It’s famously difficult to get a new, unproven small business idea off the ground. This makes sense; investors are reluctant to hand over cash for ventures they aren’t sure about, so only the most cast-iron and robust business proposals will usually meet with success.
If you’ve got an idea for a small business and you want to get it off the ground, you might think it’s going to be a huge struggle, but there’s a lot you can do to accelerate the process.
Here are 10 tips for getting a new business idea up and running.
1. Fund with your own money
Some business consultants advise against funding businesses with your own money; they say that keeping your personal and work finances separate is a good idea.
While we understand the logic of this position, it’s not always tenable, so one way to help get your business off the ground is simply to fund it yourself. If you aren’t able to procure a business loan, you might even consider personal finance initiatives like second mortgage loans, personal unsecured loans, and the like.
No investor is going to want to take a chance on your business idea unless it looks rock-solid. The only way to ensure a business meets this criterion is to construct a flawless, foolproof business plan that leaves no room for doubt in investors’ minds.
They should be able to see exactly how much you intend to make and how you intend to make it without navigating labyrinthine jargon or legalese.
Keep your plan succinct, simple, and successful.
Building a network of like-minded individuals and organisations is a great way to get a business idea off the ground. If you have people around you who know you’re a savvy entrepreneur with good ideas, then you’re more likely to be able to acquire funding.
Of course, you might need to prove yourself to your network before they’ll give you any cash; after all, you’re still asking for an investment, so expect them to introduce their own terms as well.
Don’t despair if you’re not able to secure funding from a traditional business loan. There are plenty of other avenues you can go down; it’s never over until you’ve exhausted every potential option available to you.
These include angel investment, venture capital, and a number of other ways that you can approach business funding. You could even talk to your family and friends and ask if they would be willing to help; if the idea means enough to you, then you should be able to sell it to them just as well as any investor!
Obviously, market research is a critical part of setting up any business venture; you’ve got to know whether there’s a space for you in the market or not.
However, market research is also a great tool for understanding how to establish yourself in your given industry. Look at the way your competitors built themselves up. Is there a lesson you can learn in terms of how you approach your own business plan? The answer is almost always yes.
Even before your business has been set up, it’s a good idea to talk to the people who are going to avail themselves of your services, whether that be customers to buy your product or clients to take advantage of your service.
Ask them what they would want to see from a business and what kind of niches they think need to be filled. You never know; you might decide to change direction entirely based on the feedback you get, so it’s always worthwhile doing this.
Unfortunately, the reality is that a huge proportion of startups will fail within their first few years. This doesn’t necessarily reflect badly on you as an entrepreneur; it just means that the time wasn’t right for the idea you had, so you’ll need to reassess things, step back, and return when everything is aligned better. 42% of businesses fail because there’s no need for their services or products, which further highlights the importance of market research as we discussed earlier.
The world of small business is differentiated from that of larger corporations by the degree to which it’s necessary to take risks. You won’t be able to make any progress in the incredibly competitive industries in which you want to exist if you don’t push the boat out every now and then. That idea you’re turning over in your mind, wondering whether it’s too risky? If the funding allows, do it. If it doesn’t pan out, then you can say you tried, and it’s better to try than to rest on your laurels in business.
Your branding needs to communicate who you are, what you do, and why people should choose you over your competitors. It needs to do this succinctly and without confusion; branding is nine-tenths of the battle when it comes to business, so even if your product isn’t entirely where you want it to be yet, having strong branding will still bring in customers. Work closely with graphic designers, copywriters, and other branding experts to build a foolproof brand.
Naturally, hiring staff isn’t necessarily going to be a primary consideration until your business is in the right place for you to do so. However, when it does come time to think about bringing on additional personnel, you need to make sure you’re hiring the right people. Don’t skimp on the interview process and always discuss prospective hires with someone you trust; an outside pair of eyes can be the difference between success and failure in many things, especially human resources.