New Year, New Business

handboxJanuary is always the time to set and often break New Year’s resolutions! We set ourselves new goals; promises to better ourselves from the year previously and often do something new. Here, our Women In Business Editor, Rupinder Kaur shares her top tips to starting a business in 2014:

Start With An Idea That Excites You But Also Has A Market
What’s your big idea? Does it consume you and make you feel excited? Does it give you butterflies in your stomach and are you constantly day dreaming and plotting? If yes GREAT! If not, think again… you need to be passionate about your business idea; it will take a lot of energy and effort to turn an idea into reality. You may need to sell the idea to others, investors or stakeholders and get their buy in – if you don’t believe it and feel excited by it they won’t either! However, there also needs to be a market for your product or services. Specifically, what need will it fill or problem will it solve for the consumer? A great idea that excites you but has no market is not a business, it’s a hobby and will be an expensive one at that!

Research Your Market
You need to thoroughly research your market. Know exactly who your ideal customer is and how you will get your message to them, who your competitors are and how you differ from them. Even in a saturated market there is potential IF you can stand out from the crowd and add more value than others. Use the internet to explore what others are doing, most of them will be on social media, follow both your competition and your ideal customer to get an idea of trends and expectations and use that information to adjust your offerings. Go and visit the premises if they are a bricks and mortar business, experience what it feels like to be a customer with them and then think about what you will do better!

Explore ALL Avenues Of Funding
It is highly likely you are going to need capital for your business. Consider what is the best source of finance for you – traditional routes such as friends and family, savings, loans are all still relevant. However, there is such a wide variety of sources available now, including government backed loans and grants, so do your research and think about your attitude to risk and finances. There are also more creative ways such as crowd funding where strangers contribute money to your idea usually online, one example of this is: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/. However, where possible boot strap, economise and focus on spending  money where a return will be seen.

Network
There will come a point where you will have done as much research as you can online and from behind your screen, and then guess what?  You need to get out there! There are two types of networking groups you want to target: one which will consist of your industry types so essentially your competitors and another where your potential consumers will be. Go and network with likeminded people to give your idea legs, to give you an opportunity to sound out what the business plan is and see what reaction you get from others.

Find A Mentor
Research strongly suggests that small start up businesses that are guided by a mentor are more likely to survive. A mentor is a guiding hand, someone you can bounce ideas off and who can point you in the right direction based on their experience. All successful entrepreneurs have mentors including Richard Branson who looked to Sir Freddie Laker.  Think about whether there is someone in your circle that can mentor you or go online and find a mentor http://www.mentorsme.co.uk/ or http://www.horsesmouth.co.uk/ are good sites.

Hope you found this useful!

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