January is the time for New Year’s resolutions. While for many people the usual suspects apply: get fit, eat healthier, give something up, learn something new, for some people perhaps it’s time to finally scratch that entrepreneurial itch and start your own business.
As a backer of new businesses we‘ve seen start-ups of all shapes and sizes and based on our experience suggest the following seven key steps a wannabe business owner should follow to successfully launch their own business this year.
1.) Find the right business idea
Your business idea shouldn’t just simply be about making profit. It needs to be a good fit for you personally, appeal to your target market, and be right for where you live. Building a business takes time so you should be doing something that you can live and breathe in the long term.
2.) Do your research
Having found the right business idea for you, you then need to start looking at the external factors around it. Market and competitor research is important in understanding how to make your business idea work in the real world. Test out your idea on friends and family, to see if your idea works for other people and if they can imagine it appealing to the market.
3.) Write a business plan
Most start-ups need some kind of funding beyond personal finance, in which case you will need to do a business plan. This should include your research as well as what products and services you will be offering, your marketing and sales plan, any costs you will have, financial data and cash flow forecasts. You should also list any potential members of your management team. If you need help with writing a business plan our colleagues at Business Wales can help you.
4.) Brand your business
A strong brand is central to customer loyalty and higher sales. If you believe branding is something just big businesses do, think again; a brand is critical for businesses of all shapes and sizes.
5.) Make it legal
Before any business can start there are a number of legal checkboxes that need to be ticked. This can include registering your business name, trademarks or patents, obtaining any relevant licences and insurance, and making sure your tax obligations will be met. Business Wales provides free advice on choosing the right legal structure for your business and registering for tax, while more in-depth legal advice should be sought from financial advisers and accountants.
6.) Financing your business
In order to get going you may need extra money. To do this you will need to match the company’s needs to the appropriate financing option. While some businesses are started with personal finance alone many need outside investment. Whether that comes from a bank, angel or someone like us, if you have a solid business plan and sound financial statements getting external finance shouldn’t be too difficult.
7.) Get ready to launch
Once the money is in the bank and the legals are done, you can start getting ready for launch. This means buying any necessary equipment, outfitting your office or shop, training any staff and rolling out a marketing campaign for before and after your launch. People won’t buy what they don’t know so exposure through marketing is important for a new business to begin generating sales.
Starting your own business is not an easy thing to do and is a big commitment, but the rewards can be huge. Not only can it bring financial benefits but in terms of job satisfaction, by following your passions and being your own boss, it can be a life changing experience.
The Development Bank of Wales can provide commercial loans from £1000 up to £5 million for business start-ups in Wales.