Is there ever a good time to start a business? It’s a big step that often means leaving a job behind, working on your weekends and potentially losing it all before you’ve really begun. Saying that, an entrepreneurial existence is one of the most rewarding lifestyles there is: you are your own boss; you have creative control; and the money can eventually come piling in. However, it’s a task that shouldn’t be underestimated and a decision not to be taken lightly. This is what you need to consider:
This will often be needed to secure funding, investors etc., but writing up a thorough business plan should be done for you, not just your bank manager. It’ll give you a reference point – in the early days the creative juices will not just be flowing, but pouring, having everything on paper in front of you will ensure the concept is honed and that it makes sense. As opposed to a smattering of half-baked ideas.
Quite frankly, what’s your target audience? Does the product or service already exist? How are competitors doing? Is there even a need for it? Conduct a bit of market research and ensure you’ve got the answers to these questions.
GET SOME FEEDBACK
With a business plan and audience research both in mind and in hand, get some impartial feedback. Close friends and family will often be too polite to say it’s a ridiculous idea. So, unless you’ve got a particularly brutal brother, put together a focus group of friends of friends and gather some honest opinions.
How are you getting the word out there? Social media, traditional advertising, guerrilla campaigns? There’s a myriad of options and picking the right ones will be key to any success. How are people going to find out about you?
See our article: How to market your startup on social media
Unless an unheard-of relative from Uganda has left you £20 million and a very kind lawyer has got in touch to wire you the money, financing could be an issue. Cash flow is a startup killer and finding that initial investment can be tricky, although an airtight business plan will help you secure it if you do find a contact. Have all of your funding in place before making any drastic life decisions about starting your business.
Sales agreements, contracts, licenses to sell… have these drafted professionally and in place – the last thing you want is to be screwed over by an unexpected lawsuit or some wonky wording in an agreement that causes serious issues further down the line. Also, sole-trader? Limited company? Get everything in line before you launch.
Will you need any employees? How much will you pay them and, more importantly, how much are you paying yourself? Factor what your breadline will be and whether your business will make enough money to support itself and you. If not, it’s time to have a rethink on the financials.
HOW TO GET OUT
Like on an aircraft, know where your emergency exits are. If things start to go south, parachute yourself out at the right time as opposed to going down with a sinking ship; the last thing you want is to be crippled for decades because your exit strategy wasn’t planned correctly. No one wants to fail, but sometimes it’s worth planning for it.
DO YOU REALLY WANT TO DO THIS?
The longest working hours, periods of financial hardship, limitless amounts of stress and giving up the security of a salaried job – if you can live with all of these things then go for it. Business is difficult and punishing, but oh so rewarding.
If startup life is beckoning, see: 21 signs you know it’s time to quit your job
Image: Cover & Featured: Flickr