Deciding to start your own business can be exciting, overwhelming and terrifying all at the same time. No matter how confident you are in your product or business model, you will always encounter new challenges. Many people can feel discouraged when they face hurdles in the early stages. However, you can easily overcome some of these difficulties by preparing as much as you can. You should take the time to think about these important factors even before you’ve thought of a name!
Is there really a market for your idea?
Whether you plan on offering a product, solution or service, it’s important to ask yourself this question from the outset. Naturally, you will believe you have a great business idea. Therefore, it is important to try and pick it apart from a critical perspective. Do thorough research into your idea, and try and gauge whether there is an existing market, or even anyone else out there offering the same thing. Another good idea is to ask family and friends for their opinion – especially if they are in your ideal target audience. This is one of the most important steps to take before you start a business.
Who is your customer?
Once you have carried out your initial research, you should think about who your customer is. This is likely to be a variety of different people, from different walks of life. Figuring this out in the early stages will help make everything else that follows slightly easier. You should develop typical ‘customer profiles’, which you can use later. These will come in handy when planning your branding, business approach and marketing strategies.
How much will you need to invest?
Any start-up will require some kind of investment, so it’s important to figure out exactly where you stand financially as early as possible. Different businesses require different amounts of funding, to begin with than others. Start by making a list of everything you will need to invest in, from domain names and website to legal costs and product development. All businesses will encounter unforeseen costs in the early stages, but a detailed financial plan can help limit those financial surprises.
Should you quit your job?
Whilst it may be tempting to hand in your notice and wave your colleagues goodbye, you shouldn’t make this decision quickly. Ask yourself whether it is entirely necessary (and financially viable) to give up your current income. Is your business is something you can work on around your current job? Usually, it is entirely possible to do so, at least for the first few months. This is a big decision to make, but your detailed financial plan should help make this choice a little easier.
Do you really want to run a business?
Whilst the initial stages of inspiration and planning is exciting, it’s important to think about the risks of owning and running a business. Consider all elements involved, from bookkeeping to people management. Starting a business is a huge learning curve. It will allow you to get involved with elements of business you won’t have experienced before. It is more than just a career, and will (at least in the beginning) require long hours, late nights, and little financial reward.