I first ventured out of the world of secure PAYE employment about 2 years ago. Some of that time was spend consulting and more recently working product development.
I kept some notes that I thought I’d share with some of the lessons that I’ve learnt along the way.
So in no particular order, here we go;
Business cards and your website are NOT the most important things to sort out on day 1.
Find out if you have a market for your idea or product as quickly as possible.
- Use on-line surveys (http://surveymonkey.com as an example – it’s free)
- Talk to potential customers
- Talk to and observe your competition.
- Don’t ask your family. They will lie and tell you it’s a great idea even if it’s not!
It takes some time, but boy does it save you hard cash and heart break down the road!
Business plans are great when you need to get your hands on cash or demonstrate your strategy. If you don’t need either of these things initially, create a short one – <5 pages. Keep it updated, your plans will change as you develop.
Create a business development plan. Where are you now? Where do you want to get to? How are you going to get there? Do a SWOT to help you along. Write this as succinctly as possible. If you are over 2 pages, it’s too many! Take your time doing this – it’s worth its weight in gold. It’s your map!
Limited or sole trader. Go for the latter as long as you can. There is less hassle from an accounts perspective along with the overhead of directoral/company secretary obligations to the company registrations office and tax authorities.
Marketing is the number one activity you can perform for your business. Social media sites along with more traditional routes do work. Have a plan though. Bit like business development one, keep it sub 2-3 pages!
If you are not launching yourself as a consultant and are doing something like building a product, please try and hold onto your day job for as long as possible. You will not make revenue quickly from your idea. It will take longer than you expect. It’s nice to be able to afford to buy food!
Get HELP as soon as you possibly can. Talk to other business owners about their experiences. Talk to government agencies like the enterprise boards who can give you advice. Talk to as many people as you can to get the questions you need answered.. well, answered. Oh and pay out as little as possible while you’re doing it. A cup of coffee goes a long way!
Have faith in yourself and prepare yourself for “knocks”, there will be many.
Get out there and do it. It’s truly liberating. Master of your own destiny and all that!
These are some considerations for first time business owners/entrepreneurs. Can you think of others?
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This post is part of the SugarTone: Sweet Business Blogging Contest.