Will 2020 be the year you finally launch your small business? If this is something you’ve been dreaming about doing for a long time, don’t delay: there is no time like the present.
Whether an ecommerce store, online enterprise, or a traditional bricks-and-mortar small business, the fundamental steps of establishing the business are essentially the same. In this article, we will cover the essential steps and processes for setting up and launching your small business in 2020.
Make a Business Plan
First thing’s first. Before you can take any action, you need to have a solid plan. Around 60% of new UK businesses go bust within the first three years, and one of the most common reasons for this failure is a lack of a comprehensive business plan. The plan is essential for being able to define your goals as well as outline the steps to get there. Additionally, a business plan can be shown to investors and partners to help you to get funding or other forms of support.
There are different types of business plans, and the plan you need will depend on your business. However, in general, a business plan should include:
- A mission statement
- Market analysis and competitive analysis
- Organisational structure
- Marketing strategy
Set Your Budget
The last item on that list – your budget – is especially critical. It is simply impossible to develop a successful business without have a solid budget projection and a system to manage cash flow. The initial start up capital you need will vary greatly depending on the kind of business. Some businesses need a large investment to start, while others can get going with practically nothing.
In either case, this is the first thing you need to know: how much start-up investment will be required and where this is coming from. This may be your own savings, or it could be an external investment. If you are seeking external investment you should set how and when you will repay the investment right from the start. Also make sure that you have a budget projection of incomings and outgoings, as well as systems in place to track these. This will let you see if you are staying on track, as well as for reporting purposes.
Develop Your Product
Once you have these critical plans in place you can start developing your product. The key to any business is whatever you are selling, whether this is a physical product or something more abstract like a service.
Whether hair accessories or consultancy services, you must know your product inside and out. Define why it is valuable, who will want to buy it, and how you are going to market it to them. Product research and development is one of the most important preparations for your business, and can literally make or break your business. Supply is also critical: at this stage, you must source reliable suppliers for your products.
Set Up Payment Systems
Of course, one of the most critical processes for any business are those that allow you to get paid. The simplest payment system is cash and this is a great way to get started. However, we are living in a card-driven world and the vast majority of consumers prefer to pay by credit or debit card. Therefore establishing credit card payment systems as soon as possible is imperative to being able to maximise sales, profits and revenues.
Countertop or wireless card machines are easy to set up and ideal for bricks-and-mortar businesses. Portable payments, on the other hand, can be taken using a portable card reader which is great for businesses and contractors that travel around. For businesses that are partly or fully online-based, you should set up an online payment portal, and perhaps also look at taking email payments.
Accounts and Legalities
There are also certain legal requirements you need to cover before you can finally launch your small business. Firstly, you will need to register your business, which of course means settling on a business name. Don’t rush the process of choosing your company name as this is critical to having a successful business. The name should represent your brand while appealing to your audience. You’ll also need to register your domain name, so be sure to check that your idea for a business name is not trade marked and that the domain is available.
Depending on the country where you are registering your business, you may also need to apply for a range of business licences and permits. If you are not sure of the exact requirements it is a good idea to consult with a lawyer, an accountant, or both. Finally, you will need to open a bank account for your business. A dedicated business account is not only essential for proper accounting, it is often a legal requirement for small businesses.