Nervous energy, the rush of excitement and a little bit of fear. If you’ve ever launched a start-up, or are on the brink of doing so, those are three feelings you can probably empathise with.
In Cornwall alone, according to figures from Companies House, there were more than 2,400 new limited companies registered in 2016, making the region one of the most popular places in the country to launch a new business. An increasing number of people are embracing their inner entrepreneur, driven by an ambition to succeed and to make a go of it on their own. And it’s not difficult to see why. The appeal of flexibility and control, especially combined with the many lifestyle benefits of living and working in the South West, is a strong one.
However, despite the popularity of being your own boss, not every start-up is destined to succeed. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you’re armed with as much knowledge as possible before taking the big leap of faith. We want to help you succeed, that’s why we’ve put together these simple tips of the essentials we think you should know before you take your first steps.
It’s a journey
First and foremost, success doesn’t happen overnight. It takes patience, commitment and a healthy dose of hard work to make a new business work. This is all part of the journey. What you think your business will look like, and what you do now, will not be the same as it is in 2 or 5 years. Make a business plan (ask your accountant for help with this!). Remember a business plan is not just for borrowing. While you may need an initial injection of capital to get things off the ground it’s vital you have a detailed plan in place where your idea is broken down into details. This will allow you to set realistic targets and milestones, giving you something to reach for, achieve and build on.
Know your market
And this means your product as well as who your customers are. So many people don’t make it because they fail to understand their market and know who they are selling to. Talking to people and listening to your customers is key. What is it they want that you’re offering? You should also be prepared to change, and to change quickly, if the market demands it.
Never underestimate the value of your network. Sure, get out there and go to events but understand that networking happens every day, with everything from the conversations you’re involved in through to how you engage with social media. Word of mouth will always be the strongest form of marketing and these recommendations will start with your network. Build a great reputation for delivering a great product and watch as new business pours in through referrals.
Know what you need to live off
Spend some time figuring out how much money you need to bring in to live off. This will help you make the decision of when you can jump from the security of full time employment. It’s possible to start on a shoestring and, as much as you can, you should aim to keep your fixed costs and overheads as low as you can when you start off. Work from home if you have to, don’t take on staff if you don’t need them and don’t spend your resources on things that aren’t going to bring you a return. For more tips, The Lean Startup is a great place to begin.
Not every sale is a good one
Whether you offer a service or a sell a product, there are few feelings that can beat the rush of selling something you’ve developed for the first time. But a quick word of warning: if you’re selling a service, remember that not every sale is always a good one. Just because you can do something, doesn’t necessarily mean you should and, unless you’re careful, you can quickly dilute your offering by taking on the wrong kind of work.
We want to help your start-up get off to the best possible start so you’re successful now and long into the future.
Why not sound out your business idea to us? We can give you the tools for success.