Lots of people want to start a business but don’t know how to turn this longing into concrete steps that will achieve this goal.
The actions to take if you want to start a business are: Coming up with a business idea, carrying out market research, drawing up a business plan, getting to grips with legal and financial issues, and preparing a web presence for your business.
Let’s look at each of those steps in turn.
1. Coming up with a business idea
If you want to start a business but don’t know what to do next, coming up with a business idea is probably the biggest stumbling block you’re facing.
Here are some things you can do that can help you develop a new business idea:
Focus on your existing knowledge and skills
Lots of successful businesses are launched off the back of an existing job or hobby, so this is an area where you can seek inspiration.
For example, will your skills allow you to launch a consultancy business? Or are you good enough at yoga to offer classes? Or are people willing to pay for the jewellery you make?
If you can utilize your existing knowledge and skills, you should be able to find an idea that works for you.
Look at existing businesses/products and try to identify gaps in the market
Which businesses or products do you use on a regular basis? Is there something missing from what they offer?
Many good business ideas come from people who find that existing businesses or products aren’t meeting their needs.
If this is the case for you, you’ll need to ensure you validate your idea by conducting market research (covered below).
Don’t get hung up on “original” ideas
Some people who want to start a business think they have to come up with an absolutely original idea, but that isn’t the case.
Just look at Facebook – it wasn’t the first social network, but that didn’t stop it achieving global success.
On a smaller scale, think how many plumbers there are, or how many accountants, or how many cafes.
Originality isn’t a must for a business idea – if people have proved an idea works, then it’s a sign that it could work for you too.
That said, starting a new business in a crowded market comes with its own challenges – such as being able to compete on price and still turn a profit, or being able to attract customers if they’re already happy with existing businesses in your chosen niche.
Again, carrying out proper market can help address some of these challenges.
If you’re struggling to come up with an idea, then you can check out this list of 30 work from home business ideas.
2. Carrying out market research
Coming up with a business idea is one thing, but you need to know if people are interested in that idea. And if they are interested, you need to know they’ll be willing to buy your product/service at a price that means you can make a profit.
This is where market research comes in.
The basic idea of market research is to identify your expected target audience and then find out if they will be interested in your business.
To start, you’ll need to create customer personas, and then identify people who match your target demographic and ask them to answer questions relating to your business.
Obviously, this can be expensive but it’s the gold standard for market research and investing money at this stage is an especially good idea if you’re planning to start a business in a sector with high start-up costs as you may save money in the long run.
You can also conduct market research by accessing things like governmental statistical data and industry reports. Conducting market research in this way is the cheaper option, but it won’t provide you with in depth information about how potential customers react to your specific business idea.
You find that you have to adjust your business idea based on the results of your market research.
You can find a guide to carrying out marketing research here.
3. Drawing up a business plan
What will your business do? Who are your customers? How will you make money? What are your plans for growth? What does success look like for your business?
These are some of the important questions that a good business plan should answer.
A business plan will help provide a roadmap for your business, and will come in handy if you need to seek out funding for your business.
You’ll have gathered a lot of information you need for your business plan while deciding on your business idea and carrying out your market research.
4. Get to grips with legal and financial issues
Sole trader or a limited company? And how will you raise funds to start your business if you need them? And what tax will you need to pay?
These are just some of the financial and legal questions you’ll have to deal with when setting up a business.
As no two businesses are the same, you may want to speak to a small business adviser to help make sure you come to the right decisions on these issues.
5. Preparing a web presence for your business
Having a business website of some kind is a crucial part of getting started. Whether you’re planning to sell your product/service via your site, or just want it to act as a brochure where people can go to find out more about you, it pays to get your site up and running early on.
You should make sure you secure the domain name(s) you want as soon as you can in order to avoid disappointment. (You’ll also need to make sure those domain names don’t violate anyone else’s intellectual property.)
When it’s time to build a website, you can check out this guide to the easiest way of getting a small business website.
And of course if you need any help, GoDaddy will be able to guide you through the process of getting your new business online.