Becoming your own boss and socking it to the man (whoever the man is) can be life affirming. You are freeing yourself from the shackles of full time employment to go it alone and strive for financial freedom.
Sure, you’re saying goodbye to your steady wage, your office colleagues and your high flying career, but you’re saying hello to working from home, being your own boss, and taking more control over your work life balance.
Every year, more people are choosing to turn their backs on being an employee in an effort to become self employed.
Entrepreneurship is a tricky art to master. Just because you have a fantastic business idea, you have the funds to launch your startup, and you have a little black book of valuable contacts doesn’t mean that you will make a success of your money making venture.
You will have to endure long hours initially, you will have to encounter the worry over where your next paycheck will come from, and you will no doubt have to say a fond farewell to your social life for the time being.
The first few months along the startup road are bumpy, hard to adapt to and will leave you wondering why on Earth you left a career that you worked so hard for behind.
However, you must keep the bigger picture in sight. Remember your end goal. You want to develop a business that has longevity and that will enhance your quality of life and finances. Take a look at these aspects of entrepreneurship that you will quickly need to master.
The Business Plan
Forget those scrappy bits of paper that you’ve been making notes on, and think about downloading a template to start putting your thoughts and ideas into some sort of order. A business plan is vital for any successful startup.
This working document should be your bible. It should detail your funding routes, your financial projections, your digital marketing strategy, your overheads as well as your ethos and business vision.
Without a business plan it will be very difficult to head into your bank and apply for a business loan. A business plan is integral to your startup.
When looking at the funding of your business, you need to consider how much you need and where you will spend the cash. Any bank manager you make an appointment with will want to know how you arrived at these figures.
Use precedents and research to prove your projections with facts. A lick of a finger stuck in the wind simply won’t cut it.
A bank manager isn’t the only source of funding you should be considering. Yes, it’s the most traditional, but why not consider the benefits of having a business angel on board? These individuals are industry experts and come with their insider knowledge, advice, and network, as well as their money.
Any investment from a business angel is a real validation of your idea and should fill you with confidence. After all, they will only ever invest their hard earned cash into an idea that they see making a decent return.
When pitching your business idea for investment, whether to a bank manager or business angel, you need to have your business plan with you. Any potential investor will scrutinise your figures and delve deeply into your risk mitigation and future outlook.
Wear formal and smart clothes, polish your shoes and go and have a haircut. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so don’t turn up in a tee shirt and jeans. Practise your pitch, check out YouTube videos to help you with eye contact, hand gestures and audience engagement.
If you’ve been an accountant or HR advisor in a previous career, the chances are that you haven’t had much practice at public speaking. Nerves can get the better of you quite easily.
Simply remember that you know your facts and figures like the back of your hand and you’ve anticipated every possible question. Make sure that you know your gross from your net and you can justify every aspect of your business plan.
Business Set Up
Initially, you will have to work out how you will structure your business. You could choose to go it alone as a sole trader and remain taxed as an individual. Your accounts are easy to file and all you need is a simple income and outgoings spreadsheet complete with receipts to show any auditor you are keeping track of your finances.
This is a decent option for those individuals who don’t foresee their business making a great deal of revenue in the short term.
However, if you have grander plans and want to be more tax efficient, you should look into the benefits to forming an LLC instead. A limited liability company means that your business finances and liabilities are entirely separate from your personal ones.
Compliance is simple, yet highly tax efficient meaning that your startup can retain more of its profits for reinvestment. This is a sound option for those viewing their money making venture as a long term journey and with expansion in mind.
You may have the finest business idea in the world, but if no one knows about it then what is the point in having it. This is where your marketing strategy needs to take centre stage.
In the twenty first century, billboards, radio jingles, and TV commercials have taken a backseat to the more millennial method of communication - social media. The explosion of social media channels have given business a perfect vehicle from which to market their wares and gain exposure to a worldwide audience.
If you don’t already have Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, it’s vital that you sign up immediately. The platforms enable you to show off your products in all their glory, detail the services you provide and converse with your potential customers like never before.
If you post a link to your latest business blog post on your Twitter feed, you may be surprised when people start commenting on the piece. Be prompt and respond in kind.
By developing this less formal rapport and breaking down the company/customer barrier you will enhance your reputation, develop a greater following and see a surge in traffic to your website.
If this social media lark sounds like too much hard work and you feel like you won’t have the time to continually update your feeds, then consider hiring a social media manager. These freelancers will work with you to find your business voice, and post relevant and meaningful content daily to help you achieve your marketing goals.
Alongside your social media channels, you should also be looking to your website. This is the little patch of the Internet that belongs to your startup so make it stand out. Utilise your branding, show off your logo and emulate your ethos through your site.
Make sure it is intuitive, easy to navigate, aesthetically pleasing and user friendly. There is so much competition with your sector, that you need to make sure the menus are easy to understand, otherwise your clientele will go elsewhere.
Ensure that you have SEO enabled content to enhance your standing within the Google search results by utilising keywords and a potential ad campaign. Maximising your online presence is a vital part of your digital strategy and will help to future proof your business.
Businesses in the twenty first century live or die by their reputation. It’s all too easy now for potential customers to Google your business name to be presented with a whole host of social media links and review sites detailing your customers’ feedback.
Are you providing an exceptional customer experience? You need to ensure that you have a policy of under promising and over delivering. If you know that you can print a custom made tee shirt and have it delivered with two days, state that you will have it delivered within three days.
This way, when it shows up on your customer’s doorstep twenty four hours early, they will be over the moon thinking that you have gone above and beyond the call of duty.
Slip some cheap freebies into your well packaged items. Make sure you use a well respected courier, and don’t be afraid to follow up every purchase with a courtesy email.
By showing your customers that you care about their experience, you will maximise the chances of them leaving a positive review online for other potential customers to view.
Building a solid reputation will enhance your presence online and make repeat custom more likely. Word of mouth is still hugely important but so is the Internet for impartial and globally seen reviews.
Being an entrepreneur sounds glamorous, but to make a success of your business you need to put in the hours, hard graft and focus initially. It can be difficult to prioritise your ideas and tasks when the sheer variety and quantity of the stuff you need to get done feels overwhelming.
However, this is where your business plan helps you. While launching a business is difficult, you completed the scariest step when you left full time employment. Follow this guide, and you will soon be mastering the art of entrepreneurship.