You’ve got a great idea. You’ve got the passion and the commitment. You’re ready to start to start your own business. So what do you need to first?
- Do your market research. It might be a great idea but is there a commercial market for the product or service?
- Ask yourself: do you have the knowledge, experience and muscle (both influence and financial) to get it to market? Consider what experience or professional training you have had which is relevant for starting, running, growing and profitably exiting a business. Be honest in identifying your skills and knowledge gaps and then figure out how to fill them.
- Seek professional advice. Get advice on the areas you know little about from people who do know. Remember also, that ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’. Don’t rely too heavily on what you ‘think’ you should know and do. Even if your business idea is going to see you working from your kitchen table as a Sole Trader, still go and get some advice from at least a successful business coach, a knowledgeable accountant and probably a trustworthy lawyer as well.
- Find out the best set-up for your business. At the simplest level a Sole Trader status can be set up quickly and without too much formality. But do you understand the implications? Maybe the correct legal entity for you is a limited liability partnership, a limited company, a charity, or a social enterprise. You need to get advice.
- If you’re starting the business with someone else, think carefully: are you going to work well as a team? How do you structure the arrangement correctly? Are you equal partners? Do you have an agreement on what will happen given possible, and definite, circumstances in the future (e.g dispute, critical illness)? These are all things that need to be considered NOW while you are friends, still alive, and in a position to discuss issues properly without emotion.
All these steps are crucial as the decisions you make at this stage are the foundations for what you build going forward. Of course you then need to focus on the operational aspects of getting a business started: the funding, the website, advertising, your networking, your business plan, and all the myriad activities that will become your daily focus of attention in the time ahead. But the importance of these pre-startup considerations cannot be over-emphasised.
Then, once you’ve identified the need for the product or service, the price, volume/frequency needed and the route to market, and you’re confident that you have the commitment, the stamina, the resources, the commercial knowledge and the support (family, friends and the right business team) to see the idea through, then proceed beyond Go.
There’s no rule about which ideas can become successful businesses. You never know – it might be your great idea that’s a winner!
By Daryl Woodhouse, CEO of Advantage Business Partnership and co-author of ‘Creating Business Advantage: Setting Up and Running a Successful Business’