As career consultants, we often see clients who’d like to work for themselves. Starting a business can be exciting, but it can also be daunting and confusing. There are so many things to consider and a variety of ways to go about it. Have you thought about the different options? You could start an online or physical business, buy an existing business or franchise, freelance, consult, or contract.
If you’re ready to escape the 9 to 5 grind (and beyond) and map your own future with a business of your own, you might be wondering where to start. The truth is, working for yourself is not for everyone. To ensure success, there is a lot of up front preparation involved before you take the leap. Here’s some things you should consider when starting your own business:
- Decide on your why: Starting a business usually involves hard work, long hours, and significantly raised stress levels. Often the freedom and flexibility you desire just isn’t possible in the start-up business phase – particularly if you have added financial pressures where you’re having to work in another job while making the transition. By working out why you’re doing this and what you need to do to make your business work, you’ll be more prepared for the effort involved in making it work.
- Decide on the structure: Viable business structures vary from state to state and country to country, and obviously there are tax and other legal implications for different approaches. We advise talking to an expert to find out what’s best for you. Regardless of your structure, you will probably need a registered business name, a dedicated bank account or credit card, and a website and/or some kind of online presence. Comprehensive professional legal advice is usually essential for any professional business.
- Do your research: Research your competitors, costs involved, target market, customer needs, your offer, and how you’ll get that offer to market. Businesses need an intimate understanding of their customer needs and pain points, together with an understanding of what’s already available in the market in order to ensure their offer is aimed directly at those requirements.
- Establish your finance: Good financial management is critical to ongoing business success. When just starting out, you’ll need to work out how much funding you need initially, and ongoing, where you can get it, and how you will manage it. There are many different sources to consider which could include: personal savings, a loan from a family member or friend, a loan from a bank or other financial institution, financial lease, venture capital investment, and government grant/funding. Don’t forget to factor in all your living expenses and a little ‘fat’ for the inevitable lean times that most small start-ups experience.
- Understand your obligations: Again this could involve hiring an expert, or at the very least conducting some fairly in-depth research of your own. Before starting a business there are a raft of obligations you need to understand covering areas such as business registrations, registration of your domain name, intellectual property and/or trademark protection, necessary licences or permits depending on your industry, accounting and taxation obligations, legal requirements, considerations of corporate governance, insurance, and any employee contractual or other considerations.
- Network: Whether you’re starting a business from scratch, buying a business or franchise, working as a sole trader, operating a retail store, providing services online or something in between, networking is essential to ensure your long-term success. By developing strong business networks, you will be able to keep up to date on industry and local information, promote your business through new contacts, and learn key skills from other businesses. Research relevant physical events, identify potential referrers or partners, and leverage online networking (LinkedIn in particular). Connecting with like-minded business people to learn from them is also important, and you could even consider seeking out an appropriate mentor to guide you through the initial business set up stages.
Starting a business can be stressful, but it’s also an exciting time that can also be lots of fun. Conducting comprehensive research before starting out, and being super prepared for all the curve balls that will inevitably come your way, is one of the best predictors of success.
Are you unsure if you have what it takes to start your own business? Are you interested in obtaining some career advice? If you would like some direction in deciding whether this is the right future for you, please see our Career Coaching Services.