Monday, 14 March 2022
Have you spotted a gap in the market that’s made you think now is the optimum time to launch your business? Do you have a hobby that could translate into a successful venture? The availability of free or low-cost technology makes it possible to start a business on Monday and be trading with the world by Tuesday.
But what stops many from embracing this opportunity is knowing what technology to use when, and how to find it in the first place. In this practical guide, we break down the crucial first steps, from coming up with the idea, to getting your research and marketing right, and finessing your customer service.
For many would-be entrepreneurs, what’s holding them back is the big idea. To come up with one, ask yourself these three questions:
1. Is there a gap in the market?
Have you ever tried to buy something only to realise that it doesn’t exist? Could others be looking for the same thing? If so, this presents a market opportunity. It is a gap in the market that encourages thousands of people each year to leave a job to pursue a life of entrepreneurship.
2. What is my passion/hobby/skill?
Many people are turning what they love into a way of making a living. Best of all, when you work on what you enjoy, doing it never really feels like work. Are you a dab hand at design? Have an eye for photography? A head for figures? These skills and hobbies can translate into the foundation for a successful business.
3. Is there something someone else is doing that I can do better myself?
If you’ve bought something and been unimpressed, why not step in, set up a business, and provide a better offer? Many good ideas stem from spotting products and services that can simply be improved upon or offered for less.
A business plan will act as your map. It will guide the business from start to growth, and ensure you hit important milestones along the way.
The plan will include information about how you intend to get started, what your ultimate objectives are and how you aim to reach them.
You might want to start a business and sell it in a few years, or grow it to be a certain size. Of course, you’ll need to plan resources accordingly: what do you have already, what will you need and how will you pay for it?
So, after coming up with an idea and doing your research, writing the business plan is your first practical step to starting your business. With it under your belt, you can say, “I’m off!” Or IMOFF.
IMOFF is an easy way to remember the headings to include in your business plan:
Idea, Market, Operations, Financials and Friends.
Have these as headings in your plan and you’ve taken a big step closer to becoming your own boss.
Idea: What’s your idea?
Market: Who will be your customers or clients? Who is your competition?
Operations: How will you develop the idea, promote it, and provide good customer service?
Financials: Can you earn more than you spend, so that the business makes a profit? Do you need any funds to get started?
Friends: Do you have a support network on hand for when you need business advice? Are there complementary businesses you’ve identified as potential collaborators or partners?
This guide is an abridged version originally produced by Emma Jones, founder of Enterprise Nation. Enterprise Nation recently partnered with Mastercard to launch Strive UK, an initiative designed to help 650,000 British micro and small businesses thrive in the digital economy over the next few years. Find out more about how Strive UK can help you put your business ideas into action here.