Tips and Advice
How to start a business – 6 questions you need to ask yourself
With the UK ranked as one of the most welcoming places in the world to start a business, it’s tempting to run with your idea and get cracking. However, before you open up shop or apply to be on The Apprentice, you need to ask yourself 6 key questions to set yourself up for success.
Why are you starting your business?
Do you have a real passion for something that has the potential to make money, or is this just a vanity project? Jewellery designer Chloe Menage became inspired when she worked in a beading shop, which led to her starting a jewellery company making and running workshops. She admits it can be hard to juggle her full-time role with her jewellery company, so be prepared to make sacrifices – you need a good reason to start a business when it will become such a big part of your life.
Who do you look up to?
It’s always great to get advice and mentoring from someone who has been there and done it, according to Spartacus co-founder Alastair Cameron. If there are particular business leaders in the public eye you admire, follow them on LinkedIn for blog posts and updates. If there are certain brands or styles you’re a fan of, attend events they arrange. Oliver Bonas is commonly cited as an inspirational home and clothing brand, and they frequently host evening workshops.
Where does your customer hang out?
Every industry has opinion makers, trend setters and influencers. Therefore, following and engaging with these leaders who are of relevance to your business idea will be beneficial. If your idea is because of something you’ve experienced, for example if you’re a bride who has decided to launch a wedding stationery business, think about where you went for inspiration. You need to know your potential customer base inside out, so find out what they read, what brands they like and who and what they follow on social media. Then fine-tune this information – what social media platforms do they prefer using? Keep an eye on potential rivals as well, and note what you do and don’t like about them.
What is your USP?
You need a unique selling point to make your business stand out and seem special, according to Marketing Donut. Without a USP, marketing your business is going to be nigh on impossible. The best way to figure out your USP is to write a list of key bullet points about yourself, almost like a bio. For example, if you’re the only French patisserie in the Welsh valleys, this will a big differentiator from other patisserie shops.
What is your transaction?
A great idea doesn’t always translate into a profit margin. Alastair Cameron recommends working out your transaction, in other words, where you are going to make your money. Matt Dowling of The Freelancer Club reckons you’ll probably end up offering more than one service, so being able to advertise this early on will give you more transactions and therefore more earning potential. For example, photographers sometimes double up as graphic designers and makeup artists who work in fashion and theatre often flit between private clients during weekdays.
What is your brand?
Wedding photographer Jennifer Sinclair says her style of photography and brand has developed alongside her photographic skills. And just like her personality, her product (photography) is very relaxed and natural. This is reflected in her website, so remember you are the embodiment of your brand. The same goes for illustrator Ben Tallon – he has a strong sense of design so when companies commission him, they know exactly what they are buying into.
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