The thing about parent bloggers is that the Mums and Dads in our community are a creative bunch. And we know that hundreds of you are hoping to build a better quality of life, and more satisfying career – by starting your own business.
Whether you’re launching into a career as an author or freelance writer, or whether you’re starting to sell a product you’ve designed and made yourself, the importance of good advice can’t be over-stated.
So the Tots100 is thrilled to be teaming up with Sage One, one of the world’s leading providers of accounting software for small business, to put together some guides for parent bloggers launching their own businesses.
Over the coming months, we’ll be sharing top tips and advice for you, whatever stage of business you’re at – and we’ll be holding online Q&As with experts from Sage who can answer your questions on business, accounting, and turning your idea into a profitable enterprise.
First up, we have some brilliant advice in this guest post from Nick Good, head of Sage One, on how to launch your business.
Starting up, and starting again…
Every year, half a million people set out to start a business of their own. But with the economy as it is, it’s unsurprising that of these, up to a third are believed to fail in their first year.
I believe that the key to successful business isn’t in experience, ambition or man hours. Absolutely, these are all factors in success. But success at the beginning? Much simpler. Follow the right steps, get the right support and your new venture could be off to a great start.
That said, it’s important that you don’t rush into starting up on your own without realising the full implications. Yes, working for yourself can offer a greater deal of flexibility, but there are other considerations to take and challenges to face. These are some of them…
- Choose your business carefully! Do you want full-time, part-time, spare-time or seasonal? Online or offline?
- Whatever your venture, be honest and realistic. Are you fulfilling a gap in the market? Is your great idea REALLY a great idea? Have you talked to your potential customers? Are you aware of your potential competitors? What is your brand identify / promise? Is your desired website URL available?
- Be committed. Work out your start up costs, and then minimise them. Don’t buy what you don’t need. Wait for the profits to start rolling in, and then you can start being a bit less frugal – but in the beginning, unless it’s essential, don’t spend.
- Create a strong business plan. If you need support or guidance on this there are lots of places / people you can turn to. Having a strong business plan enables you to identify your USPs, achieve focus, a clear proposition and route to market – and is what will help you in securing funding from financial institutions and investors. If your plan is to have any credibility, your figures must add up, while your executive summary must be engaging.
- Visit the Gov.UK website to read more information about business plans. You can also download a business plan template.
- Find out about Sage Planning for Business. It makes light work of everything from developing a business plan to forecasting your cash flow and VAT.
- Market yourself. Once you’re set to go, make sure that people know about you. Marketing doesn’t need to cost the earth. Or anything. Utilise social media (eg Facebook and Twitter and Linked in) to generate interest, debate and customer feedback. Ensure that your website is easy to navigate and is optimised for search engines. If you have a great story, try to gain free publicity via your local or trade press.
- Get your finances straight. Right from the off. Register your business with HMRC or your company with Companies House; open a business bank account; and set up your financial record-keeping system. By law, this is a necessity. You might need to find premises and employ people, too. You must try to make sales from the start. There’s lots of support and advice available on how to run a tight ship – make sure that you are getting the guidance you need.
Coming up with an idea and developing it into a successful business can be challenging and demanding, but also hugely exciting and rewarding. You might even uncover skills you didn’t know you had.
There are many websites that offer free advice, such as Gov.UK, Start Up Donut, Smarta and Startups.co.uk. Your local enterprise agency or bank might also be able to provide information. Also get tips from others who have successfully started their own business — often the best way to learn about starting up is from those who’ve done it.
Nick Goode, head of Sage One will be online and ready to answer your business start up questions in the coming weeks, in conjunction with Tots 100!