This project is part funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth & Jobs Northern Ireland (2014-2020) Programme

Why 2020 might be the right time to start your business

DATE: 20/12/19


You have a solid business idea. Something you’ve been mulling over for a while now. Something you feel confident has great potential, your gut tells you it will work! But, you’re not 100% ready to take the leap into entrepreneurship. You’re waiting for the ‘right time’. Feelings of political and economic uncertainty are unavoidable and most of us are holding our breath just waiting to see how things will take shape. It’s no surprise that many of us remain unsure about making big changes, especially about making the jump into self-employment. Pausing your plans until things feel a little clearer is no bad thing but why not take a moment to consider what you could be doing now to make sure you’re in a great position for when the time is right. Perhaps 2020 will be the year you Go For It!

So let’s be strategic. You feel good about your idea but what is next to get your entrepreneurial ducks in a row for when the time is right? Take a bit of time to set yourself some small goals to stay accountable, keep yourself on track and enjoy the satisfaction when you check those goals off your list along the way. So where to start?

How to prepare to launch a business

Goal 1 – Who is your audience?

Spending some time doing research into your target audience is hugely valuable. If you’re considering selling a product, it’s vital. If you’re selling a service, it’s vital. There are no new business ideas that don’t necessitate knowing who your audience is. What does that mean? It’s all about demographics. What age are the individuals you’d be targeting? Where do they live? Why would they be interested in your product or service? And then drilling down even deeper, how might you reach them, are they on social media, do they read print press, are they local, what problems might you be able to solve for them? Pulling together as much information as you can amass about your potential audience will serve you well when it comes to kick-starting your business.

TIP: Start by imagining yourself as your own customer. Who are you, what are you looking for and how can this product help you. Broaden your audience from there.

Goal 2 – Is there a market for your business idea?

Once you have identified who your audience is, you can move to your market. Have you considered testing out your business idea? Getting some feedback from potential customers? Checking in with people to see if they’d be interested in what you’re planning to launch? A simple questionnaire emailed out to everyone you know can be a great place to start. Or arranging small groups to chat with directly about your plans. Get an idea of price, of competition, of what people are looking for, of what they think about your idea. Any feedback is valuable and collating everything will quickly start to show patterns and indications that can help you to fine-tune and shape your business offering.

TIP: Free versions of platforms such as Survey Monkey can be a great place to start.

Goal 3 – Think about your competitors

It would be unusual to find a product or a service where no competition exists these days. Markets are saturated and cutting through the noise of everyone else on the scene is difficult. Have you considered who your competition is? Locally or further afield? Doing your homework on the market and who else is out there, what they are charging, what their message is, can be super informative and help you with what not to do, as much as what to do. Have a look at what is trending in your product or service area. Who are the market leaders, what are they doing that is working for them and who are the influencers that have impact? Keep a log of everything to help you avoid mistakes in your set up and motivate you to move ahead to keep up with your competitors.

TIP: Start by setting aside some quiet time to research through Google, Facebook, Instagram and to see what similar services or products are available locally.

Goal 4 – What about money?

Always the trickiest part. The bottom line here is the better prepared you are, the easier it is. Think about your budget and financial planning further down the line and things will be far more complex. But start early, get some basic planning in place before you set anything in stone, and you’ll feel better prepared, more secure in your decision making, and far more able to look around for funding for your business. Keep it simple if this is daunting. What does your product or service cost you? What other overheads might you have to consider? And what will you charge? Working out a simple gross and net profit, some reasonable pricing guidelines and having a loose idea of overheads will be incredibly helpful as you move forward in your planning.

TIP: Putting together your business plan with the Go For It Programme is a great way to figure out your financial forecasts for the first two years of business.

Goal 5 – Who else do I need to involve?

When you’re brainstorming your business idea, have a thought about the bigger picture. Does your business idea necessitate having a team in place? Will you have a supply chain to consider? Where are your products coming from and how will they reach your consumer? Be conservative to start with, keeping your team as small as possible and relying on as few external components as possible will minimize risk but it’s good to have a clear picture of who else is involved and how they will be part of the process.

TIP: Start small. Expanding is a great step, downsizing is far more complex.

Goal 6 – Get started with Go For It

Why try to do it all yourself when you can get free help? Give us a call at the Go For It Programme. We are here to help your new business to get up and running. When you join the programme you will be paired with an expert business advisor in your area and they will be on hand to help you consider all these questions and more. All this is provided free of charge for you. Once you move through the programme you’ll be pulling together a full business plan under the expertise and guidance from your business advisor.

Give us a call to arrange an appointment with your local business advisor for an in-depth chat about how the Go For It Programme can help you get your business idea 2020 ready.