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Richard Osborne, small business expert and founder of UK Business Forums, offers some clear advice to those wanting to set up their own company.
When you decide to take the plunge and start your own business, you will find it feels like your to-do list is never-ending. Mixed up with the excitement of starting your new business journey will be concern about whether you are doing the right thing and confusion about where to turn for trustworthy advice and guidance.
UKBF is the UK’s largest online community for small and micro-business owners where company founders tap into a wealth of expertise and experience, whatever stage their businesses are at. UKBF gathered seven tried and tested top tips from its membership community to share with those who are planning on starting a business.
Your business plan is a practical roadmap of how you will run your business and, according to Mark T Jones, it should include five key sections:
The Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound (SMART) goal-setting methodology is a really handy way to test your goals. It helps avoid some of the most common points of failure, such as not knowing how a goal will be measured.
Types of funding and sources of funding are often mistakenly seen as interchangeable, explains Mark T Jones. In reality, they are linked, but most certainly not the same. For example, banks and crowdfunding are often mentioned as types of finance whereas, in reality, they are sources of funding. A funding conversation should start with the type of funding that is most appropriate for you. And, to establish the appropriate type of funding you need to consider:
A good name is something every business needs. Not only will it help your business to resonate with customers and make marketing efforts easier, but it could also save you from a lot of legal trouble. Keep it simple and start by typing the name into a search engine like Google or Bing to quickly reveal whether your idea is a possibility. You may find that your proposed name is being used by somebody else. But this might not be an issue, so long as the name is not a trademark or a registered company.
It is important that you are clear about who your target audiences are and who will buy your products or services from the very start. If you haven’t got this nailed, your marketing and sales efforts could go off track so create three to six different buyer personas to plot out your key customers and how you can solve their problems. Personas are fictitious, but they’re based on research and data and typically include:
When you are planning your sales and marketing strategy, think about why people buy into what you’re offering? Think about what sets you apart from competitors and tease this out in your marketing messages. As UKBF member @Woody19 advises, “Sell a story, not the product. People buy WHY you do it, not WHAT you do. The story needs to resonate with your customer and their values and complement their own self-image.”
Online communities are a breeding ground for people who need help to start and grow a business. In other words, they are your potential customers! Investing time adding value to the community not only provides direct help to the individual you respond to, but it also leaves an internet trail for others to discover in the future. Get started by identifying the best forums for your business. Spend time reading them first and looking at the advice others are giving. Aim to be polite and helpful at all times and remember that whatever you post will remain there and be seen by many others.