Tag Archives: Business

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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Ask questions, get answers…

Ask questions, get answers…

Wouldn’t it be great if you could network with other stall holders and small businesses?

A place to grab a (virtual) coffee at any time of day or night and have a chat about things that are important to you? Somewhere to ask questions and get answers?

North Coast Markets is preparing to launch the Australian stall holder and small business network and if you’re a small business or stall holder anywhere in Australia you’re invited to join in the conversation.

We’ll start with a platform we’re all familiar with: Facebook groups.

The Australian stall holder and small business network will be a closed group, which means your posts remain private to those that are within the group, and individuals can only join the group by invitation. It also means that your personal info remains protected, that is, when non-friends are in the same group as you, this does not allow them to see any more of your profile (timeline) information than your privacy settings allow.

There’s no membership fees, and you can opt out any time you like.

To take part in this exciting new forum, contact me and let’s start talking.

10 top tips to turn your great idea into cash

So you have a great idea… what next?

A GREAT IDEA is only the first step towards a successful market based business. There are many things you will need to consider before you can turn that great idea into a profitable enterprise. Markets are a highly competitive situation with many people, just like you, hoping to attract the attention – and business – of the passing crowd.  How can you maximise your chances of success? How will you make a profit? Below are 10 top tips to turn your great idea into cash.

1. DO YOUR RESEARCH

A little bit of research goes a long way.  Once you decide how far you are willing to travel, you’ll need to decide which markets you plan on targeting. Check out our directory. Then visit each market in situ to see what competition there is. Try and be objective and evaluate your competition in ALL it’s forms. How will you stand out? What will your unique point of difference be? Don’t forget to talk to the market organisers and see if there’s a waiting list, how to register, what their requirements are, as well as what costs may be involved.

2. TAKE TIME AND BE PREPARED

Nothing beats being well-organised. Assuming you are offering a product, or a range of products, you will need to consider how to store, transport and display them effectively. This is vitally important for many reasons. Of course you want to appear professional and trustworthy, but you will also want to make sure your products aren’t damaged before they are on display.

Have you considered what equipment and infrastructure you will need for your market stall? Depending on what you are offering for sale, you may need tables, stands,  clothing racks, or other types of displays. Every choice you make will leave an impression on the passing crowd. So choose wisely. Your stall is your shopfront, and a professional appearance will help you stand out from your competitors.

Don’t forget to protect yourself and your investment from the weather. Many market stall holders opt for a tent/gazebo, and if you plan on attending markets regularly, this is one item you shouldn’t be without. Not all are quality made, however, so it may be worthwhile to take note of what other stall holders are using. And don’t forget your tent will need to be secured and weighted. Shop around for a good deal, but don’t forget the old saying: ‘you get what you pay for’.

gazebo

A good quality tent or gazebo is essential to protect yourself and your investment from the weather

Protect yourself from litigation. Public liability insurance is essential for market stallholders. While some market organisers offer PLI for an additional fee, many will require you have your own. Avoid disappointment and be prepared. A great place to start is with your current insurance provider.

And finally, know your product. Be prepared for all sorts of questions. You’ll be negotiating with the general public, so anything can happen.

3. SIGNS, BANNERS & BUSINESS CARDS

Not every marketeer will benefit from point of sale promotional material, but  it never hurts to clearly identify who you are. Of course, if you plan on trading outside of market hours, or you have a website, making sure you’re potential customers can find you again could be vitally important. However, not all signs are created equal. If you are capable, you can design your own and have them printed either locally or via an online company like Vistaprint. Either way, you’ll want your signs and cards to reflect your brand and appear professional.

4. DISPLAY THE PRICE

People dislike having to ask for a price. You can use tags or stickers (as long as they are easy to remove). Don’t let that potential sale get away because they didn’t feel comfortable to ask for the price.

5. IS THE PRICE RIGHT?

There’s a lot to consider when deciding on a reasonable price for your item/s. If your items are handmade or unique, you will have to consider the costs and time involved in preparing them for sale, as well as a profit margin that will make it all worthwhile. However, most people are looking for a bargain, so there’s a fine line. If you are reselling an item, you should be aware what it might retail for online or in store, and be able to offer it at a competitive rate/discount. Again, you need to make a profit. There’s little point in going to all the effort unless you come home with some money in your pockets.

Also be prepared for haggling. Don’t accept the first price offered… negotiating is a skill and it does get easier with practice.

6. THE EARLY BIRD GETS THE BEST SPOT

Arrive early if you want your pick of the casual spots

First in, best dressed as they say. Regular stall holders will generally have a reserved position, with the rest being open to casuals. It sounds obvious, but if you are hoping for a prime location, you’ll need to arrive early.

7. HAVE A FLOAT

The size of your float (cash for change) all depends on what the value of the items you are selling. You’ll learn from experience, but a good rule of thumb is $100. Make sure you have a mix of notes and coins, and keep it secure, preferably on your person.

8.BE PATIENT AND POLITE

Greet your potential customers with a smile and let them know you are available to help, but don’t be pushy. Answers any questions politely. There’s no harm in trying to close a sale, but make sure you always act with integrity and ethics.

9. WINDING DOWN

As the markets begin to wind down for the day, you may wish to offer additional discounts, eg. buy a second item for 1/2 price. If you are offering perishable items, this will be particularly important.

10. GET TO KNOW THY NEIGHBOURS

Take a minute to introduce yourself to other stall holders. Most are friendly and happy to chat if they have the time and opportunity. You are likely to pick up some invaluable information and tips, and networking can be priceless.

Get to know your neighbours. Vanessa Brown (left) from It's Jam Packed.

BONUS TIP: GROW YOUR BUSINESS ONLINE

If you haven’t already done so, create a business page for yourself on facebook. It’s ridiculously easy and absolutely free. You may also like to consider a website or a blog. Whatever your online presence, you’ll need to actively maintain and promote it or you’ll be lost at sea.

For a limited time, we are giving small businesses and market stall holders like yourself the opportunity to register to be a featured stall holder. We’ll be featuring a stall holder each week on our blog, as well as on our rapidly growing facebook page. There are no costs involved, so register now and enjoy the benefits.

Got any comments? Any ideas to add? We’d love to hear from you.