So that’s it. You’re fed up with the thankless grind of working for someone else. You feel undervalued, underpaid and overworked. It’s always been your dream to work for yourself, and here’s your chance. The stars have aligned in your favour. The market is buoyant and there’s a nice little savings pot to help you through those uncertain first few months. But before you fire the afterburners, how can you give your business the very best chance of success?
Which type of business are you best suited to?
Two factors to consider before making any decisions about your business is how much you need to earn, and how much time you can dedicate to making it work. Should you run the start-up part-time and supplement your earnings with a second job? Perhaps you have savings which allow you to go fulltime from the off? Maybe a seasonal business would make more sense?
If you lack the industry knowledge industry knowledge required to make accurate timescale and earning predictions, information providers like RM Online allow you to research the details of companies in your sector, helping you gain a firmer understanding of who you’re up against and the market dynamics more generally.
When should you launch?
The urge to plough your time and money into a business is tempting, but there are a number of key factors you should attend to first. Businesses can be set up quickly. An off-the-shelf or bespoke website can be purchased relatively cheaply, allowing you to head straight to market. Then, all you need is a laptop, a small working area, preferably a kettle, hopefully a wireless, and you’re away!
Timing the launch of your business is essential, so conduct research to determine when demand for your product or service is at its peak. Unless you’re a seasonal enterprise, launching close to Christmas is generally a bad idea, although things pick up quickly in the new year. There are plenty of reasons start-ups fail; don’t let something as simple as bad timing be the reason yours fails.
What should you sell?
Perhaps surprisingly, what you sell is not the most important consideration. The will and desire to succeed and an understanding how a start-up business should function is far more important.
Some start-ups are product led, run by owners with thorough knowledge of a particular industry or service area, but this is not always the case. If you’re in need of inspiration, websites like Springwise are full of product and business ideas which will help to invoke the epiphany you need.
If you’re stepping into a relatively unknown market, potential customers are an invaluable source of information. Make the effort to meet them. Talk to them about your products and ask questions about your pricing. Do they shop online or offline? When are they most likely to make a purchase? Criticism should be encouraged, as the more critical feedback you receive, the more refined your product will be.
And keep one eye on the competition…
Your more established competitors are one of the most valuable sources of information you have. If you run an online business, everything you need to know is on your competitors’ websites. How do your competitors’ prices compare? Do they have any special offers? Perhaps their website is more trustworthy than yours? You should emulate the strengths of the competition and take advantage of their weaknesses. If they don’t engage particularly well with their customers, you can steal a march with a regular blog and Facebook page. A common misnomer is to believe your idea is so unique that there aren’t any competitors. The competition is always there; the secret is to be better than them!