10 quick tips to get you started in business

Starting a new business? There so many things you need to think about that it can get overwhelming trying to work out what you need to prioritise your time on. 

To help you, here are 10 quick tips (with helpful links) on everything from getting funding (such as a Merchant Cash Advance) to nailing your branding, to get your business off to a flying start.

1) Write a plan

Every successful business usually starts with a solid business plan. So if you haven’t attempted one yet, we highly recommend you do so as soon as possible.

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A business plan will help you target your time, energy and budget in the areas that are most likely to help you grow your business, and shows you areas that need more thought.

There are plenty of free online templates for business plans. Here’s some guidance on putting a business plan together.

2) Identify your customers

Every single aspect of your business – from product or service development to your social media strategy – needs to be planned with one person in mind: your ideal customer.

So if you haven’t already clearly defined who will buy what you offer and why, now is the time to start. To help you, here are the questions you need to ask to create your customer avatar.

3) Work out your USP

Most start up businesses worry about competition, and panic if they see someone offering a similar product or service. But they shouldn’t worry too much.

Ideally, your business should have competitors. Why? Because it tells you there’s a valid marketplace and customer need for your offering. And your competitors are all helping to educate your marketplace, making it easier to talk about what you do.

Your competition also won’t be a threat to you if you have a genuine USP – something that makes what you do completely unique. Every single business in your marketplace should ideally have different USPs, and appeal to a different audience segment or need.

Here’s how to work out your USP (and where you need to use it).

4) Work out your budget

Some businesses can be launched on a miniscule budget. Others need investment to get off the ground. So before you properly launch your business, work out how much it will cost you, and where you’ll find that money.

Things to consider include:

  • Creating and delivering your products and services.
  • Delivering your marketing plan.
  • Creating your branding and logo.
  • Designing and building your website.
  • Training and outsourcing (for example, how will you manage social media).
  • Administration and accounting.
  • Equipment (laptop, printer, phone etc).

5) Plan your marketing

It doesn’t matter how tiny your startup business is, one thing you can’t afford to overlook is a marketing plan. How will customers know you exist? What will they think of you? What will motivate them to visit your shop, cafe or website and buy from you?

All these questions will be answered by a marketing plan. Not got one yet, nor any idea how to write one? To get you started, here are five questions your marketing plan needs to answer.

6) Deliver great service

Too many small businesses are focused on acquiring new customers. And while this is certainly important, it’s equally essential that you keep your existing customers returning to you; if you can, you want to turn them into fans.

And to achieve this you need to deliver consistently great customer service. Here’s how to use customer service as a marketing tool.

7) Get your branding right

Great branding is much more than just picking a logo for your business. Your brand is your business’ living, breathing personality. It’s created in every interaction you have with a customer or potential customer, supplier… or anyone!

If you haven’t already given proper thought to your brand, here are six tips to help you build the right brand image for your business.

8) Find your business allies

Heard the expression ‘no man is an island’? Businesses are exactly the same. Finding and nurturing business allies will help you to reach new markets, strengthen your brand, and give you access to invaluable experience and advice, and important emotional support when you need it.

Find out why brand partnerships are so valuable, and read five steps to help you grow them.

9) Look after yourself

Behind every business is a human being. And if you want your business to succeed you need to nurture that human being (in this case – you)! So don’t get so caught up in building your business that you neglect your own physical and mental health.

Even just tiny, positive actions taken daily can help protect you from stress and burnout (like this easy mindfulness exercise), and give you the energy and enthusiasm you need to grow your business.

10) Keep riding the roller coaster

And finally, running a business is like being riding a roller coaster. You’ll have wonderful highs when things go right, lurching lows when things don’t go as you’d hoped, and frustratingly slow periods when it feels like you’re just trundling along with nothing happening.

The real key to success is to keep riding the roller coaster. To survive the lows, and celebrate the highs.

So if you’re having a tough day, week or month in your business, please know this is normal. Adapt if you need to, but otherwise keep putting one foot in front of the other. And if you’re having a great day, week or month, celebrate it!

Photo by Ellyot