In the UK, over 92% of the population can access the internet. That is an incredible number of people who all have access to the information and tools that they could ever need to start a business. You can argue that having access to the internet is only one of the factors relevant to starting a business. It is also a factor that isn’t even necessary to start a business, as this story of the unemployed tomato seller turned millionaire so eloquently portrays. There are many people out there that don’t even use the internet to run their business. My point is that we live in a world where we have the power to start a business at our finger tips. Not only this, we have access to free tools that we can use to start a business, making starting and running a business incredibly cost-efficient.
I recently wrote a blog post outlining some business ideas that you could start tomorrow, a lot of these don’t even require a high degree of specialist skills or expertise. I wanted to follow up that post with something that would help people understand just how easy it is to start a business in today’s world.
Create an idea
Think about what your skillset is, what you are passionate about, what drives you to succeed. These questions will help you formulate an idea for your business. If you can create a business from an area of interest, then it will be much easier to motivate yourself to put in the work necessary to succeed.
Once you have thought about the area in which you want to start a business, think about what differentiates you from what is already available. Conduct competitor research to find out what others are doing and create your niche, the thing that makes you unique. Then consider the viability of your business. What is the market size, is there a need for your products or services, what problem do you solve for your audience? Understanding these areas will help you further refine your offering and enable you to create a viable business model.
Create a plan
You have probably heard about the infamous business plan. The common misconception is that they are incredibly time consuming and difficult to create. Let me help bust this myth – they don’t have to be. To be honest, the length and detail you go into is completely up to you. For the most part the document is there to help guide you on the journey you are about to embark on. So, it is completely up to you what you include. If you want to apply for finance then you will have to put some time and effort into a business plan. Investors will like to see some profit projections to ensure they are making a sound investment. You have probably already done some of the work for the business plan when conducting research into your business idea, so it is just a case of pulling it all together.
Decide how you will trade
There are many options for how you can trade as a business. There are different benefits for each option depending on how you intend on operating and growing the business. Below I have outlined some of the main options available, giving a brief explanation of what each is. You should spend a bit of time understanding what form suits your business model before moving ahead with one.
Sole trader – You are the sole proprietor of the business and are directly responsible for the costs of running the business.
Partnership – You run the business with one or multiple partners and together are directly responsible for the costs of the business.
Limited Company – You trade under the company name and the company is responsible for the costs of the business. This costs money to set up but helps to reduce liability and risk and offers certain tax benefits. This option is better if you plan to grow the business and take on employees.
Limited Liability Partnership – Depending on the type of partner you are, you are only liable for the amount of money you invest in the business. Each partner has to submit a self tax assessment each year, and must pay income tax and National Insurance on their share of the profits.
Start a business account
A business account will allow you to keep track of your business’s finances. There are many business accounts available. The right one for you depends on how you have set up your business and how you will trade. Spend some time researching the various accounts available as some will give you benefits that may be useful for your business. It may take up to two weeks for the account to go live so make sure you factor this into your launch plan. Here is an idea on what some of the different accounts offer.
Build a customer portal
You need to make sure you have a place where your potential customers can come and find out more about your business. You can take a few different approaches here. A super simple way to do this is to create a Facebook page. With the recent release of the Facebook Store you can run an ecommerce business entirely through the popular social media site.
It is also easy to build your own website without any experience in coding. There are many drag-and-drop editors on the market with the ability to design and publish beautiful websites. Here is a blog post I wrote recently outlining how to simply build your own business website.
You have already conducted research during the idea creation stage so probably have a good understanding about your business’s potential customers. Knowing their buying habits, the websites they visit, and their interests will help you understand how you can market to them.
If you created a Facebook page for your business, then start by advertising your business to your network and asking them to share it with theirs. You can also use Facebook’s powerful advertising tools to target your potential customers.
Sell your products
By undertaking the previous step, you would have already increased visibility of your business and depending on what you are selling, you may start generated sales immediately. If you are offering services, then it is likely you will need to spend time increasing trust within your target market. This can be done through creating meaningful and useful content, or through proving yourself by giving them a taste of what you can do for free.
If you have started a business that will be selling physical products, then you need to think how you will get the product to the purchaser. Considering factors like, packaging, shipping and the time involved. Here is a great blog post outlining some of the core considerations.
This is the most important step. Once you have made a sale, you need to make sure you are keeping in contact with that customer. They might return to purchase more of your products or services, or they may recommend your business to their friends or colleagues. If you are running your business through Facebook then this could be as simple as actively pushing out content through your Facebook page. This content could be in the shape of special offers, new products or blog posts.
Building an email list is also a great way to continue to communicate with your customers. MailChimp offers affordable and powerful tools to build and manage email lists, with inbuilt functionality to easily create beautifully designed HTML emails.
Nice and simple
As you can see from this post, starting a business does not need to be complicated. Now don’t get me wrong, making a success of your business will require hard work and determination but the process of starting the business needn’t be the factor that puts you off. We live in an age of business enablement, an age where everything we need to start a business is at our finger tips. If you have an idea for a business then begin to explore the possibility of starting it. Without taking action, that idea will be never amount to anything more than just an idea.
marketpreneurs can help you understand the viability of your business idea. Check out the mp entrepreneur service to see how we can help you take that first step to realising your dreams.