So, you’re looking to start your own business. It’s likely that everyone you know has given their two pence on the matter, but what about people who have done it themselves? We spoke to a group of entrepreneurs and business owners to get their insight on the truth of what to expect when starting your own business.
Before launching your business, it is important to ask yourself if you are providing the kind of product or service that will make a positive difference in the world. Be clear on your mission statement and what you are giving to your target market. We spoke to Krista Canfiel McNish, Corporate Communications at kimkim.com;
“The biggest advice I give entrepreneurs is to always keep thinking about if you are creating something that genuinely adds value and is needed in the world. You can deceive yourself for a while, and maybe you can even get your metrics to grow, but over time you only build a valuable company when you build something that others need and are willing to pay for.”
Therefore, starting with a truly great idea is the best way to line yourself up for success. Once you have your idea, it would be wise to test it out by conducting some market research. This will identify if your product is something that people need and if you are representing it in the right way.
Arguably the most important part of your business, the people you employ and the people you sell to can define your brand. Consider how many members of staff you will need to carry out each task and what sort of personalities you want to have at your business. The day-to-day tasks that you need your staff to do will likely change as time goes on, but having the right people around you will make the entire process a lot easier.
“When first starting my business, I was shocked to find just how many people we needed to efficiently start and operate our business. We had to find three different attorneys. One for writing our contracts, one to help with trademarking, and because of the nature of our business, one to review documents and products we provide to our clients. We also needed an accountant to help with tax questions, a business consultant to help with questions about starting a business, and we partnered with countless other business owners to provide us with their tips and tricks about starting their own business. It felt like it took a whole village to help us start.”
Nikki Larchar, simplyHR LLC Co-Founder
Another extremely important group of people to consider are your target audience. Ask yourself who you are targeting and why they might need your product. Being precise about this will allow you to create successful marketing campaigns and hopefully save you from spending money on people who just aren’t interested. Kyle Golding, CEO & Chief Strategic Idealist at The Golding Group gave his advice on targeting the right people;
“Business start-ups fail when they don’t focus marketing efforts precisely enough on the primary target audience. The worst thing any business can do is assume “everyone” is their client.Just not true and wasteful of limited time and budget. A successful start-up is highly focused on their best customer only and not the general public as a whole.”
Deciding on a target audience and doing some research into what makes them tick will make the marketing process a lot easier and your time more profitable.
Cashflow is an integral part to your new business, so it is vital to be aware of any hidden costs early on. Mike Scanlin, CEO of Born to Sell, had a nasty surprise when he first started his business;
“I had a shock in 2011 when I filed my 2010 taxes. I didn’t know about self-employment tax. And it’s not small! It’s about 15% of your total revenue. Yikes. Need to take that into account when setting prices and holding on to some cash for quarterly estimated tax payments.”
It is common for start-up businesses to make a loss in their first two years, so it is vital to be prepared for this and not to be discouraged. Matt Franks, managing director of Dreambooth, spoke to us about his experiences;
“You will probably lose money before you make money. Starting up a business means huge expenditure, and it can take a long time to recoup your losses. Longer than you may anticipate. The important thing is to budget for this eventuality so you can stay in business long enough to break even and then turn your first profit.”
Do your research into taxes and start-up costs so you don’t get any unexpected bills! For more advice on permits, licenses and tax involved in starting a business, visit DirectGOV’s website here.
Although it may be tempting to constantly make changes when you first launch your business, it is wise to give your start-up the time it needs to grow. Andrew Haller, Co-founder and Co-CEO at AirDev (USA) shared his wisdom of the importance of having patience with your new business;
“It is natural to think that if you aren’t growing today, you need a new strategy or to work even harder, but, in reality, most success stories don’t happen overnight. Having the patience and resilience to push forward even when the going is slow has proved very beneficial.”
Setting up a new business takes time and you are bound to make a few mistakes along the way. As long as you have a truly great idea that will make a positive difference to people’s lives, you are already on the road to success. Remember that many of the people you meet will have likely been in your shoes at some point. Sophie Attwood, managing director of Impress PR Ltd, shared her experience with starting a new business;
“One thing that shocked me was the realisation that people are just all people – it came about three weeks in to setting up by myself. When you set up by yourself you suddenly are sat alongside everyone else – freelancers, CEO’s, entrepreneurs, agencies – you’re all working together towards the goal of success and surprisingly – most of the time people are quite friendly!”
We hope this has given you a little guidance on what to expect when starting your new business. If you have some advice for entrepreneurs looking to start their own business, or an experience you’d like to share, let us know on Facebook or Twitter!