Colbea is a fantastic local company who help start up businesses. The business advice session is completely free and would be a fantastic resource in creating my sole trader business.
Below are 7 points which the company suggest I address in order to fully understand how to make my business successful. All of these need to be considered in great depth once I have finished my degree, it is fantastic to know there are local resources I can go to rather than trailing through the internet and receiving misinformed information. Thankfully some of the work I have carried out in my degree will help assist me in answering these questions.
1. What products and services will your business provide?
What, precisely, are you selling? Whether you are selling a product or a service, your customers will want to know what they are getting, how much they are paying for it and how that product or service will meet their requirements.
You will also need to know exactly what the cost of delivering your product or service will be, this will allow you to work out what price you will need to charge in order to make sufficient profit.
2. Who do you think your main customers will be?
Although you may expect to trade with a wide variety of people, it is often the case that the majority of sales will come from a particular section of your customer base. Who is most likely to want the products or services you provide? Whether you are selling business to consumer or business to business, do your research to find out as much as you can about your potential customers.
3. Why would your customers buy from you, rather than from another supplier?
Whatever type of business run you will have competitors, so your customers will look for reasons why they would buy from you rather than someone else. Never assume that you customers’ buying decisions will be made purely on price; in most cases they will look at price but make their decision based on value.
Find out what your customers will want from you and what it is that will differentiate you from your competitors; is it convenience, speed of delivery, reliability, an enjoyable customer experience, quality or something else?
4. What will be the best way to market and promote your business?
It can be very easy to spend a lot of time and money on marketing and promotion so you want to be sure you are getting the best possible return for your investment. Researching your market and profiling your potential customers is essential so you focus your marketing campaigns on your targeted customers.
Whilst most new businesses will expect to have a website and use social media to promote their business, it is important to ensure the website is ‘fit for purpose’ and the most appropriate social media platforms are being used. For some businesses ‘traditional’ media – leaflets and local advertising – is still very effective. Joining networking groups also helps you get your business in front of potential customers.
5. How much money will you need to invest in your new business?
You will need to have sufficient funds to get your business started and to keep it going until it is making sufficient profit to sustain itself. Financial forecasts are really important and will help you work out:
How much will be needed for pre-start costs; these will include such things as the purchase of essential equipment, insurance premiums, website development, stock, materials and so on.
How much you will need (or will be able to) pay yourself in order to meet your personal expenses.
Where the money will come from; whether you will have sufficient funds of your own or will need to borrow money to get started.It is a sad fact that many good business ideas fail simply because they run out of money before the business has had a chance to establish itself and become self-sustainable.
6. Have you completed a business plan?
Completing a business plan helps you think you your ideas and make decisions based on objective research rather than assumptions. In fact, by completing a business plan you will start to get all the answers to the first five questions!
Working through a business plan will really help you clarify your ideas and find out what you need to do to assess the viability of your business before you start. You may also start to realise that you may not be able to do this all on your own, so that will bring you to Question 7 …
7. Where can I get help?
There are many sources of help available to assist you in planning your new business and you may want to join the many successful businesses who came to Colbea to get advice and guidance from a professional Business Advisor and attend one of our business start-up workshops designed to help you think through your ideas, answer many of your questions and make sense of business planning.