Having a business idea alone is not enough
Having a business idea is great but turning your idea to a business is awesome. But this awesomeness is followed by tons of work, strong commitment, sleepless nights and it can possibly be ended up by having a burnout syndrome. Well, I don't want to discourage young start-ups and entrepreneurs. Far from it! I am just trying to tell them to do it correctly.
According to Office for National Statistics, the number of incorporated businesses is increasing over 2%. Meanwhile, the community of sole traders shrank about 1.2%. But just to mention that nearly half of start-ups doesn't survive first three years of their business operation. So it is vital to have a proper business plan, including market analysis and cost esteem. Without doubt it is a huge challenge for every start-up or entrepreneur, as they cannot be experts in every area.
First step - Enrich your idea
Very first thing to do is to make a note of your thoughts. Put your customer hat and ask yourself if you would buy your product or service. It is crucial to imagine different scenarios. Tell about your idea to your friends and family and discuss about it with them. Their point of view will enrich your idea and will allow you to improve your idea or finally find out the bottleneck or the weak point. Don't forget to write all down. During this brainstorming phase you will see your idea taking shape.
Second step - Build your team
Many entrepreneurs don't realise that they cannot do everything and be everywhere. It is advisable to find a partner before you write your business plan. The reason is that your partner can be involved in writing the business plan and he/she has enough time to interiorize your idea. In an ideal case, your partner brings skills, knowledge or experiences you don't possess.
Third step - Conduct a research
Whether product or service you and your team have to do some market research. You will need to convince your potential investor why they should invest on you. You will need to be able to answer the questions with a fact and a reasonable argument. How big is your targeted audience? How do you reach your customer? Is your business lucrative? And so forth. Read newspapers, visit local fairs and check statistics. This can be really time-wasting. But it is worth doing this. Use your specific skills to find out more.
Fourth step - Write your business plan
If you think you have enough discussed and built up an appropriate team you trust and can work with and finally have done a detailed market analysis than start writing your business plan. When you have all written down in your pre-business plan phrase, it will be easier to write a comprehensive and logical business plan. Describe well your aims and goals of your business. A big part of any business plan is a prediction which needs to be backed by well researched facts and numbers.
Fifth step - Register your business
This step is the easiest step you can face. There are plenty of company formation services offering 3h company registration services. The most of them provide different packages from £13. Choose an appropriate package which suits you and your business. That will save you time and stress. But it can happen that your desirable business name is not available. In that case you can't do too much unless you contact the business name owner and ask him to sell. It can be costly for you. In the UK, to set up a limited company you need to provide following details:
- Registered office address (It cannot be a PO Box. )
- Company name (you have check first)
- Director Details (you must be 16 years old)
- Shareholder Details
Once you have all these details, you will have your limited company within 3 hours. You can use your home address a registered office address. But the problem is that your given address will be visible to everyone. So it is advisable to have a registered office. Often company formation agents offer registered office service as an addition service.
Sixth step - Find an investment
There are several ways to find an investment.
- There are government initiatives which support entrepreneurs and start-ups. They will pitch your business idea first. If they find your business idea unique and lucrative, they will provide you some access to investors and business offices etc. The drawbacks are, you need to report your progression weekly and very often you need to be present in the office.
- If you have a rich uncle or inherited some money, you are on your own. No one dictates you what to do. But if your business fails, your money is away.
Seventh step - find a right marketing channel
You have a great business plan, your team is awesome and you have a money to spend. Now it is time to let people know how good your product or service is. It is important to choose a right marketing channel to generate leads. To maximize your revenue you should somehow combine different marketing channels. Here are some marketing tools you can use while marketing your service or product:
Online Marketing channels
- Paid advertisement on search engines. They are known as PPC or CPC. In the western countries there are two main search engines (Google & Bing) dominate the market. Depending on your industry, keyword competition the prices vary. Google offer you Search Network and Display Network. In my eyes, search network is less effective because your advert can be easily blocked by a Browser Extension
- Pro: you only pay if someone clicks on your advert
- Pro: can target precisely your customer
- Con: some keywords can cost you a fortune
- Con: Setting up a campaign is too complicated for someone who is not computer literate.
- Search Engine Optimization. When you don't have any website, you are already lost. Even you don't make money through your website, you must have an online presence. It is advisable to engage a professional web designer and search marketer (I don't like the word "seo expert"). Ask around if someone knows a good and reliable search marketer. The majority of the people who sell themselves as a "seo expert" or "web designer" are useless. If you have an online business, SEO will be a big part of it. I always advise entrepreneurs to study SEO basics. It is important to understand what your hired marketer tells.
- Email/newsletter. I personally never liked email adverts. There are many success stories about email marketing but the problem begins with the database. If you are new in the industry where do you get all these email addresses? Many entrepreneurs spend a fortune and buy a list of (in most cases they are rubbish) email addresses. Do not do this. It is waste of money, illegal and immoral. Just to mention, you also need a web designer who designs your newsletter which can cope with various spam filters.
- Social media marketing: It is really up to your business and target audience. If you sell a financial service, you will certainly fail on FB. What I want to say is to choose a right social media platform. Linkedin, FB, Twitter, Pinterest have its advantages and drawbacks.
- Online PR campaigns. If you are able to write a good content or you know someone, you should try it. It will give you a brand lift and awareness and a link juice (in terms of SEO)
Offline Marketing channels
The old fashioned marketing channels still work. You should know your audience and its media behaviour. You can consider TV ads, radio and press. Or banner ads in transports and on the walls. It all depends on your business type and service and product you want to market.
Eighth step - Be prepared for any confusion and unpredicted changes
Theoretically, you should begin to generate money at this stage. But it is not always the case. You always have to monitor all expenses and check if your marketing channels are working. Be always available for clients and try to make a connection. More people you know, more chances you have selling your product or services. Be prepared for any unexpected expenses. It always happens.
Ninth step - Customer Service is the key of success
The market is huge and very competitive. In some cases, the customer service will be your valuable quality. Keep your customer happy. If they are satisfied with the service or product you provide, they will surely recommend you to their friends and colleges etc.
Tenth step - Always be flexible
If you reach this step, you are already a successful entrepreneur or start-up. Congratulations! But please be aware that the market and our society are dynamic. The ability to adapt in a new situation and circumstances will safe you and your business in the forthcoming years.