About the Book:
Starting a business from scratch can be one of the most exciting choices a person can make, but it can also be both daunting and stressful in equal measure. Although rewarding, it is hard work and will require your full commitment and focus at all times.
Ready, Steady, Grow: The experts guide to starting and running a successful business is a comprehensive guide that takes you on a step-by-step journey covering:
· Getting that business off the ground
· Dealing with tax and accounts
· Becoming an employer
· Day-to-day business management
· Business plan and funding
· Going online for the first time
· Your marketing mix
· Dealing with stress and work/life balance
· ...and even selling your business
In conjunction with www.mystartup.ie this book will equip you with all the knowledge and tools required to make that dream a reality.
Important questions to ask yourself before starting a business
Being self-employed can be hugely rewarding, but not everyone is cut out for it. Before going any further, you need to assess whether you have the right attributes to be your own boss.
To make that assessment, ask yourself these important questions:
“Do I need a steady wage?”
Irrespective of whether you want to be self-employed or not, the reality remains that we all have bills to pay. In self-employment there’s no guarantee of a steady wage; if this seems like a major problem, maybe it’s not for you.
“Is it the right time for me?”
Even if you that big idea and the expertise to develop it, the timing might not be right. Perhaps you have a young family or other commitments. Can you guarantee the dedication required to make your start-up a success?
“Do I need a daily routine?”
If you’re the type of person that needs to know what the next working day will bring, then you probably won’t enjoy being your own boss!
“Am I ready to work 24/7?”
If working beyond the usual 9–5 scares you and the thought of working weekends sends you over the edge, then maybe you shouldn’t go any further. Be prepared for your venture to take over your life (for a couple of years, at least).
“Can I work under severe pressure?”
Bear in mind that you’ll be responsible for every aspect of your business, from buying stationery to a sick employee, completing monthly accounts, collecting money or dealing with an unhappy customer – possibly all in one day!
“Do I, at least, have a strong interest in what I’m doing?”
This is important – could you see yourself getting out of bed in the depths of winter for something you’re not too bothered about?
“Are employment benefits important to me?”
Perks such as health insurance and pension – which often come with employment contracts – will need to be paid for out of your profits in future.
“Do I need praise for a job well done?”
This is a tough question to answer, but try to be honest. Business owners rarely get a pat on the back. You have to affirm yourself – but remember the old saying, “Self-praise is no praise”. There are no cheerleaders for the self-employed.
Tips for running a successful business
Throughout this book, we’ve looked in detail at various aspects of how to run a successful business. The following can be seen as a refresher course on what we’ve covered so far:
Pick a product or service that best suits your skills, interests and employment experience
Choose a business that you can be passionate about. It'll make it easier to get out of bed in the morning!
Chooses a product or service that has a high profit margin. You'll make more off each sale.
Choose a business entity that best suits your individual circumstances. Company or sole trade?
Create your business plan. This plan will help launch the business and keep track of your goals and objectives.
Answer the tough questions now.
Make sure to obtain any licences or permits required to run your business. Failure to do so may result in staff penalties or closure.
Choose the right location. What are you selling? Does it require shop frontage or can it be done online or over the phone?
Meet with your Local Enterprise Office. You may be entitled to grants or some other form of funding.
Watch your cash flow like a hawk. Overheads can walk on two legs don’t ya know?
Make sure your accounts are kept up to date. Failure to do so will almost certainly close your business, as late information is pointless and out of date.
Make sure all taxes are up to date. Avoid a Revenue audit at all costs.
Stay organised. Make sure you have a diary or spreadsheet and each day record your finances, your employees, your accounts, bank and stock. Review this spreadsheet at least once a week.
If you lose money, it’s possible to get it back; if you lose time, you can never get it back. Make sure you’re focused on making the best use of your time.
Business Plan—Where do I start?
Just as no two businesses are alike, no two business plans will be identical. A business plan does not have to follow a pre-determined pattern in approach or content, nor laid out identically to any other. You can be innovative in your presentation – BUT only with good reason. This is not colour-by-numbers; this is serious stuff.
The important thing to remember is that a business plan must be tailored to meet your individual business situation. Do you remember your leaving certificate English or History exam? No extra marks for “padding”! Don’t bluff, as lenders and investors will see right through it. Financiers will see this as you trying to distract them from what’s really important.
Presentation is everything. Pay attention to font, layout, colour, dividers, spelling and grammar. Make it look as professional as you can. Print it on good-quality paper and get it bound. People will judge you, to some extent, on this plan even if they don’t realise they’re doing it.
A business plan should be divided into three parts:
*Where are you now?
*Where do you want to be?
*How are you going to get there?
Where you are now?
What is your motivation to start this business and what experience do you have? Give details of the product or service you’re offering, backed by details of the market you’ll be trading in. Provide the research that concluded there’s a demand, and that this is a financially viable venture.
Where do you want to be?
Provide a marketing strategy outlining the competitive elements of the market (see Chapter 3). Include financial forecasts with income and expenditure breakdown (include these as appendices).
How are you going to get there?
Outline the resources necessary for your business to be a success. These include people, premises, equipment and funding. (Split the funding between what you’ve personally provided and the cash you require from a financier.)
When drafting your business plan, always open with an executive summary. To the reader, this will be the most important element. It might be the one and only opportunity for you to impress: DON’T BLOW IT!
An executive summary is simply a synopsis of the overall plan; it should be clear and concise. Like the opening scene of a blockbuster movie, it should leave your audience wanting more. It should be no longer than one page and it needs to contain:
*the background to your business/idea/product/service
*an outline of your proposal, what you’re trying to achieve
*what you need from your audience
If you plan to give details of your new product or service to potential investors, get them to sign a confidentiality agreement or NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement).
The conclusion of your executive summary is very important. Outline from the outset what exactly it is you require from the investors.