How to get started in business

Back in the 1970s, we could rely on business advice from CJ in The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, who gave us such words of entrepreneurial wisdom as "I didn't get where I am today without knowing a shrewd idea when I hear one", "I didn't get where I am today without spending lolly to earn even more lolly", and, perhaps rather less reliably, "I didn't get where I am today by taking a gift-horse to water, after the stable door was opened".

In this blog, we’ll look at some top tips for getting started in business:

Tip 1: Have a clear vision

Have a clear vision of what your business idea is and what you want to achieve. Write a business plan. Think about what money you have and what you need, what your income might be and what your business running costs are likely to be. Know your figures, and don’t be like the people who go on Dragon’s Den and ruin their pitch because they don’t know their numbers.

Tip 2:      Reach out for help  

Find out what you need to do to set up your own business and what help you can get. Surround yourself with a team of good advisers and mentors. Get support from an experienced business adviser if you can. Some business support services are available free of charge, so investigate what is available.

Tip 3:      Do your homework

Is there a demand for your product or service? Identify your customers and get feedback from them. Find out what your customers want, not what you want to sell them!

Also identify your competitors and analyse what they do well, what you could do better and how you can get customers to choose you instead.

Tip 4: Be a SWOT

How strong is your business idea? Is it strong enough to stand up to scrutiny? What are your opportunities and threats? A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis will help you strengthen your business case and focus your plans. There are lots of free templates you can use on the internet.

Tip 5: What’s your USP?

Know your unique selling point (USP) and have a great elevator pitch so you can quickly describe your business and what is special about it when asked.

Tip 6: Think about the small print

Get advice on legal issues to do with setting up your business, and having solid contract terms to protect your position and help ensure you get paid on time.

Tip 7: Keep on track

Your business plan is also a tool for you, so you should review and update it regularly so you can monitor your performance to make sure you are on track to meet your goals and deadlines.

Tip 8: The customer is king

Value your customers because without them you will have no business. Thank your customers and show appreciation for their loyalty. Concentrate on excellent customer service, and get feedback to make sure you keep improving your business.

Starting a small business? Need to get all your stationery together? We’ve put together a Business Starter Pack, so click here to find out more or to order.

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