Starting a new business can be both wonderfully liberating and staggeringly traumatic. However, with forethought and planning, the traumatic part of the process can certainly be lessened. Read on for our six top tips for new business owners.
Be Prepared to Budget Realistically
Let's start with the topic that is probably on the mind of any new business owner more than anything else - money. There is no point beating around the bush here, you are going to need cash, which means you are probably going to need some form of start up business loan.
There are many places you can go for a business loan in the UK. The government has its own agency that may be able to help you. There are companies that specialise in business loans for startups. Plus, there are also many building societies and high street banks who may be prepared to assist you.
Just remember to be realistic. Do not ask for money for anything you can do without. Make a list of things you want and then whittle it down to things you need. That’s what you should present. Companies providing start up business loans look more favourably on people who are serious about initial costs.
Don’t Sell, Give Solutions
There have been many ideas that have failed miserably and the sad fact is that, in many cases, it wasn't the product that was the problem, it was the execution. Let's look at an example.
If you are trying to sell double-glazing, your potential customers do not care what type of glass it uses, how long the PVC will last, or what colours it comes in. Well, they might, but those things are likely to be secondary concerns. What your customers really want to know is how it will solve the problems they are having.
If you concentrate on the fact that your double-glazing will reduce their bills by 20%, that double-glazing increases the value of a house by 5%, or that having double-glazing lessens the chances of being burgled by 50% then those are issues that the homeowner is going to be interested in.
Learn How to Pitch Well
This will vastly increase your opportunities if done well. I am sure you have heard of the 'elevator pitch'. In fact, there is even a TV show whose premise is exactly that; to sell an idea in 60 seconds.
What makes a good elevator pitch? Firstly, give as many solutions as you can. The more solutions you mention, the more the chances are that the person you're speaking to has a problem that you can solve. Also, make sure you include a mission statement so the person has an idea of your goals.
Remember, your sales pitch is not to get an order, it's to get an opportunity to give a more complete presentation of what you can do. Keep it short and sweet with the goal to get an appointment, not a sale.
Change During Good Times
We've all heard the expression, 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it', but this is a short-sighted philosophy. If we held to the 'if it ain't broke' philosophy, we'd all still be living in caves with an average lifespan of 25.
However, there are good times to look at ways to improve things and terrible times. When sales are good and money is coming in, that's the time to look at ways to streamline your business, improve deliverability rates, or invest in a new piece of software.
To paraphrase Jack Ma, of Alibaba fame, he says he looks to change his company when things are going well. If Alibaba were in trouble, he would be much more cautious about what he did. As he says, "If the storm comes, you don’t go up and repair the roof – you’ll be destroyed."
Concentrate on Staying Healthy
This is often not included in many lists when it comes to tips for new business owners, but it should be. Of course, you should look after yourself at all times, but pay closer attention to your own health when you are starting a new business.
It might be very tempting to work all hours of the day and night. New business owners often feel that there is some kind of unwritten rule that they have to, but that is rather foolish. Here are two areas you should concentrate on when it comes to your health:
Firstly, make sure you're getting enough sleep. You are not doing your business any good by walking around in a daze. Secondly, make sure you exercise. If you're not fond of it, you could look at exercise as a way to meet new customers and to practise your pitch.
Know When to Give Up
Finally, whilst not giving up easily is certainly a character trait that will stand you in good stead as a business owner, you have equally got to know when it's time to throw in the towel. That’s not to say that at the first sign of trouble, you should just surrender.
However, if you truly believe you have tried everything and if you continue, you will end up losing even more with dire consequences, then it is definitely time to consider accepting the truth and cutting your losses. There is no shame in failure.
Many of history’s most successful entrepreneurs have had countless ‘failures’ along the way; with most of them saying they are glad it happened as it contributed to them learning important lessons that helped them secure bigger success later on.
It is almost always the case that people who end up owning a business wonder how they stayed working for someone else for so long. However, it’s almost always the case that those people have made a success out of their plan. So, prepare well, get a good start up business loan if you need one, plan for every eventuality, and you have a good chance of being one of the people wondering how.