Starting a business can be overwhelming at the best of times, which is why some great ideas never make it to market. Every small business journey is going to be different but there are a number of fundamentals that every budding entrepreneur needs to follow. Below we have rounded up some essential advice to help make sure you get off to a flying start.
Spot opportunities in the market
“Isn’t it better to take a wait and see approach in the Brexit aftermath?”, we hear you ask. On the contrary, the best business opportunities often arise during times of economic uncertainty. All you have to do is take a look at companies like Airbnb, which were set up during the global financial crisis and have been extremely successful.
Research from Creditsafe suggests that the referendum result hasn’t put people off from launching a small business either. In September 2016, more UK businesses were set up in the 100-day period after the EU referendum than during the same period in 2015. The tourism, re-training, fintech, property and exporting sectors are areas of the market that are tipped to provide a host of opportunities for budding entrepreneurs.
Research the market, competitors and small business names
This is going to be critical to the success of your business. You need to evaluate the market. Is there demand for the product or service you want to sell? Who are your main competitors? How will you differentiate yourself from them? These are basic questions that you need to ask yourself as you start to get set up.
It’s important to expand beyond searching Google and talk to people. Finding experts in the field you want to enter and picking their brains about the market segment you want to enter is a great way to establish the viability of your idea or whether it needs to be tweaked. The British Library has an extensive amount of resources for entrepreneurs and here you can really dig deep into market trends and demands.
During the research phase, it’s also important that you make the necessary checks when it comes to business names. You need to make sure that your branding isn’t already taken and that the domain is available.
Remember you want to make it as easy as possible for customers to find your website. For British businesses a .UK family domain and .com are usually the best options. But there are now a wide range of domain extensions. Are you a London based bakery? Try companyname.london.
GoDaddy’s smart learning system will highlight insights and actions to help you achieve your goals.
Seek out a co-founder and investors
Starting a business is stressful but one of the best things you can do to make it easier is find a partner or investor early on. Someone who shares your passions, compliments your skills and who you can talk through ideas with is invaluable and will accelerate the speed at which you come to market and grow.
Networking events are a great way to meet like-minded entrepreneurs and make new contacts. The Small Business Federation runs multiple events throughout the year and offers a comprehensive list of resources. Or if you’re after something more social, try joining a network such as Meet Up, where you may stumble across a fellow ‘ideas’ person ready to kick-start with you.
Build a beautiful website in less than an hour
To get your business up and running quickly one of the priorities should be creating an eye-catching website. This will act as your digital shopfront and may negate the need to lease out expensive property. The advantage of using a website builder tool, such as GoDaddy’s next generation website builder, is that you can build a professional looking website in less than an hour, without technical expertise.
All you have to do to get started with GoDaddy’s Website Builder is enter the name of your site and the industry you’re looking to get into. The algorithms will automatically provide templates with relevant site features, content and images. You can then customise the website with your own photos and content from any device, including your smartphone.
Once you’ve set up your website, GoDaddy’s smart learning system will highlight insights and actions to help you achieve your goals. For instance, upon logging in, you’ll receive engagement and activity updates, giving you key insights into how to improve results. This might be something as simple as attaching the website to a social network or offering advice for developing a geographic-targeted Facebook advertising campaign.
Develop your business model
Every firm large or small is trying to forge loyal relationships with customers to help attract new and encourage repeat business. There are many innovative business models on the market that you can take inspiration from. For example, the aforementioned Airbnb and Uber are pioneers of the sharing model, where they act as a facilitator to allow people to share their own resources (accommodation, transport) on demand. More and more companies are also selling an experience (subscription box websites) or looking to produce products from recycled/up-cycled materials as part of the circular economy model (Thread). Meanwhile, widely renowned companies such as Nike and LEGO are turning to the co-creation model, allowing customers to design and personalise their own products.
Creating a small business plan is a huge step towards growth. The plan should be like a roadmap of how the business is going to develop over a specific period of time (three to five years). You should include goals and set about explaining how these will be achieved. There are some brilliant resources on the Gov.uk and HMRC websites, which can help you in the setup phase. Here you can find everything from business plan templates, to the different types of companies you can set up and details on any allowances you may be entitled to.
Ready, set, get marketing!
Once you’ve set up your business, you need to get eyeballs to your website and start building a community. The beauty of having an online business is that your overheads will be low but you will still need to set a budget and stick to it. There are plenty of cost effective ways to kickstart your marketing efforts. Although we live in a digital world, business cards and even flyers can still be a great investment.
Setting up a social media account on Facebook and Twitter are also great ways to gather a following online. But don’t discount other social media websites like Instagram or Snapchat. It all depends on the customers you want to reach, as to which social media channels you choose.
When you are able to set aside budget for marketing purposes, your first port of call should be email marketing. You may be surprised to learn that this is still the most cost-effective way to promote your business. For every $1 you spend on email marketing, you’ll see an average of $43 returned.
Be prepared to put in long hours
Don’t be fooled into thinking that starting a small business is a get rich quick scheme. There will be plenty of challenges, moments of frustration and it will take some time to grow to a point where it will provide a regular revenue stream. There is a high chance that you’ll be working on developing your business venture alongside a full time job, meaning long nights and work-filled weekends on all of the above, so make sure you have a passion for your business idea as this can help to make it a success, and put a smile on your face in the process!