My first question is: which of the three little pigs would you rather be? Yes, you have probably heard the story of ‘The Three Little Pigs’ but you might be wondering what it’s got to do with starting a business.
Just to recap on the story (and explain it if you don’t know it),….
The Three Little Pigs have been sent out into the world by their mother, to ‘seek their fortune’. The first Little Pig builds his house out of straw but a wolf blows it down and the pig runs to this brother’s house. The second Little Pig builds a house out of sticks but the wolf blows that down too. The brothers run to the third Little Pig’s house which is made of hard bricks. The wolf tries, but fails to blow this house down. The wolf tries several times to trick the Little Pigs into leaving the brick house, but each time, the pigs outsmart him. Finally, the wolf decides to come down the chimney. What he doesn’t know is that the Three Little Pigs have outsmarted him again and he falls into a pot of boiling water and is cooked.
So what has this story got to do with starting a business? You can build your business out of ‘straw’ or ‘sticks’ but it won’t take much for the ‘wolves’ to blow it down. If you build your business out of bricks and with a strong foundation, it will withstand any attempts that the ‘wolves’ might make to blow it down.
So what makes up a strong, solid foundation for your business and how can you make sure the ‘bricks’ you use to build it, are the strongest around?
When starting a business, the first thing you need to have is a clear and detailed PLAN. Do make sure the plan includes these five key ingredients.
1. Create a business plan, even if you are the only one who will see it
It will give you a map of where you want to go, supported with information of how you are going to achieve it.
Starting a business without a plan is like embarking on a journey to somewhere foreign without working out the full costs, the time scales, the language you need to speak when you arrive and the route you need to take to get there safely.
Have enough MONEY in your ‘start up pot’
It can take up to 6 months to really start making a profit to cover your costs, so make sure you have enough to launch your business, buy equipment, buy products (if applicable), market it and pay yourself during that time.
Add in a contingency because things will go wrong, mistakes will be made and unforeseen problems will arise.
2. Have a clear MARKETING Plan
Make sure you have identified at least 5 different ways to attract your perfect client before you launch your business. These can include direct mail, networking, display advertising, email campaigns and telemarketing.
Take time to research what will work for your business. Take a look at what your competitors are doing.
Work out WHO your perfect client is, HOW they like to be communicated with and then WHERE they spend their time – keep these in mind when working out your marketing plan.
3. Get your WEBSITE and SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE sorted before you launch your business
How many times do you go and check out a business online before you make the decision to buy from them? Your potential clients will do the same. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.
Make sure you have the Twitter, Facebook and Website domain names for your business as soon as you know what that name is.
Create an account on LinkedIn too.
Get an easy to navigate, attractive website up and running before you officially launch your business. Ensure you have calls to action on your site so you can capture information for your database.
If you feel brave and confident enough, get some videos done to post on your website.
Have an e-newsletter ready to go onto it too.
4. Make sure everything is LEGAL and your business is protected
Let HMRC know as soon as possible that you have started your business.You have 3 months to let them know or you will have to pay a fine
Check which class of National Insurance Contributions you need to pay.
If you are going to hold data on customers or prospects, you need to register with Data Protection. It’s an annual cost of £35.
If you are planning on setting up as a partnership, ask for professional help from an accountant and solicitor. You may be friends at the beginning but as we all know, it can all change.
5. Protect the TECHNOLOGY that is essential for your business
Most businesses need at least one computer to operate successfully, even if it’s just for ‘doing the books’. Always make sure you regularly backup your data and computer configuration. It’s not difficult or expensive. If you lost all of the information on your computer, would you business survive?
TAKE TIME TO REGULARLY REVIEW THESE FOUNDATIONS OF YOUR BUSINESS AND MAKE ANY CHANGES NECESSARY.
ONE THING WE ALL CAN DEPEND ON IS, THINGS ALWAYS CHANGE. BE READY TO MEET THOSE CHANGES CONFIDENTLY AND POSITIVELY.
I hope you found this article useful. If you have any questions that we can help with, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!
Author: Alida Ballard, from Surrey Accounting Services, Alida offers small businesses a proactive accountancy service that will work closely with you to help you grow your business. They offer on-going business support, which includes setting targets and helps you be more in control. You can also get help with services such as bookkeeping, payroll, credit control and monthly reports that help you run your business more profitably. firstname.lastname@example.org, 01932 353146, 07595 924644
This article was first published on Fabulous Women, and is kindly published with their permission. If you would like to read more articles from Alida and other small business experts, do check it out.