You have had a great idea burning in your mind for a long time now and you finally want to do something about it. Congratulations! You already think like an entrepreneur.
But despite the glitz surrounding entrepreneurs from Richard Branson to Mark Zuckerberg to Kylie Jenner, the start-up life is not as glamorous as the headlines would have you believe.
The reality is financial risk, lowered earnings (at least until you make it) and many hard yards of work lie ahead.
Before you embark on starting your own business, consider these important steps:
Validate your idea
Market research is the best way to tell you whether or not your idea can be turned into a successful business in the early days. Study the market, research your idea starting with friends and family before testing the idea with the public, see what the competitive landscape looks like and if anyone else has gotten there before you. Depending on the product or service you plan to offer perhaps create a Minimal Viable Product (MVP) to show potential customers, investors or financial backers the worthiness of your idea.
Write a compelling business plan
Strategy is about determining a destination and how best to get to there. Your business plan should cover objectives, sales, strategies, marketing and financial forecasts over a short- to long-term period. A business plan can help you hone your business idea, set goals and track progress. A business plan should be time-specific and investors, lenders and State bodies will want to see convincing details in your plan.
Contact your Local Enterprise Office
Ireland’s network of Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) are a valuable and useful resource to set you in the direction of starting-up. LEOs offer a range of financial and business supports as well as a range of training and events to equip you with the knowledge and skills you might need. To find your Local Enterprise Office, click here.
Register your business
Once you’ve picked the perfect business name, it would be a good idea to go to the Companies Registration Office to make it official. Another good port of call would be to register your business’s domain name through bodies like the IE Domain Registry or the myriad of hosting providers that exist.
Open a business bank account
It is very important from day one to separate your personal finances from your business finances. Many business owners fail to make this distinction, but it is worth getting this right from the start. Open a business bank account when you’re ready to start accepting or spending money as your business. Not only does this help you to stay legally compliant and protected, it also benefits customers and future employees in the long run. To learn more click here
Fund your business
Your business plan should serve as an indicator of the kind of investment you will need to start your business. If you don’t have that much money on hand, you’ll either need to raise or borrow the capital. You could start with a small business loan to get the wheels turning.
Borrowing from a bank is a form of debt finance. There are several different types of finance, and which type you use will depend on whether the finance is for a short-term or a long-term use. The “golden rule” is to match the type of finance (short-term or long-term) to the intended business need (short-term or long-term). To learn more click here
Other forms of funding that exist include equity (venture capital), angel investment and crowdfunding where you can use online platforms to get the public to pledge support your idea in return for a sample or first dibs. To learn more click here
The LEOs also provide grants such as feasibility study grants, priming grants and innovation grants.
Enterprise Ireland has a High Potential Start-up (HPSU) Programme as well as various funds in areas from agriculture and food to technology and manufacturing.
Two government-led initiatives designed to assist entrepreneurs are available online: SURE is a tax refund calculator for potential entrepreneurs and the Supporting SMEs Online Guide is an interactive guide that lists cross-government supports for businesses.
Pick a good place to start
Your business location as a start-up can vary. Many a good, thriving Irish business was established at the kitchen table, in bedroom-turned-office or the garage. But also, because starting a business can also be a lonely pursuit at first, it makes sense to be surrounded by like-minded people.
Thankfully Ireland is chock-full of co-working hubs where you can either rent a desk and form part of a community, or be mentored in accelerators to the point where your business is making sales.
Whether you are a bricks-and-mortar business or launching an online store, bear in mind the cost of where you will locate and again, keep referring to the business plan.
Develop a dream team
No person is an island. Whether you start the business on your own or as a co-founder, people and chemistry are crucial. You need to start by identifying the kind of culture you want to create – to be the kind of force you would like to see in the world – again, this can be also a part of your business plan. Whether you have co-founders or you are taking on your first employees, having people to bounce ideas off is crucial and remember, these people can often be closer to customers and day-to-day operations than you are. Culture is key.
Find a business mentor
No one who starts a business can be expected to have all the answers and accessing experienced individuals who will help you “sanity check” your ideas or instincts is very important. A mentor is someone who can offer experienced insight, a fresh point of view, dedicated expertise and support.
Are you still reading? Good. If you take on many of these steps and take them seriously you have already taken the first step to starting your own business.
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