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How to get your business ready for action
by Startacus Admin
How to get your business ready for action!
As you march off into the unchartered territory of self-employment no one would blame you for being a tad overwhelmed by the whole thing. Uncertain times lie ahead, and your mind is no doubt filled with all the things that could potentially go wrong.
Whilst a certain amount of caution can be a useful thing in the world of business, too much can have a negative effect on your enterprising efforts.
To help you avoid a misadventure, here are some key tips that will get you and your business ready for action.
Put together a solid business plan
Contrary to what many believe, a business plan is not just for when you need investment, it is an essential everyday tool in your entrepreneurial box.
From a purely practical perspective, the process of carefully piecing together a comprehensive business plan is an invaluable experience, helping you to more fully understand the business model, and dig deep into the issues, challenges, and pitfalls you might face.
Remember that a good business plan needs to contain at the very least the following sections.
The days when all you needed to take a customer's money was an out-stretched hand are long gone. Payments come in all shapes and sizes, from mobile phones to in-app purchases, and from such a wide range of locations both in-person and online, that all businesses need to make accommodations.
This area of technology is one that many entrepreneurs find a bit daunting; a great shame since these innovations have the potential to increase sales as well as improve the speed and security of payments. They do this by giving customers many different ways to pay e.g. cards, mobile devices etc and this convenience encourages spend amongst a population which is becoming ever more accustomed to multiple and diverse payment options. Businesses can also take advantage of the global nature of modern business by accepting payments from pretty much anywhere in the world, whether in person or online, vastly increasing the opportunity for sales when ‘on the go’.
Advanced security features embedded in some such payment solutions are also a major benefit to both merchants and customers, who can sell and buy with confidence that their information is protected from fraudsters or would-be cyber criminals.
Mastercard has got a new service called Simplify Commerce which is a nice demonstration of these technologies. It’s a cloud-based payment platform that places versatility and security at the centre of proceedings, allowing you to integrate the technology into your own website and e-commerce solutions, ensuring that your business is as accessible and secure as possible.
Establish your Digital Presence
No matter what industry your business will operate in, there are benefits to be had from giving it a solid and immediate presence online.
This presence can be divided into 2 distinct categories; websites and social media.
Having these in place at the beginning of your business’ life can deliver enviable advantages, especially in the early days when spreading the word about your new enterprise is imperative.
A website will:
Help you to increase visibility
Give you a digital space for selling products and services
Lend you an added layer of respectability (especially important for new businesses)
Provide an opportunity to outline information on products and services to prospective customers
Gives your business round-the-clock availability
When it comes to social media, Twitter and Facebook are the obvious choices due to their broad reach, but don't neglect some of the other more ‘niche’ networks including LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram.
Social media profiles will:
Give you instant access to a broad range of potential customers
Educate you further about the industry, including your competitors and potential customers
Allow you to join-in on industry specific dialogues, placing yourself as a voice of authority and expertise
Give you the opportunity to solicit feedback and opinion about your business
If you are planning to have an extensive presence on social media, we suggest that you use a social media management platform to make posting content and engaging with your network a good deal easier. At Startacus HQ we are fond of Hootsuite, but there are lots more available including SproutSocial, Buffer, and TweetDeck.
Know Your Limitations / Manage Expectations
Perhaps the most common mistake that many newly self-employed people make is trying to be all things to all people…a recipe for disaster! A far better approach is to become a specialist within a few particular areas, and then use the experience you have gained to grow and develop your offering over time.
Although it might sound like a dull way of going about things, the old adage ‘slow and steady wins the race’ certainly holds true in the life of most businesses.
This advice should also be kept in mind when it comes to maintaining a good work-life balance. Being self-employed can prove a lot more tricky than expected, with many feeling as though they need to be working every waking hour in order to fulfil their duty to themselves and their business.
This is where knowing your limitations comes in particularly useful, as it helps you to moderate your workload and ensure that you reap the benefits of self-employment and not just the hardships!
Wrap your head around the finances
Whilst enjoying your work and being satisfied with what you do every day is important, you cannot allow the romanticism of running your own business to obscure the view of an equally essential factor…the money!
At the end of the day money is the lifeblood of your business and without it, nothing can happen. That’s why it’s so crucial to get a firm handle on your business finances as soon as possible, to ensure that you are as in control as is humanly possible.
In particular, some pointers are:
Be thorough when calculating costs and always over-estimate to protect yourself against overspend
Identify how you will bring about a positive cash flow and what contingencies you can fall back on should this fail to materialise
Approach your local government to find out if there are any support packages available to new businesses. (Remember that these might cover things other than money as well)
Get a business bank account which is flexible and well suited to your needs as a business
Create a calendar detailing any deadlines you need to meet for important things like tax, insurance, bills, and so forth.
Many entrepreneurs need some extra support in getting to grips with the financial aspects of running a business, here are some resources that might come in useful:
Mi-IDEA Manchester Networking Event
27th Sep 2016
The teams from CISCO and Manchester Science Partnerships have teamed up to create Mi-IDEA, a post-accelerator designed to foster and nurture digital innovation in the North West of England.