As many of us embark on our new year’s resolutions to eat less and get fit, a good 20 per cent of us will be making plans to start a business.
According to Companies House, 2019 was a record year for UK company registrations. An incredible 678,288 new businesses were registered. This is part of an ongoing surge which has seen more people start a business year-on-year since 2012.
Why? Because starting a business has never been easier. Around one in five working age people say that they want to start a business, and there’s a growing trend for keeping hold of a day job while starting a “side hustle”.
Clearly, forging your own path is becoming more popular, but it can feel like a daunting process. Here’s my advice for how to start a business in 2020.
Think of an idea and test it
I always tell people to ask themselves three questions. Is there a gap in the market? What is your passion, hobby, or skill? And is there something out there that you could do better?
Once you’ve come up with an idea, test it. This doesn’t have to be expensive. If it’s a food product, set up trials with friends and family and ask for feedback on taste and price. If it’s a service, do an online survey to ask what people think is a fair price, and what they’d expect in return.
Create a business plan
What goes into a business plan? A good way to look at this is I’M OFF: idea, market, operations, financials, and friends (which includes advisers and those who can help you along the way). You can download a free business plan template from the internet.
Bootstrap your business
One of the most important lessons in business and in achieving profitability is learning how to use resources efficiently. As such, use free digital tools such as Dropbox and Google Docs, and time management apps like Toggl.
Accounting software such as Xero is essential so that you’re ready to invoice and keep good records. Also, use video calls where you can to save on meeting room space and phone bills.
If you do need finance, look for investment that comes with advice, like a startup loan. Look out for classes where you can pick up skills.
Meanwhile, grab your URL and build a website. There are many easy-build website packages you can get — or go to the Enterprise Nation marketplace to find peer-rated experts and advisers.
Get out there and sell
Start with social media — it’s free and can quickly get you noticed. LinkedIn is essential for a B2B venture, and Instagram if you’re in fashion or food. A Twitter and Facebook page is often a must. Be sure to invest in good images.
Focus on what you do best, and outsource the rest
Once you start to see sales, you need to think about growing your capacity.
Outsource jobs to contractors, freelancers, or copywriters. PR and marketing work well when outsourced.
Hopefully, as the business grows, you’ll be able to give up the job and hire your own winning team.
So here’s to the year ahead, and becoming your own boss.
Emma Jones is the author of The StartUp Kit. She will be hosting StartUp 2020 tomorrow on 18 January. Click here for details.
Main image credit: Getty