A Beginner’s Guide To Your First Startup
Embarking on your very first business venture can be a scary prospect. The world of business is so vast and so competitive that it can sometimes feel overwhelming, but you should take solace in the fact that the increasingly connected nature of our world has also made it much easier for even neophytes to start their own business.
If you’re just getting started (pun intended) with your first startup, then we’re here to help you. Here’s our beginner’s guide to starting and running your very first business, no matter what industry you happen to find yourself in.
First and foremost, funding should be at the top of your list when it comes to your first business. No business can succeed without the requisite amount of funding, which will, of course, differ depending on what kind of business you’re intending to run. Luckily, there are a number of avenues you can go down if you want investment for your startup. The usual routes are business loans and investors, but you can also look at personal loans; anything from £500 loans all the way up to loans in the tens of thousands could help you to get your business off the ground.
Solidify your idea
There’s an enduring myth in the entrepreneurial world that you need to have a knockout, innovative idea in order for your business to succeed. That’s only a half-truth. While your business idea certainly does need to be rock-solid, it doesn’t necessarily need to be innovative; you can start a business with a tried-and-tested idea that you already know works, and doing so could even put you at an advantage, because you won’t be navigating uncharted waters. All you need to do is make sure you know exactly what your idea is and how to pitch it before you start.
Create a business plan
All great businesses have a good plan at their core. This is what you’re going to show to prospective investors or funding providers so that they know you’re au fait with the business. To create a great business plan, you need to establish your business’s key objectives, its operating parameters, its competition, and its core product; there’s a lot more to a business plan than this, but these are the basic tenets of the document. After that, you can flesh it out with market research and background to make sure it’s a fully-fledged business plan rather than just a skeleton.
Conduct market research
Your startup is inevitably going to have competition; many business owners go into business with a dream of establishing themselves as the sole provider in a field, but that’s almost never going to happen. As such, conducting research on your competitors is of paramount importance in the business world. A lot of information is freely available online when it comes to corporations and companies, so find what you can from Google and other search engines. There’s also nothing wrong with buying products or services from your competitors so you can see how the process works!
Build a network
As soon as you possibly can, you should start looking to build a network with other business owners. Building a network gives you ready-made clients when you’re looking for business at the outset of your venture, and it also potentially gives you a lot of options when it comes to third-party or intermediary solutions for your business. For example, if your business needs a software solution for something, networking could give you the perfect opportunity to find a company that can help you. Networking also carries the advantage of getting your name out there.
Even though you should definitely build a robust business plan, the fact is that within the first few months of operation, you’re probably going to have to go off-script. The world of business throws so many unexpected situations and dilemmas at you that you’ll have serious difficulty coping with them all if you don’t learn to adapt and improvise. When problems come your way, make sure you’re trying to think out of the box when it comes to solutions. Relying on the same playbook to solve all of your problems just isn’t going to work in the long term.
Hire right, not big
Rather than simply splurging on hiring lots of staff – assuming your startup actually makes it to the point where you can begin hiring, of course – don’t skimp on the hiring process. Your staff are incredibly important; they keep the gears of your business turning, so if there’s anything wrong with the staff, the business will suffer as a result. Don’t think that just because you’re a relatively unproven startup, you can’t be ruthless in your interview technique; you want the best and brightest, and you certainly don’t want to settle for second place.
Expect to fail, but work to succeed
Failure is one of the hardest things for any startup to deal with. There’s nothing worse than pouring everything you have into a business only to watch it crash and burn, but the unfortunate reality is that this can and does happen on a regular basis. Almost 20% of new businesses in the UK alone will fail within their first year of operation, and more will go on to fail within their first five years. With that in mind, don’t beat yourself up if your startup doesn’t come to anything. That said, you should still work as hard as you can to succeed, of course, but analysing your failure with a cold head will work much better than giving in to emotion.