By Jessica Foreman
Every year 100 million new business are launched across the globe. That’s the equivalent of just over three businesses every second, or 11,000 per hour. It is, therefore, a common experience. Yet, for all those 100 million businesses, there’s an awful lot to get right if they’re avoid adding to the numbers of the firms that just don’t make it.
It’s not possible to list everything you’ll need to do when starting out with a new business — that depends on you and your circumstances — but there are some key things everyone needs to get right if they’re to stand a chance of success. Following are eight areas that need to be on your radar.
Never lose sight of who you’re doing it all for. Your business needs to deliver a product or service people want and are willing to pay for. With that in mind, you need to find out as much as is humanly possible about your target customers. What do they want? Where do they currently get it from? How do they research their purchases? What price will they pay? What are their hobbies and interest beyond your particular field?
What is your plan for your business? What are your targets for the first three, six or nine months? Where do you want to be in five years? How will you measure success? What is the essence of your business and how will you make a success of it? All these key questions need to be spelled out in a plan (you might even need one of these to persuade a bank to part with some cash). Even if you think you know what you want to do, force yourself to commit it to paper (or a digital document) as the process of writing it all out will crystallize your thoughts.
It’s important to try to learn from the people who have “been there, done that” and can help you avoid any common mistakes. If you know someone who fits the bill, try to tap into their knowledge bank as often as possible. Whether formal or informal, mentors can be worth their weight in gold.
You might think your product or service is great — and you might be right — but that’s no good to you if no one knows about it. You need to have a plan in place to market your business which, thanks to the advent of social media and the internet, is possible even for those with a very limited budget.
Your website is your most effective marketing tool so it’s important to get this right. For some businesses, a website is a platform to sell to customers; for others it’s a signposting tool to help people to find them. Whichever it is, make sure you spend time doing this properly, starting with domain name registration to ensure your site is easy to find and associate with your business.
It’s not only your customer who you need to know inside out, it’s also your competitors. Make it your business to find out how they operate, what they do well, and what they don’t do so well.
You can’t do everything yourself. That means that you might well need to employ others to help you to realize your vision. If that’s the case, take time to think about the skills you need — focusing on the things you can’t do — and consider the cost involved in drafting in others so you don’t stretch your budget too far.
Speaking about money, you’re going to need an accountant who will make sure you can cope with the paperwork mountain that awaits and that your books are in order. Find someone you can trust and stick with them.
Jessica Foreman is a Durham University graduate specializing in business and lifestyle based writing. She has developed her skills on projects surrounding The British Broadcasting Company and running a print and online based magazine whilst at university. She is currently looking towards starting her Masters in Mobile and Personal Communications as well as broadening her horizons through traveling.