New Year, New Business?

It’s time for part three of our January specials on New Year Resolutions whether you’re sticking religiously to yours, have already had a blip or are ‘about-to-begin’. If starting your own business is top of your resolution list in 2015 –  this blog is for you.

Yep. There’s nothing like being your own boss. You tell yourself what to do, work to your own schedule and generally have control of your life. At least that’s the theory. So here’s our quick guide to get your new business idea in 2015 off to a successful start. 

There’s not much in life more exciting than striking out on your own. Running your own business is a roller-coaster of experience, but ultimately you’re in control of it. There are lots of reasons why having your own business might have become a must do for you. Perhaps the stress of your current job (or the people you work with) have just become too much. Maybe you’re one of the hundred’s of thousands of people who have faced redundancy over the past year, perhaps you’ve just decided that you’d like to set your own agenda. But where do you start – apart from with an idea or a passion?

Be crystal clear about what your business is.

Write a brief for what your business will offer – it’s proposition. What’s at its heart. Is it product or  service based (or both). What problem or interest will you be serving your customers?

Get into your customers heads

Challenge yourself as to who your customers are or will be. Write one or more profiles of a typical customer. If you can empathise with their needs or share a common interest, you’re likely to build a strong business.

Keep within your limits

The temptation for a new business is to take on every bit of work available, or commit to as many orders as people want. It’s a tricky tightrope to walk – but make sure you can meet demand (whether that’s for a service or products(s)). If you can’t, your business won’t last long as you’ll gain a reputation as someone who doesn’t live up to their promise.

You might also find it tempting to expand your business remit. That’s fine if it is a natural evolution and there’s space in the working day, but beware it being a distraction rather than a genuine business opportunity.

Recognise your differences & use them to advantage

Differentiation is a big and important word in business. Identifying what makes your business different – and more importantly better – from your competitors is what will set you apart. Doing this will help you figure out your market position – are you an Apple or a Samsung, a Mercedes or a Skoda?

Build a Brand, Baby

You’ll here the word brand used to describe the character of a business. It’s not just the logo and colour scheme – it’s really the whole personality of the operation throughout all parts of the customer experience.  Make sure your

Bill what you’re worth

There’s a phrase – ‘busy fools’ – which means working hard, but not making living out of it.  Make sure you set your price points and margins at a level that will make you a living. Unless you are offering something significantly better, don’t be too greedy – as overpricing will mean you will be undercut by competitors (as sure fire way to go out of business fast), but also make sure you don’t compete so hard that you run at a loss. Getting their pricing wrong see’s many businesses fold.

Sort your premises, processes and logistics

Whether you’re offering service, or products (second hand or new), you’ll need to sort your business premises. For a home based startup this might well be your living room, but once you’re successful you might find you need office or warehouse space (we can help with that).

You business processes need to be sorted too. Online accounting services such as Freeagent can make life easy on the financial front, whilst a good procedure for dealing with customer orders and relationship management is a must. Not sorting that now will lead to bigger headaches when your first tax return is due.

Have a long term plan

You can’t predict the future, but you can have a plan for it. Think about where you really want your business to go ? Do you want to have expanded to multi-national corporate, responsible for several thousand employees within 10 years – or are you happier on your tod – just serving smaller more niche customer base locally?

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