If you’re thinking about setting up your own business, there’s a lot to consider. There may be certain aspects you know more about and others less. Pre-launch research is key and to give you a head start, we’ve rounded up some of the most Frequently Asked Questions in those early stages of starting up your own business.
How do I know what business I should start?
What is the business for you? Firstly think hard about what you’re passionate about. What is it that you would be happy doing day in and day out? We won’t all necessarily love every moment of our own business but it’s helpful to at least start by finding something that you love.
Next consider whether there is a need for your product or service? Do you think you have found something that can meaningfully impact your customers lives? Something that provides a solution that is currently unavailable or that you’ve improved upon? Finding a niche in this way is a good jumping off point. It’s helpful if you have some knowledge or experience in the area you are thinking about. No one will know everything but having grounding in the fundamentals is a real benefit.
On a practical level, it’s important that the business you chose gives you the opportunities you are looking for. If you are planning to set up as a free-lancer and provide a service that starts and ends with you, that’s great. But if you prefer to build and scale a business that later you’d like to sell, make sure the business you choose has the potential to do that.
Once you’ve figured out the nature of the business, the next step is to do some research into its financial prospects. Knowing potential set up costs, overheads, and possible earnings will quickly inform you of whether the business can be financially viable before you launch.
What is a business plan and why do I need it?
Consider a Business Plan as a road map for your business. For the launch, for the growth, for the exit. A business plan allows you to research your potential business, to plan your product, your financial structure, your marketing goals, and the strategy that you will stick to as you move ahead. It’s a chance to flesh out any hurdles you might face, to really dig deep into your financial planning and to establish areas that need more attention before you launch. It’s also a key document to have if you plan to look for funding or investment at any stage of your business.
Developing a researched and coherent business plan can ultimately save you time and money and will keep you accountable to the original goals and objectives you’ve set.
For more information about Why Your Business Plan is So Important.
How can I fund my business?
Funding will be different for everyone and every business. You may be interested in setting yourself up as a freelancer offering services and requiring minimal overheads. The funds you’ll need to set up will be far lower than someone who has a product to research, test, launch, package and get out to market. Once you’ve fleshed out your financial requirements in your business plan you can start to look for funding.
Most small business are launched using one or several of the following:
- Personal Funds
- Financial help from family and friends
- Bank Loan
- Crowd Funding
- Angel Investors
Depending on your region and business, there may also be funding opportunities open to you. Read more about Financial Support in Northern Ireland .
How will I know if the time is right to launch my business?
The ‘right’ time will be a combination of your personal circumstances as well as your professional ones. For some people, redundancy is the catalyst for their new business launch, or a move to a new city or country that might turn your business idea into a reality. For other people, the time will be right when children have left home and they can dedicate themselves to a business. Market conditions can also provide an optimal time to launch if your product is in high demand or you’re solving a problem that many people deal with.
How can I come up with a great name for my business?
Are you already attached to the name of your business or product, or are you still trying to find a memorable, catchy name that will forever be associated with it? Whatever stage you are at, it’s helpful to speak to a Branding Professional to be sure that you’re on the right path. It’s always useful for someone objective to look at your product or service, and linking that with your objectives to come up with something they think is on brand and will see your business through the stages of growth.
How can I find out who my customers are?
Customer identification takes research. Consider your product or service and who ideally will be buying or using it. Once you have an idea, try and flesh out as much about those individuals as possible. Age, location, interests, income etc. The more information the better so that you can best establish who your target audience is and then find out how to communicate with them. When you know who you are talking to, you can work out where to find them, which social networks they use and when, will they respond to advertising online, and what press do they read etc? Piecing together as much as you can about each target audience group is invaluable.
Read more about how to find your customers
How can I go about marketing my business?
First take some time really mapping out your brand. What is your product or service, and who is its target audience? What are the goals of your brand? What is the voice your brand will have when it speaks to its customers? And what will your brand look like online or in print? Once you’ve established these fundamentals, combine your results with your customer research and figure out how best to market your specific product to your specific customer. Perhaps social media marketing is the best place to invest your time and financials, or maybe print media will suit your customers best? Starting small and evaluating the success and failures through small test campaigns is useful. You can take what works and discard what does not going forward.
What will the biggest challenges?
The challenges of starting your own business will vary depending on the type of business you embark on, changes in the economy and market, or changes in your own personal circumstances. In general, the most commonly felt challenges include:
- Getting to know all aspects of the business
- Creating a product or service that serves a purpose or solves a problem
- Having a strong researched business plan
- Managing long working hours and finding a good work-life balance
- Cash flow and raising funds to scale the business
- Finding a good team to support you
- Learning how to manage problems within the business
Experiencing these challenges are common to most if not all business owners. Understanding that they are part of the entrepreneurial journey and it’s no failure to feel any of them is important. Asking for support from mentors and programmes who can guide you through your start up journey can really help.
Whatever your business idea, whether it’s just something you’ve been mulling over or whether you’ve taken some steps on the entrepreneurial path already, we’d love to help. Read some of our Go For It Success Stories and get in touch. Our business experts will be delighted to hear from you and to talk you through everything you might need to know to move forward with your business concept.