2 min read
The COVID-19 pandemic almost acted as a reset button for many of us. During the months of isolation and reflection, thousands of us asked ourselves what we really wanted to do with our lives. For many, the answer appeared to be setting up a business and being our own boss. But while the independence and freedom sound amazing on paper, there is no one-size-fits-all template for starting a small business.
What we can offer, however, is a few tips that should help you get off on the right foot, regardless of the sector you’re launching into or the niche that you’re courting.
Get in the right frame of mind
Yes, starting a new business is exciting but you have to realise the size of the undertaking. The first few months are always going to be the longest and hardest as you work to get your business off the ground and you will be doing a lot of it alone.
Ultimately, there’s no such thing as a perfect time to start a business which means there’s no such thing as a bad time either. If you have an idea you’re passionate about or a product you think could really make an impact then the only other major hurdle to overcome is your self-doubt.
Be honest with yourself about strengths and weaknesses
A good business knows and capitalises on its strengths but a great business also knows that it has weaknesses and limits. Your strengths are what are going to give you your edge and should be what you focus all of your marketing efforts on, at least in the beginning.
It’s just as important, however, that you understand your limits and don’t try to burden yourself with too many different ideas. Start by building strong foundations with the areas you know you’re great at before you try expanding into areas that you’re unfamiliar with.
Start small and grow
All businesses need to start somewhere. Even Amazon started out of a garage initially. It’s always better to start with a simple business plan and then expand and scale organically as you start to build customers and clients.
Your initial business plan should be concise and realistic with a mission statement explaining where you want to go and how you want to get there, as well as a basic financial plan. All the marketing plans, organisational structures and other specifics can come later when you’re already off the ground.
Do your market research
Knowing the market and your customer is always the first and most important piece of advice for starting a small business. The importance of market research can’t be overstated in this current incredibly competitive climate. There will probably be hundreds of people out there with a similar idea to you setting up their own small businesses right now and you shouldn’t be afraid of that.
Look to your immediate competitors and the larger names in your field for ideas and commit to thorough market research to analyse everything from product viability to market segregation.
This is perhaps the most important piece of advice on starting a small business. So many small business owners become frustrated due to their expectations being too high, especially right at the beginning. Being realistic, however, doesn’t mean you can’t be ambitious.
Work out how much capital you have to work with from your personal finances, friends and family and other investors, then figure out how to make the most of that capital. Don’t play with money you don’t have yet as that’s the easiest way to find yourself getting in over your head. And don’t quit your day job on day one because you never know when you might need it to help keep your business afloat.
We can help
If you’re interested in finding out more about starting a small business, or any other aspect of your business finances, then get in touch with our financial experts at GoCardless. Find out how GoCardless can help you with ad hoc payments or recurring payments.