Making the leap from employee to small business owner can be a scary thought. But with the right state-of-mind and preparation, you can start your small business on the road to success.
Starting your own small business is an empowering and exciting evolution for your career, but it’s essential to arm yourself with the right information first. Here are our tips to set your small business on the right path from the get-go.
Tip #1: Get to the bones of your business
Time to set the pipe dreams aside and think about your small business in a practical, unsentimental way. You’ll need a laptop/pen and paper at the ready for this one – you’ll be asking yourself a lot of tough questions.
Start by getting to the heart of your business and its target market. What problem (or problems) are you solving for your clients/customers? What will your point of difference be from your competitors?
Now you need to consider your limits: do you have enough spare time to invest in your idea and its realisation? How much financial support is at the ready? Essentially, how will you make it all come together and what do you need to do this.
You may need to reconsider your offering or tweak some aspects, but it’s best to know now rather than down the track.
Tip #2: Draw up a realistic budget
A budget is essential. If you’re not confident drawing one up yourself, look for help from the community, advisors and other small business owners. Market research should also help you understand your rates, overheads and the ebbs and flows of the industry.
Once you’ve started estimating your business costs, start adding in your lifestyle costs. And don’t be conservative – if you’re stingy about the numbers, it’s only going to bite you later. You should get an understanding of whether your business is sustainable.
To help with money matters, is it possible to start your small business rolling while you’re still nestled in the comfort and stability of another job? Sure, you’ll have to sacrifice some/a lot of your spare time, but on the plus side, you’ll have more financial security as well as the ability to learn some business acumen from your current workplace.
Tip #3: Protect yourself
Check if there is an overarching industry body that provides standard contracts and other helpful legal tidbits. For example, the Master Builders Association provides standard construction contracts for the industry.
Also, seek the advice of a lawyer who specialises in small business law to give you advice before you set up shop. You need to know what insurance to get and the relevant tax, licenses and registrations you’ll have to sign up for. The lawyer should also ensure you understand your legal obligations, from occupational health and safety to intellectual property and contract laws.
Tip #4: Connect with others
Stay connected within your industry and outside of it. If you can build a professional network that you can lean on that provides a mix of practical and moral support, your journey will be much smoother.
One excellent way to gather a support group is by hitting up social media. See if you can find any groups that provide insights into the business side of your industry, or some more general small business groups. You might also want to look at any business courses in your area. Not only will they boost your business knowledge and confidence, they’ll help you connect with local, like-minded people across a variety of sectors.
Don’t forget to listen to other small business owners’ experiences and learn from their mistakes. And try to keep notes – you’re in the midst of a big, but rewarding, learning curve and you don’t want any of the gems you stumble upon to escape.
Tip #5: Be tenacious and start talking the talk
If you’ve done the research and you know your idea is solid, keep the faith. Know you’re onto a good thing and do what you can to maintain momentum. Sure, there will be hurdles, just like there are hurdles in your 9-to-5 job. As we mentioned in Tip #4 – surrounding yourself with the right network can help keep you on track.
But being tenacious is not all about being resilient – it also means stepping out of your comfort zone. This includes getting your salesman hat on. Just have conviction in your product or service, nail your elevator pitch (a spiel that sums your service up in 30 seconds) and get out there.
Want help to start your small business?
Don’t fret if you’re feeling overwhelmed, there’s a wealth of help available. Phone 1300 232 663 to chat to us about your business idea and to see if you’re eligible for the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS). This government initiative will provide you with small business training and a mentor to guide you, ensuring your business plan (and business knowledge) is watertight.
It’s time to start putting the wheels in motion if you want to move your small business idea to the next stage!