Taking ownership is empowering. We get the sense of it in all levels of our careers. You've worked your way to the top or the position you've always wanted, and now you want more. You want to start your own business. Or you've been stuck in the job hunt trenches for a long time and you want to take matters into your own hands.
If you're second guessing yourself on whether you can do it as women are still a minority in entrepreneurship (only 34% as of 2018 with 17.1% who are CEOs), here's a reminder: the number is growing.
Where to Start?
Knowing your dreams and goals is the first step. "Your ultimate success in running a small business will come from having a clear vision," says columnist, keynote speaker and author Kerry Hannon.
As someone who wants to start up a business, you already have your dreams in mind. Outline what you see or want to see. Who is your business for? What are you selling? Where are you setting up? What are your strengths and weaknesses? These could be your skills and experiences. You would need management skills, interpersonal skills, marketing skills, financial skills, and of course, knowledge and experience in the industry you have your sights on.
You should also ask yourself: Where do I see myself and my creation in five years? Keep it realistic and also keep in mind, your financial situation. Work with it.
It's important to know you have the passion, time and energy for this. You have to be prepared to take on a heavy workload.
Next up: The Research
Research your market and your competitors. Evaluate them. Is there a place for your business? We live in a very fast-paced and competitive culture. We also absorb and skim through countless things daily especially on the internet. It's important to acknowledge this and think about how you will stand out. How are you going to make it so?
Don't hesitate to ask around. Search for people, in particular, women who started their companies and became successful. You can arrange an informational interview to discover more about setting up a business, what experiences it would entail, and whether your plan is really what you want. An interview is also great way to build connections.
If you're lacking a skill or experience essential to starting your business, you can enroll in courses. Additionally, you can get in touch with experts such as financial advisors if you're inexperienced in finance and need help.
Next up: The Business Plan
Now you have to plan out how you're going to turn your dream into a reality. Draft that business plan up. Why do you need it?
● To help you prioritise, manage the business and keep track of your goals. Make your business as foolproof as possible.
● To convince investors or banks to take your business seriously
According to a study, those who have a plan are more likely to succeed than those who don't.
What to include?
● Cover page: with your contact details.
● Executive summary: A crucial part for investors as it gives an overview of the plan and it needs to be impressive, so polish this up as best as you can. For this section, you need to build a case for your business. You write what it is, what makes it stand out and why is it needed. Remember to keep it brief. Summarise the rest of your plan.
● Company overview: A profile of your company with details on the products or services, location, the mission statement, the team (if applicable) and future plans.
● Industry, customer and competitor analysis: Include the research you've done on your industry, target audience and your competitors with statistics.
● Marketing plan: Describe your products or services and how they fit in the market. Mention how you will attract your audience and what methods will you use.
● Operations plan: Describe the strategies that will help you achieve goals on a daily basis.
● Financial plan: Explain how your business will make revenues and mention your financial projections.
Keep the plan simple and revise until it's perfect with no errors.
Next up: Make Your Mark
You have your plan and everything right down to the business name. Now, you register your business and make it legal and official. You can go to business.gov.au which will help you accomplish the task. Additionally, insure your business in case issues such as property damage or lawsuits happen, and it will also cover your employees.
The next step would be to organise your finances and apply for a loan if necessary. Think of it as a presentation so practice delivering your case. Bring your business plan. Applying for loans aren't always successful, but don't let that bring you down. If this happens, learn from it to make improvements and apply again.
Finance experts Maxironcapital.com.au say, "having a business plan is one of the most critical factors in determining whether you are successful in getting a loan. Most business Lenders will request to see a clear vision, realistic projections and insights into your target market. Focus on delivering an inspiring executive summary, if a financier is not impressed often they will not read on".
It's also a good idea to create a website and social media accounts so your business can be seen.
Next up: Team, assemble!
The next step would be hiring your team. Choose carefully. "It's all about having the right team," says Christian Lanng, CEO and chairman of Tradeshift.
You need people who know their stuff and are passionate about helping to grow a startup business, and whom you could trust. Check if they have a great track record and if they're suppliers, check their existing clients. Consider how will they help you achieve your goals.
"Don't hesitate to reach out to already established companies to add growth," says Ghostwriter. You can collaborate with them to get your business name out there.
Failure is good
You've probably heard that failure is a good thing and tired of it, but it's true. Your business might not be following the script that is your plan, but you can learn from it. Assess the issues, use feedback (if any) and revise. It would help improve and strengthen your business.
Feeling confident and ready to start your business?