Welcome to Smartplan’s entrepreneur weeks! Entrepreneurship is as popular as ever: last year, more than 500,000 new businesses were created in the UK alone, while TV programmes such as “Dragon’s Den” show how budding entrepreneurs try to convince investors to invest in their business ideas. Yet, far from every entrepreneur makes it on the often overcrowded markets. Therefore, we have chosen to focus on entrepreneurship on the blog during this and next week. This week, we concentrate on expert advice for entrepreneurs, while next week’s focus will be on our own experiences as entrepreneurs in Denmark. Enjoy!
You have the best idea in the world and feel that it should be carried out. There’s no end to your ecstasy when imagining yourself as a business owner. But before starting your own business, you should as a minimum ask yourself the following three questions:
If you have no problems answering these questions with a ‘yes’ and clear, rational arguments without hesitation, there’s a solid foundation for jumping right into it. If you’re in doubt, we recommend that you spend some time considering these questions and finding out how to realise your plans. You also need to consider how much personal effort you’re able to put into the project and how to do so: what risk will I take becoming an entrepreneur? How long will I manage financially with a low or no income? What happens if I get sick? Do I have enough money to establish my business? What does it take for me to get started? Am I ready for the heavy workload and big responsibility following a start-up? There are so many elements to consider and even if your idea is really good, you should test the water and perform a reality check before becoming self-employed.
In order for your idea and business to make it, it’s important that you stay focused on a number of factors:
Define some clear goals for your business and product and think about, what the motivation for these goals is. Keep focusing on your own and your business’ core output and competencies to ensure maximum utilisation and development of these.
Think about if you have found or can find a niche with your product, that you can use to achieve success. If the market contains too many providers, it can be difficult to reach your consumers.
Make sure to always listen to your business sense to make cost-consciousness an integrated part of your business.
Use your network to find customers, exchange ideas and lead professional discussions with others. Exchanging ideas and professional discussions can provide you with new and different ideas and ways of thinking, which might benefit your business.
Starting up your own business naturally also includes numerous practical and formal, obligatory aspects to consider. One of the first things to do is to create a business plan, which should contain information on budget, financing, organising, sales, marketing and potential for your product. Without a business plan, you and your stakeholders will find it difficult to visualise your idea and take it seriously.
Next, you need to decide which corporate form your business should have - whether to start it as a sole proprietorship, a partnership, joint-stock company or a limited liability company depends on you, your type of business and if you have one or more partners. Additionally, you need to take elements such as company name, facilities, website, investors, VAT registration, taxes, accounting, bookkeeping and patents into consideration before jumping into entrepreneurial life.
Although you’re aware of all the advantages of your product, it doesn’t mean that your stakeholders are - and it might even be necessary to convince them of these advantages. You should therefore from the beginning focus on selling your product, as it obviously won’t sell itself. Create a marketing plan, so that you’re always focused on what you want to accomplish with your product, how to market it to your customers and what it should cost. Set up goals for how many customers to gain within the first year and make sure to measure your sales- and marketing initiatives. Sales and marketing are just as important as developing and creating new products.
If you’re about to start your own business, then remember that this of course isn’t an exhaustive list of expert advice - on the contrary. Tune in next week, where the owners of Smartplan share their experiences with entrepreneurship.
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