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How To Start Up Your Business

Written by: Dr Lynda Ince-Greenaway, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 
Executive Contributor Dr Lynda Ince-Greenaway

Like everything in life there are rules that we must follow if we want to succeed. Starting up a business is no different because it is similar to building a foundation for a house. You do not need to be a high-flying business person or executive, but you do need to take some steps to build a strong foundation. One of the best lessons I learnt when I wanted to become an entrepreneur was that I had to convince others that I was worth their time and investment. I had no business acumen and I had not completed a business course. However, what was in my favour was that I had over twenty years of professional experience and expertise under my belt. The product I was selling was myself and it helped me to develop knowledge about what I wanted to offer.

Portrait of a happy business owner hanging an open sign on the door at a cafe and smiling

My aims and objectives were important in building my business. Although others may be offering a similar service or product to the one you are hoping to offer what will make your service different is its uniqueness. Here are some simple steps to follow:


1. Go Local

Begin by doing some reconnaissance work to find out about the needs of people in your community. You can be sure that if there is a need for a service people will be interested in what you have to offer. Find out who is serving the community and how they are doing it. Begin with a mapping exercise that will identify your territory and how you can fill obvious gaps.


2. Carry Out Research

Research is a valuable resource to have in your box of tools. It will help you to understand the demographics of the population you want to serve. Get to know the geographic area, age, ethnic groupings, gender, ability and disability, languages spoken, housing, education, status of people and organisations in the locality. You can also use qualitative data by talking to people. One of the first questions to ask is whether there are enough customers to make your business viable. All the data you gather will avoid obvious pitfalls. You do not need to be a researcher, but you need to learn the skill of information gathering, good listening skills, how to pick up on nuances in a conversation, and a friendly open attitude. While you are gathering information ask instead of telling. When you ask people about their needs, they are more likely to tell you what they need as opposed to if you tell them what you think they need. You have to be persistent and curious. It will be helpful if you are able to use the internet to carry out some investigation into existing resources.


3. Plan

At the planning stage involve others who can help you to explore the feasibility of your business idea. Ask them to comment on how realistic they think your idea is and allow them to make a contribution to your developing plan. Keep people and their needs at the centre of your planning. During the early stages of your planning write out a vision statement because it will give you direction. A great idea is to create a vison-board. If you have an artistic flair, you can use your creativity to bring your vision into focus. If you feel that you are not artistic you can use newspaper and magazine clippings, to create and bring your dream to life. Use different colours and descriptive words so that you can visualise your idea. Within your planning think about your strategy for reaching the community you want to serve. Your vision will drive your business and mission statement. Mission statements are not as easy to write as one would think, but it is helpful if you have clarity about what you are aiming to achieve.


When I first set up my coaching practice, I was coaching two women who wanted to set up a business. They had a big idea but without a plan they found it hard to convince investors that they knew the direction in which they wanted the business to go.


4. Finances

It is impossible to start a business without financial resources. Therefore, during the early stages you will need to think of whether you need to approach a bank for a loan or whether you will dig into your savings or ask family members to give financial assistance. Finances will have a big role to play in the development of your business. Remember that if you intend to involve family or friends in providing finances, or you decide to go into a partnership relationships could breakdown leading to disagreements and considerable stress. Before deciding on partnership think carefully about the risks involved and the likely impact it could have on your health if the business goes belly-up.


5. Your Skillset

Before you begin try to match up your skills with the type of service you want to offer. Try not to launch out into an area where you do not have any expertise or knowledge because you will be selling yourself before you sell your product. Although new business owners might think that it is more important to sell a product those who are buying your services will want you to demonstrate that you have the skills to deliver. They want value for money and the value you will bring is your skills, expertise, and knowledge. If you do not have effective communication, and interpersonal skills it will be more difficult for you to win people over to your idea and your way of thinking. This is why your unique selling point is what will help you to demonstrate that you are different. The skill of observation is critical because as you observe what others are doing you can learn and develop your unique idea.


6. Identify Your Business Type

Some new start-ups have the option of offering their services as sole traders or as a limited company. The advantage of a sole trader is that you can sell services to well-established businesses. They may not have to think of premises or employing staff. It is possible to begin in your home with limited cost for the infrastructure. You can engage the services of independent people as an when they are needed. The downside is that a well-established business could decide at any time to stop using your service. Therefore, you will need to develop negotiating skills particularly when you are pricing your product. A service that is too cheap might be undervalued and a service that is too expensive might price you out of the market. In coaching it is possible to develop a package that would include your prices beginning with an initial consultation fee and number of sessions. Always include a contract because if you fail to agree your prices it is easy to charge different prices or not the correct fee. Setting up a limited company provides other benefits but there is more reporting and record keeping. In both cases you need to maintain accurate records, but an accountant or a program can help with maintaining your financial records. It is easy to lose or misplace receipts therefore create a system/spreadsheet on your computer to consistently keep your receipts in one place.


Picture This

My hairdresser set up her hairdressing business after she was made redundant. Her first mistake was not spending time to think of how she would set up the business and cater to the needs of her intended customers. She felt that it would not be cost effective to employ an assistant. When customers arrived at her salon they had to wait for hours which led to time-wasting and disgruntled customers. At times they arrived and the salon was closed. Prices for her services were not displayed and it appeared as if she was making up the prices on the spur of the moment. Needless to say, she lost many customers.


7. Being Unique

Having an idea is one thing, but being unique is another. There are others that will have similar ideas to the one you are seeking to sell, but you can still create your unique brand. Branding a service is when you develop an identity for your business. Coca-Cola is a brand that most people associate with a bottle. It is unmistakable therefore people recognise it the world over. Branding means having a name that is specifically related to your unique business and it is seen everywhere in the form of a logo, with colours, posters, flyers, business card and all promotional materials that identify your business. Branding is the way you present your business and it will include colours, language and visuals.


8. Investment of Time and Energy

Setting up a business requires a huge investment of time and energy. Therefore, you need to be committed and think of how you will use your time wisely to promote your business. Time is a major factor to take into consideration because it may mean a reduction in the time you are able to spend with your family. It could mean not being present for important events particularly if you have young children and a partner who are depending on you to show up. The level of energy to create a new idea is not only time-consuming but stressful. Therefore, keep exercise and a balanced diet on your agenda and create time to look after yourself, mind, soul and body. Your business will only be successful if you remain fit and maintain emotional and physical wellbeing.


Remember that everything you want is outside of your comfort zone. Therefore, you will need to be committed, set out a firm foundation and take small steps to get to where you want to be.


Are you considering setting up a business and need a coach to show you the way?

Contact Lynda Ince-Ince Greenaway via her website.

Email: Lyndalifecoaching@gmail.com Tel: 07508020778


Follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and visit my website for more info!

Dr Lynda Ince-Greenaway Brainz Magazine
 

Dr Lynda Ince-Greenaway, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Dr Lynda Ince-Greenaway began her career in 1982 when she qualified as a social worker. After making child-care her specialism, she became a team leader and a manager. She has worked for forty years in the public and private social care sectors making a significant contribution to the development and learning of others. In her role as a manager, she developed leadership skills which she has used to teach and influence others. She became an educationalist working as a lecturer for many years. As a life coach, keynote speaker and author Dr Ince-Greenaway is known for her enthusiasm and passion concerning such issues as leadership, social justice, social inclusion, empowerment, personal development as well as the development of others.

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