Simple rules for starting a small business
You’ve got a business idea – in fact, you’ve had this idea buzzing in your head for some time. It’s a great idea – not totally new, perhaps, but certainly something that you think could work.
For a lot of people that idea will never come to fruition. Why? Well, life gets in the way. You have a job. You have bills to pay. You have no time for a side venture.
Then again, perhaps you find yourself in the situation of being able to seriously give your idea a go. You’ve been made redundant; you’ve got a little bit of start-up money from Auntie Gertrude. Hell, you’ve decided it’s now or never!
Whatever the circumstances, when you’re setting out to start your little business, give yourself a fighting chance of success, by adhering to a few important rules!
Think before you act
Having an idea and putting it into practice are two quite distinct things. If you really feel ready to give your idea a go, answer the absolute basics before you make any commitments:
Do the groundwork – what is your small business about? What is it you want to sell? Why would someone buy your service or product? What need is it fulfilling? And why would they choose you over a competitor?
Write a simple business plan – what are the goals of your business? How much investment will it take to get your business off the ground? What are the running costs and what are you expecting in terms of sales revenue? How will you get your products to market? How big is the market opportunity? Where will you get your investment from? What compelling story would convince someone else to part with their money and invest in your idea?
Commit to personal soul searching – do you have the necessary attributes for business? Are there people who could help you? Who might you turn to if things go wrong?
People may have told you to dream big and never give up. All well and good, but not helpful when you are 9 months into your grand plan, have a mountain of debt, and are making very little money.
Taking a small idea that needs scaling is a wonderful problem to have. Grappling with a beast you’ve unleashed because you invested all your money in state-of-the-art cake making equipment on an industrial scale, isn’t going to help you, unless people know and like your products and are willing to part with their hard-earned moula.
Invest the bare minimum to get up and running and try out your idea. You might think you need a corporate looking website to make your business look amazing (we did – big mistake), when actually something simple and plain is just as good to get you going – and far less of a headache!
Be prepared for things to go wrong
As you get started things are going to go wrong – there, we’ve said it. If you think it will be plain sailing, you’re in for a shock (okay Gym Shark, you worked hard and got lucky, good for you). Expect the support you were promised to evaporate. Expect people who said they would buy your product or service to let you down. Be prepared to knock on doors and get no response – you might even get a bucket of cold water thrown over you! It’s not necessarily personal – but it will feel that way
When you start a business, you’ll be desperate for things to go smoothly. Our experience tells us that’s unlikely for a good proportion of time. The key is to learn from everything that happens (or doesn’t happen) and use it sensibly as you build forward.
Build your resilience and stay optimistic
This might all sound like doom and gloom and we certainly don’t want to pour water over your passion. The key to growing a small business organically is that you need to work extremely hard – but in the first instance expect little payback. Keep going, ask for help, listen, learn and bounce back from setbacks by accepting and learning from the failures as much as the successes.