Maybe I should have put this at the beginning but there is a method in my madness. I wanted to show a little of the hard work that goes into getting a business off the ground before thinking about how to start one up. A lot of people don't appreciate all of the elements involved in setting up a business and keeping it moving, making it grow and developing it. They see people who work from home and think it looks like an easy life. I just wanted to show that there's more to it than that before showing how to go about getting it started.
Some people just get started, they pick up a ladder and bucket and head off knocking on doors or with a little batch of printed flyers and they just get started, they're in business, they are a window cleaner. Simple. But what do they do when Mrs 45 complains that Mrs 32 pays a pound a week less for window cleaning and the next thing she's reviewing you on Facebook telling everyone that your prices depend on how young you are? What happens when you leave your ladder propped up against a wall to refill your bucket and when you come back there's a 2 year old at the top of it? Who do you turn to when you fall off your ladder and destroy a customer's conservatory on the way down? Won't it mess with your logistics and waste your time if you only have two customers in one part of town who both want their windows cleaning on the same day as the forty customers you have right over the other side of town? Is the chap at number 60 going to recommend your services to his neighbours and friends at the pub when you turn up once a month then other times it's once a fortnight and other times you don't show for weeks or you forget to do his side windows?
Every business, no matter how easy it looks, needs some structure and planning and thought. Every business should start with a business plan. No bank or government grant or loan scheme for new businesses will even look at you without a business plan, so if you might need or qualify for some financial assistance to get started you must have one. Even if you don't need financial assistance you will find that a business plan helps you to focus and helps you to see if your business has validity before you waste valuable resources in setting it up.
There are tons of free templates for business plans out there on the internet and some are more involved than others. What a business plan should contain is information which is relevant to your business, it should identify risk and opportunity in your market and industry and it should show potential for growth. It should also show how your business will be established, who will work for it, who will be responsible for it, what type of business it will be and will help you to clarify legal aspects of running a business. Importantly it will also show you how your product or service fits in the market, if there is a demand for it, if it is a viable product or even a legal product.
Your business plan should also contain the name of your business, where it will be registered and where it will operate from although these elements like many others can be changed before you start trading and indeed after you start trading.
A business plan is a fluid organic document it should be open for amendment and updating regularly and when you first put one together expect it to go through many draft stages before you arrive at the final version. It is rare for a business plan to be written once and for it to be complete and perfect. Always get professional and lay-person advice and feedback on your plan. Someone with legal business knowledge or accounting knowledge may spot a glaring flaw in your plan whilst a lay person may spot a glaring flaw in your product and on a more positive note people who review your business plan may spot potential and opportunity which you didn't think of.
When you start up a new business especially if you start receiving clients and customers very quickly it can take you by surprise if you have not plan or you are not ready and your systems are not ready to deal with clients and customers and the last thing you want is poor reviews from day one so spending time on your business plan will help you to cope with early success well and to avoid early failure. A business plan will help you to think through your processes and identify any potential pitfalls and will help you develop your policies and procedures. It will help you to identify which social media accounts will be good for you, it will identify potential network opportunities and identify suppliers and service providers who offer you a good service and a good price.
When you have time to write and research your plan, before you get busy with your business, it's a good time to really do the plan justice and cover all bases. Not only will it help your business run smoothly when it starts, it will also show to potential investors that you are serious and committed and prepared to work hard and that you are looking at the business as a long term sustainable offering and not just as a way to make a few extra pounds on the side.
I could go on and talk about funding your start up, staffing it, finding premises and all of that but I won't and why won't I? Because all of that is covered by the business plan. It really is the way to start a business.
One other crucial tip which I've saved until last is get your domain names bought. As soon as you know what you want to call your business look for the domain names you may need and snap them up. Change your business name if the one you wanted is not free or is too expensive. Even if you don't think you will go online still buy the domain name cheaply just in case. Do not name your business, brand it, have logos designed and then find that the domain name is taken... trust us we found out the hard way.
There is tons of help out there but if you would like more assistance from us then we are always happy to help. Our rates are super competitive and we specialise in small , new and handmade businesses in particular. Just check us out and get in touch by clicking here.
I really hope that you've found this mini series of business blogs useful if you are thinking of starting up a small business or if you have already and are struggling a little bit. Sometimes it pays to stop and start again if you possibly can or at least slow down and have a little think.
Comment or message me with any questions. I'm always happy to help if I can.