Christmas snow

Why put off a new start to the New Year? Few people keep to their resolutions anyway. Don’t put the pressure on yourself as an entrepreneur and fight against a tide of people with the same thought. Put in the perspiration now and find the opportunities that are out there.

Experian’s First Steps research found that almost half of people want a career change, yet few had made progress towards making a change that could transform their lives. Often this isn’t a matter of laziness, but rather fear of the unknown and a misunderstanding of the real costs involved, making the problems seem much bigger and less manageable than they really are.

There’s no reason to be fearful about setting up a business with the right understanding. A budding entrepreneur has a vastly greater prospects of success if they lay the right foundations from the start. If this sounds interesting to you, then here’s how you can go about it:

Fix your financial fitness first

A business needs funds. Start-up capital is often important, but with lower business operating costs these days (thanks to cloud computing and the power of the internet), it’s not always necessary. More important is building a credit history, so that you can secure lending when you need it. Anyone can do this quickly, easily and for free by checking their credit score, which shows an entrepreneur what kind of loan they might get and how much they can responsibly afford to borrow. Advice is also available to help you improve your score.

Start your studies second

Good research will always yield dividends. A good businessperson will understand their market, consumer base, market conditions, and competitors intimately. The website has some good advice on conducting market research for businesses of all types. It’s worth really taking time and care to do this before diving headfirst into your passion – just in case others don’t yet share it.

Join the herd, third

A critical decision comes when deciding what structure the company should take. Different set-ups such as sole trader, partnership or limited company all have different tax implications, so take the time to seek professional advice about what will work best for your plans. Selecting the right structure at the start can avoid problems down the line.

Find the force, fourth

It’s a hard lesson but a key one: No one can do everything themselves. Seek help as soon as you think you’ll need it. Accountants, web designers, proper photographers, even a mentor. It needn’t break the bank as many professionals are considerate of start-ups, and it’s better to hire professionals rather than doing something inexpertly that will reflect badly on your fledgling brand.

Put yourself about forthwith, fifth

A great business deserves great visibility. As a founder, get out and network with local businesses and others in your ecosystem. Build up contacts and relationships with potential suppliers and customers, and listen to the advice they give. It will be time well spent. Be ready with a concise, well-crafted “elevator pitch” – and don’t forget your business cards!

As the business world settles down for the festive period, now’s the time for you to make plans for the opportunities the other side of New Year’s Eve. In doing so, you’ll be ahead of the game come January 1st and have no reason to set easily-broken resolutions.

By Ade Potts, Experian