5 things you need to know about starting a business

Start me up.

by KATE MATTHEWS

I came across this quote recently and it really struck a chord with me. Does it resonate with you too?

start to be great

Anyone contemplating a new business venture will appreciate that taking a ‘great idea’ to the next level can be very exciting but not without its challenges. I know too well; I’ve got more than one business plan on the table right now. It quickly becomes obvious having a bright idea is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to getting something off the ground and into the market place.

Here’s a quick guide to 5 things you need to know about starting a  business:

1. Coming up with start-up capital often be one of the biggest hurdles. Even micro businesses need a few dollars to invest in  purchasing materials,  stock and promotional media like a website, domain name, business cards, and the like. And if you intend to trade under a business name, you’ll need to register it (for a fee) with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC).  Of course if your idea is a little grander, then chances are you’ll need a substantial amount of money and borrowing and investing in a new business is not without risk.  

Financial choices can be limited and fraught with danger. If you don’t have any savings to draw on, you’ll need to apply for a loan or use a credit card. Before taking on any debt you’ll want to thoroughly work through your start-up costs and be realistic. Family and friends are another option as investors, but beware, disputes over money can cost more than the loan repayment so think hard before taking this route. Make sure you have a written agreement to repay the debt and the terms and conditions of the loan; take it seriously and stick to it.

2. Plan to succeed. That means putting together a business plan. Yes, even you. It can be as simple or detailed as you wish, but making a plan helps you to work out your ideas and should give you realistic expectations in terms of start-up costs. You are likely to need a thorough business plan if you want to apply for a business loan, and financial institutions will want some proof of security as well as a briefing on your previous experience relevant to your proposed business.

There are plenty of great resources for business plan preparation. In New South Wales, you can start with the NSW government site for Trade and Investment, www.smallbiz.nsw.gov.au

3. Be prepared for a lot of work before your great idea gets to market. Aside from all the hours spent planning your new venture, you’ll need to thoroughly research your intended market and your competition, as well as potential suppliers and the range of products and services currently on offer.

If your idea is based on your creative skills, once you’ve done your research you’ll need to start creating! Assuming you have enough capital to invest in materials and the tools of the trade, or you already have some on hand, now is the time to get productive – doing what you love! There’s a fine balance between having enough stock and having too much and only time will tell if you get it right.

And time is what you’ll need plenty of. Juggling a business around a family and possibly another job can be a challenge, but a very rewarding one if you get it right. Be prepared to compromise and negotiate. Not everyone will understand the level of commitment needed to get a business off the ground, especially those closest to you.

But if you develop good time management skills, learn to prioritise, and take time to spend with the people you love, hopefully you’ll find a great balance.

4. Insurance. Anyone wishing to trade a product or service, including market stall holders, will need some form of public liability cover. As with finance, there are many options. But just like capital, public liability insurance is an essential. While some market organisers provide an insurance option within the booking fee, many don’t. Try googling ‘market stall insurance’, or check out a quote from www.marketstallinsurance.com (please note this is not a paid endorsement and north coast markets is not affiliated with this broker in any way). Product liability insurance can be purchased at an additional cost.

5. Find a good business mentor, but don’t limit yourself to just one. A reputable accountant will help you navigate many of your financial and legal concerns. If you don’t already have an accountant, try to get a referral from someone you trust and when choosing one, look for an accountant who has previous experience in your line of business.

Your local chamber of commerce or business enterprise centre should also be able to point you in the right direction.

There are hundreds, if not thousands of online business mentors too. Find one or more that resonates with you. If you choose to follow a virtual mentor via social media, you’ll be rewarded with free tips and information, plus a lot of inspiration.

And your bonus point, number 6: Test your product or service at a local market. Being a stall holder, if only temporary, will give you the opportunity for direct feedback from your customers. It may be all the encouragement you need to develop your idea further and go into full production, or perhaps to refine your product or service to better meet the needs of your market. Here’s a link to the North Coast Market Directory, where you’ll find links to markets right across the region, of all descriptions.

Got any comments or ideas to add to the above post? I look forward to hearing from you.  You can follow North Coast Markets on facebook and stay up to date with what’s on when and where, from the Tweed to the Hastings.  You can also find NCM on twitter and/or subscribe to this blog.

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