So you’ve come up with a great idea for a new service or product and have plucked up the courage to start your own business. But now what do you do? Should you leave your paid job to throw all your energy and time into your new business, where do you get funding from and how do you get your first clients?
Here we have outlined some of our key steps and tips to get you started, although not an exhaustive list by any means, we hope it will help you on your journey to thinking about how you will run your business, make your first sale and start to grow your business.
1. Step One: Get a mentor and do some research
Starting a new business can be a scary and sometimes lonely place, but it doesn’t have to be. The first thing we suggest you do is find yourself a mentor - great if you can find someone in your field or area of business who has themselves started off from scratch and built a small or even large empire, if not, a willing friend or colleague with experience in your chosen field who is a good listener will be just as good to lend an ear and some advice during those tough times. They can even help inspire you, lend ideas and keep you motivated during the dark days.
Next step now you have a mentor is to start doing some research about your product or service: find out what the market is like. Who will buy your service or product? Where do they live? How do they shop? Who are your competitors? What is different about your product to your competitors? How will you produce your product or service?
2. Step Two: What type of company do you want to form? And what are the legal and financial risks and obligations you will need to be responsible for? Finding an accountant.
Research the different kinds of company setup and the pros and cons of each so you fully understand your financial reporting obligations, tax obligations and what kind of protection is available should anything go wrong. Make sure you check out companies house (or your country’s equivalent business registration authority) for information about business setup. In the UK you can also form and register your company using a company formation/registration agent such as UK plc .
When meeting with banks about setting up a business bank account, shop around for deals and see what different banks offer small startup businesses. Also don’t forget to ask banks for advice about accountants and which ones they would recommend you use in your local area.
A lot of accountants give a free initial consultation to small business owners, which is a great way of finding out all the information you need to know about tax obligations, VAT and much more - so make sure you go to that meeting armed with a notepad and pen and lots of questions!
3. Step Three: Starting your business. Setting up a website - should you do it yourself or hire a designer? Should you set up social media?
Now you’ve registered your business, got your business bank account and an accountant on standby you are ready to start promoting your business and selling your products. But what do you do next?
The first thing people look for when using a new company is their website and online presence. We recommend one of the very first things you do when starting your business is set up your website. You can either build your own website quickly using a wix template or if you are looking for a bespoke design or functionality, you can hire a wix website design agency such as ourselves. Wix Webmasters such as ourselves are trained and certified by Wix about all the design and functionality features of the wix platform and we have the know-how to make sure your website looks great and is super easy for your customers to use. Good design is good business.
Next you need to set up some social media accounts so your potential customers can find you. We would recommend that you set up a facebook page for your business and a twitter account and then start promoting your business and its products through there. Don’t forget to share your facebook page and twitter handle with your friends and colleagues and ask them to share it with their friends. You will quickly see your social media presence start to grow and you may even get your first sale from a friend or a friend of a friend who followed you on social media.
4. Step Four: Getting your first clients: Where should you look for your first clients? How should you advertise your products?
Your first clients often come from your family or friends, so don’t forget to tell them about your new business and your products. They will often be keen to help and support you and will also promote you to their network of contacts.
You can find clients anywhere at any time, always carry some business cards on you just in case you bump into your new customer on a train or in a coffee shop and you overhear them talking about how they are looking for something related to your business. Politely introduce yourself and mention you have a new business that could be offering exactly what they are looking for and hand them a business card. Don't try and push a sale on them straight away instead use this opportunity as a way of starting a discussion.
Your local area is a great place to start looking for new clients. Make up some leaflets and post some leaflets about your new business around your local neighbourhood. If you are selling a product, why not visit some of your local shops and see if they would be interested in stocking it for you.
Advertising is a great form of marketing your business to people outside of your circle of friends and local area. There are many different types of advertising from online advertising, such as Google adWords which will drive traffic straight to your website, facebook and twitter advertising, as well as newspaper, radio or TV advertising. If you are looking to do a large-scale advertising campaign, we recommend you find a reputable advertising or marketing agency to manage this for you. Large scale advertising campaigns can be very expensive so make sure you employ a trusted ad agency keen to get you good results.
5. Step Five: Don't give up!
If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Running a business can be tough, especially in the early stages when you are setting up your business, learning what services to offer, how to offer them, finding funding and sorting out your business accounts (not to mention working long hours for little or no pay).
But if you have a good idea and believe the service or product you are offering is a useful one, chances are someone else out there will too and will want to pay for it. Every business owner makes mistakes, even Bill Gates, Donald Trump and Steve Jobs. It is through trial and error, and most importantly learning from our mistakes that we make our successes.
The most important customer in a startup business is not the happy repeat customer, it is your unhappy one. Find out why they are unhappy with your service or product, listen to their feedback and if need be make changes to your service or product. Adapt and evolve your product and service to meet the needs of your customer, this is how you will become successful and gain many repeat customers.