product, or service might be. However, that is an important key ingredient, because individual expertise and appreciation of a commodity, is highly likely to have been the driving force behind the leap towards becoming a business owner, in the first place.
Believe in an idea
There are many myths associated with being the owner of a new business, that can often discourage a potentially great scheme, before it has even been given a chance to flourish. It is frequently believed by some, that to be a founder of a fresh organization, there is a prerequisite to have the relevant qualifications, together with stacks of experience to fall back on. Naturally, possessing each of these will be an advantage, but for many the best business strategy is to follow intuition.
Similarly, many consider it to be true that in excess of 80% of new start-up’s fail in their first year, when in actual fact, research undertaken strongly indicates that the majority of new businesses trade for five years and beyond. Also, there is a perception that it can take a long time to get a company off the ground; but if the owner has a plan in place and is fully motivated, then there is certainly no hidden reasons for it to be unable to launch relatively quickly.
Additionally, there is a school of thought that leads people to be of the opinion that unless the business idea is completely revolutionary, then it probably is not worth pushing ahead with. Granted, should somebody come up with something that will change the world, then that would be incredible; but sadly those sort of ideas are few and far between. However, by taking an existing concept and adapting, or improving on it somehow, it can and often does, prove to be a very successful formula.
Working to budgets
Financial constraints also play a big part in early hesitancy in taking the plunge and diving into a new start-up. Whilst this is obviously of importance, working within a tight budget can actually be advantageous in the long run, as it creates a more business educated mindset, growing and scaling steadily. Starting from a larger budget can sometimes lend itself to bad investment and poor decision making. Learning the basics with regard to bookkeeping, will enable any would-be business owner to keep an eye on their cash flow and turnover – even before employing the services of an accountant – and allow strategic decisions to be made with more confidence and in a timely fashion.
Helpful reference points
Being a successful entrepreneur brings with it a great source of pride, and in many cases, a desire to share the experience with those aspiring to take the journey themselves. There are numerous publications offering key advice and fascinating insight, to assist opportunists at whatever level their start-up currently sits. In magazines readily available, such as: Forbes, The Economist, Entrepreneur, Fortune, The Black EOE Journal, Harvard Business Review and Inc., in-depth analysis, case studies, industry overviews and emerging technologies, all feature regularly. In addition, interviews are conducted with hugely successful people, who openly discuss their own rise to the top of their specific field and happily pass on tips on topics ranging from innovation and effective leadership, to monitoring of competition and negotiation skills.
One step at a time
Advertising is a key element for any new business and social media is most definitely a powerful ally to rely upon, not just when the the company is in its infancy, but also as it grows. Marketing on all of the regular platforms allows unprecedented reach, and in most cases it is free of charge. Savings can also be made by wearing as many hats as possible… for as long as possible. Increasing staff numbers should only be considered once the workload becomes too much for just one person. Basically, a new business owner should attempt to be as productive as they can under their own steam, and when the time does come to expand, they should initially look to hire freelancers, or such like, rather than full-time employees, as this will enable the business to attain profitability in a much shorter time-frame.
The importance of identity
Naming the business is also something that should be given a huge amount significance. The wrong name can be damaging, both from a legal and a progressive standpoint. Any name that is tricky to spell ought to be swerved, unless absolutely necessary. Equally anything that limits growth moving forward, needs to be avoided. Trademark searches are advisable to steer clear of any potential conflicts further down the line. Many businesses find that a good way of finding the name with the right fit, is to identify four or five and test them on prospective clients and partners.
Uniqueness is very much a key facet to any new business. Being able to stand out from competitors through a USP can greatly assist growth. Therefore, if the business owner can drive that uniqueness deep into the essence of the organization and as a consequence, create an identity that can attract returning customers, it can go a long way towards developing a highly successful business. Finding a niche, or some form of innovative, cutting-edge distinction, can put a business ahead of the crowd, with potential for long-term viability, and it allows for a loyal customer base to develop and subsequently, a referral system to build up.
The basic keys to success in starting a new business are to plan carefully and develop a unique product or service, at the right pace. Invest in your own existing knowledge of that concept and have genuine belief, not just in the business, but in yourself too. By creating a roadmap from the off, it will be possible to plot the route ahead, whilst taking advantage of the advertising and marketing tools freely available. It is important to see through the many misconceptions that exist, but listening to advise from other successful entrepreneurs, with their own specialized expertise, is crucial.
Adopting a positive mindset, when starting up a new business is absolutely vital. If an individual is able to picture themselves as somebody who is going to succeed, then success is ultimately going to come to them a lot easier than someone who is tentative, with negative overtones and basically doubting themselves. Being a business owner means that ultimately, you control the amount of success that comes your way; consequently if you think success… success should follow.