New year, new you – and brand-spanking new business? If ‘escaping the corporate rat race’ topped your resolutions list for 2017, it’s time to take action. But while your head may be dancing with Google-sized visions (space age napping pods! pinball machines for all!) it’s time to go back to basics. By systematically covering your bases you’ll make sure your business has its best chance of success – whether that means putting mi goring on the table or cracking your first million.
You know you want to be your own boss: that parts crystal clear. But the actual business idea? Well, it’s still a little fuzzy around the edges… To bring out that eureka idea you know is bubbling up under the surface, take stock of a couple of things:
Your passions. You know what they say – do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. This view may be a little rosy-eyed, but it’s true that work you enjoy makes you happier and more motivated to keep going. Bonus: you tend to be good at what you like, too.
The things that piss you off. Is there something in your market that makes you scoff and say, ‘I could do better?’ Maybe there’s a product or service you’ve been desperate to find, but it doesn’t exist – yet. Inside your frustrations may lay some important clues about your business-to-be.
You’ve got the idea: now it’s time to make some noise. Talking to people about your genius new business serves a few purposes. Firstly, it makes it feel more real, which can bolster your confidence – or reveal any kinks you need to iron out. You’ll also get better at explaining it, ideally to the point where you can deliver a snappy 30-second elevator pitch (next: stalk Richard Branson into the lift).
Pay attention to the reactions of the people you tell, particularly those in your target market. Do their eyes light up or glaze over? You need your audience to be genuinely excited about your idea – not just politely nodding.
It’s tempting to quit your job in a spectacular fashion and recruit a whole batch of customers in a single day. But launching your business doesn’t have to mean throwing a glass of water over your god-awful boss (and dousing your reputation in the process). It’s all about baby steps taken week by week, day by day – whether that’s working on your new website, reaching out to a mentor in your field, or taking on some freelance work on the side.
Are you a solo crusader or do you see yourself as half of a dazzling duo? Maybe your business needs four co-founders, each with different talents, to really sing. Don’t skip over this step – those initial decisions about the foundations of your business can be the difference between whether it flourishes or flails. In general, the best co-founders are ones with similar goals and complementary talents, not necessarily your best mates (sorry Kev).
Still struggling to decide what structure would suit your business best? Our Perth bookkeepers can help you sort a solid accounting structure on which to grow.
Hey, we heard that groan. Paperwork may not be sexy, but it’s a necessary evil – and sometimes can even prove a friend.
Say you’re involved in a bitter feud with a co-founder about who is entitled to what. A clearly defined legal agreement from the get-go keeps these quibbles at bay. Maybe a disgruntled client is threatening to sue – and because you forgot to register your business as a separate entity, you stand to lose your home. Oops just doesn’t cut it…
We recommend seeking out the services of both a lawyer and an accountant to keep your paperwork squeaky clean. This doesn’t have to break the bank: some companies, like Fusion, offer packages based on what you need – so if you’re a tiny start-up, your fees will be adjusted to match. Check out our Perth bookkeeping packages for more information.
Going into business without a plan is a bit like attempting a cross-country road trip without a map. Sure, dumb luck might get you there anyway – but you’re more likely to end up in a dusty hellhole with no gas and a ticked off significant other yelling in your ear. No thanks.
Use your business plan as a road-map to get you to your destination – and sometimes, a better spot than you even dreamed! A few things to consider:
Start-up costs. How much cash do you need to get your idea off the ground, and where will you get it? Can you get away with squirreling away some of your income each week, or will you need to call in the big guns (like getting an angel investor on board or taking out a hefty loan)?
Target market. Who’s in it, and where are they hiding? More importantly, how can you reach them?
Sales forecasts. How can you effectively maximize your profits and minimize your costs? How much do you think you’ll make, minus costs, in your first year? What about in five years – or even a decade?
There’s no need to strive for perfection: all you need is a Minimum Viable Product, or MPV. This is the most bare bones version of your product, minus the bells and whistles. Build it and launch it as soon as possible – even if you’re still technically a corporate drone.
The reason for this lackadaisical approach? You could have the most sophisticated business plan or market research methods out there, but it means nothing if people don’t buy what you’re selling. On-the-ground research trumps years of hypothesizing, so get your product in the hands of your target market and beg them for feedback. Then tweak, tweak and repeat!