Every year, millions of people start a business. But how do you go about it – and how can you give it a better chance of success? Here’s our simple six-step plan for taking the first step to entrepreneurial success.
1. Have an idea.
Behind every great business is a great idea. Often, it’s inspired by something that frustrates the founder. If you’re frustrated about something, then lots of other people probably are too.
The first place to look for an opportunity may be something that you think you could improve on. Plenty of success stories begin with the simple question: ‘what could I do to make this better?’
In fact, refining an idea that’s been tried could actually give you an advantage, because you won’t make the same mistakes as the people who pioneered it.
Facebook wasn’t the first business to try to make money out of people’s social networks online. But it was the first to make really big money. And Google wasn’t the first search engine. But it was the most thought-through. They learned from others’ mistakes. Now they’re huge, while the first movers have been forgotten.
2. Research the market
Before you commit to your new business, you need to research the market and be sure it has moneymaking potential. First, who are your competitors? You can easily do this free online by searching for the terms that you would use for your business. Even if you find a lot of competition, it means there is a market in the space you’re interested in. You can also look online for any existing research about ideas like yours.
Now you need to find out about your potential customers. Do you know anyone who fits the profile? Can you sit down and talk to them? Better still, can you give them a questionnaire that gives you some real insights? How much they would be prepared to pay for what you’re selling? Would they help you make it better? If you have more funding, then you might want to use the online tools that are available to help you with research.
3. Put together a business plan
Now you know there’s a market, you need to know how much money it’s going to cost to get up and running. Then how much profit can it reap, and how quickly. What are your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats? Your market research can help you answer these questions so that you can create a proper structured business plan.
4. Where are you going to get the funding?
Unless you’re very lucky, you’re going to need funding to get your business up and running. In the UK, Regus is part of a government-backed scheme called Start Up Loans that provides funding, mentoring and free workspace to help new businesses get off the ground.
You might consider borrowing from a bank, or if you’re lucky enough to have any, to use your savings. Many entrepreneurs borrow money from their family and friends, and more and more people are now using crowdfunding to get their businesses off the ground.
5. The practicalities
You will need to set up your company as a legal entity, talk to a bank about opening a business account, then make sure you have all the required insurance and that you’re set up to pay all the appropriate taxes. If your idea is unique, you’re going to want to protect it legally too.
6. You need space
Whatever your business is, you’re going to need a space. Many new entrepreneurs don’t want to tie up their finances with conventional property deals. Regus can help you grow your business with flexible workspace on the kind of terms you need, by the hour, by the day or by the year.