Six important steps you must consider before launching your business.
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If you have a dream of starting your own business, you’re not alone. Every year, more and more people give up the day job to make the leap into self-employment. 99% of businesses in the UK are small businesses, and with a massive 80 companies formed every hour, the traditional path of sticking to the rat race for your entire working life now has serious competition.
But is self-employment the right decision for you?
Starting your own business could be one of the best decisions you ever make, with greater control over your own day-to-day and potentially big rewards. However, there’s no doubt that it can be challenging, and that it can potentially take a great deal of investment of both time and money.
Before you take the big plunge, business expert Carl Reader recommends answering the following questions honestly.
Are you prepared to take responsibility and take action?
The number one issue I see with startups is probably also the simplest to solve.
Quite simply, running your own business, and everything that comes with it, is down to you. You will need to be a self-starter every single day, and put in all the hours needed to get everything done, from paperwork and finances to marketing and legalities. Nothing will happen unless you make it happen.
Time and time again, I see new ideas and new businesses which never really leave the ground. They are doomed to remain as ideas, purely because the business owner never makes the important leap from planning to action. To be successful in business, you mostly just need to roll your sleeves up and really get on with it. Sometimes things will work. Sometimes they may not. Resilience and persistence are key.
Are you truly prepared?
This doesn’t just mean a business plan. While of course, a well-thought out and prepared plan is important, but there are other practical things you need to ensure are in place first that new business owners often don’t consider.
It’s not just your working life that will be affected. Are your family and friends prepared for the impact on your personal life and indeed, on your financial situation? As in Q1, bear in mind that when you work for yourself, the only person who can really make it a success is you.
This often means entrepreneurs and business owners find themselves working way beyond the 9-5, potentially for little reward, especially early on as you get established.
Ensure you plan your finances and have a contingency fund - nothing adds to the stress of starting a business quite like financial difficulties. Also make sure you give yourself the best chance of success by setting aside space to work, particularly if you intend to work from home.
Finances are usually the biggest source of stress for a start-up
Will your business goals work with your personal goals?
There is no point having business goals which aren’t in alignment with your personal goals. If your business goal is to be a multi-million pound, international enterprise, I’m afraid a personal goal of spending every minute on a golf course is going to be a real challenge.
Whatever your goals in each area, you need to make sure that they are complementary rather than conflicting, otherwise you will find that you will fail at both.
Are you willing to seek help?
Too many new businesses try to cut corners, only to fall down at a later date. There’s no need to spend unnecessarily, but know where your skills are – and most importantly where they’re not.
It’s a waste of your valuable time and money as an entrepreneur to try and do something yourself just for the sake of saving a few quid. Enlist the support of those who can help in the areas your skill set is missing. Whether that’s a marketing company perhaps or paying a legal professional to draw up an agreement - don’t try to do what others do better.
One great option that may suit is looking into whether buying a franchise is worthwhile, as many of the steps in setting up a brand and systems have been already completed to a good standard for you.
Where are your strengths?
Be honest with yourself and consider exactly where your skills and experience can come into play in your business. Then you’re not only prepared personally, but you have a powerful tool to convince customers, suppliers and funders to do business with you.
The other benefit of doing this is that there will always be areas that you are not so skilled in, and this will help you identify the gaps prior to an issue arising. It may be that you need to take a course in keeping your business’s finances in order, for example, so that you have some experience before you have to do it for real (and run the business at the same time!).
Or it may be that rather than trying to do everything yourself, as mentioned above, you should consider whether outsourcing to someone else might be better for you and your business.
Running your own show doesn't have to mean doing all the work
How big are your dreams?
Many businesses start small and stay small, because of they don’t dream enough about the potential of the business. If you’re not keen to grow – that’s fair enough. Most businesses, however, want to do more with their great idea.
If you would like to grow on your success and feel you have the ability to take it further, take a careful look at all your potential limiting factors and create plans to overcome them. For the right business, you can attract funding, a good team, and the sky can be the limit – if that’s what you want.
Running a business requires tenacity, and it’s only natural to be nervous about starting something new. But business isn’t complicated. If you have a clear vision and understanding of your business, there’s no reason you can’t make a living doing what you love.
Having control over every element of your work life, from hours worked to clients you work with, can truly transform your life. The hardest part is making the decision to do it! Roll up your sleeves and work hard, and you can build something you can be truly proud of.