There is no question that starting up a business is a bold move, which requires everything from vision and passion to plain hard slog. And perhaps most importantly, knowledge.
Knowledge is power. It not only ensures you’re making the best informed decisions possible, reducing the risk of failure but, more importantly, it usually means you will be ready to put mitigation tactics into your business or personal life to protect your future – such as insurance policies, buy-sell agreements, use of Trusts for asset protection etc.
Why are you doing it? This tip seems fairly obvious, yet a thorough analysis of the reasons for starting a business is a process that’s often overlooked. Sit down and define your reasons and specific goals.
Objectively assess whether or not your business plan is able to deliver on these goals.
Know your market. Know who your market is, how your product or service will meet the needs of this market, and what your point of difference is from other competitors operating in the market – both nationally and locally. Remember that marketing is about the 4 Ps – Product (or service), Price, Place and Promotion.
Know your strengths and weaknesses. As a start-up business you need to be able to leverage off your strengths and be able to bring people into your business to fill any gaps where weaknesses lie. Work with some friends on a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis to ensure you’re well-positioned to plug gaps and leverage advantages.
Hard slog. Understand that a start-up venture will require you to work twice as long and hard, for half the pay – certainly over the short to medium term – to build a great business.
Exit strategy. Before you get in, think about how you will get out.
Work with professional advisors to develop an exit scenario that could include a strategy to cover any worst case scenario or simply a plan to ultimately sell or remove yourself from the day to day operations.
Finance and structure. Consider the capital structure and funding of working capital very carefully. Too many businesses fail from being under-capitalised. The
structure you choose – whether it is a trust, company, partnership or sole operator – will provide different tax and legal benefits depending on the nature of your business. It pays to get advice on this matter.
Learning. One of the best ways to learn is from those who’ve already trodden the path, so seek advice from those already in business – and are doing it well. Also join your local Chamber of Commerce and local business discussion groups.
Expert advice. Be willing to invest in a business advisor to ensure you’re making smart decisions from the outset. As a trusted business partner, choose them based on both their skills and a good personality/values fit.
Plan, perform, measure. Set realistic goals for your business for the first three years and measure your performance against these goals.
Commitment and resilience. Successful entrepreneurs are all extremely persistent – they have good reason to believe in their offering and find workable ways in which to navigate through obstacles.