If you are considering starting your own business but struggling to get your idea off the ground you are certainly not alone. Even the most motivated entrepreneurs find the early days a challenge and it’s no secret that more than half of new companies fail within the first 18 months. So whether it’s a lifelong ambition or a recent lightbulb moment, deciding to go it alone takes guts, determination and an immense amount of planning.
A recent government commissioned report said the UK economy could be given a £250bn boost if women entrepreneurs were given the opportunity to develop new businesses on the same scale as men. The report stated that women business owners are in the minority and estimated there are 1.1 million “missing” female-run firms. While women are significantly under-represented in the current statistics, it would be fascinating if we could measure how many females are considering turning to entrepreneurship.
The figure would undoubtedly be high due to the numerous benefits for women who do step on to the self-employed career path. The burning question is, how do you get started? There is a pool of untapped female potential out there and with the right support and guidance their business ideas could take them to the top of their game. If you are interested in setting up on your own but are not sure what type of business you want to start or how you go about it, we have put together our 8 top tips to help you reach a measured decision.
Confidence, confidence, confidence
A fundamental characteristic of all successful entrepreneurs is their level of confidence in both their business idea and their ability. When you want buyers and investors to believe in you and your ideas, you need to truly believe in yourself first. You can still be open to feedback and critique, but you should be completely convinced that your business idea will yield positive results and that you have the capacity to make it happen. Carrying out in depth research into your business idea will help to dispel any doubts. So know your market, your USP and your key personal strengths to bolster your self-belief.
Take risks and don’t fear failure
Risks are inherent in any new venture and we frequently hear many successful business people say that failure is an inevitable part of success. Being willing to take risks and move outside of your comfort zone is all part of the journey. It’s crucial that you frame failure as an opportunity to learn. The path to success will hopefully have an upwards trajectory but it is rarely a straight line. Any failure should drive you forward. Observe and absorb what you have learned, brush yourself off and start again.
Assess your strengths
You might feel you have what it takes to run a thriving business but are unsure of the exact nature of the company. If that’s the case, it’s time to do some honest soul-searching. Go back to basics and find answers to the obvious questions. What are you good at? Is there a new sector/skill you would like to master? What do you want or need to get out of the business? The latter is an important determiner. If the main motivation is to have a second income or spend more time with family the business idea might look very different to one based on financial independence and rapid growth. You can’t be a Jack and Jill of all trades. Successful entrepreneurs leverage their strengths and understand that they can’t do everything.
Do your research
It doesn’t matter if you’re a budding entrepreneur with either a vague concept or a strong idea, research is absolutely critical during the early stages. Start online to gauge your potential markets, assess feasibility and check out valid competitors. Networking via local business groups is a good way to evaluate an idea, as well as attending relevant business events for practical advice and guidance.
Devise a Plan
Every potential business needs a proper business plan to help you set financial goals, assess your value proposition and map out the practicalities to help you succeed. There are some fantastic online resources that offer free templates and advice you get you started. So once you have a firm idea, you need to draft a plan to determine what you can achieve and how you will achieve it for the first year of trading. Having this on paper will help to set some concrete targets and establish metrics by which you can measure success. You will also need a clear business plan for any finance applications – from opening a business account to applying for loans.
Markets and Marketing
It may sound obvious but before you hang out the ‘open’ sign you need to truly know your market. All too often, small business owners think they know what their customers want without actually delving further into the potential market. Not many start-ups have the funds available for a dedicated market research company, however you can easily find out lots of valuable information looking at views and opinions on social media or even competitors’ sites.
Being rigid isn’t an option in business and can be a great way to fail. The ability to adapt to change quickly is critical, whether there’s a new competitor springing on to the scene or dip in demand in the target market. Being flexible means having the courage and conviction to rethink a situation, keeping track of feedback about pricing, products and services and making tweaks when necessary. The path of an entrepreneur will occasionally go off course and flexibility is an important skill to keep you on track.
Research shows that female role models are incredibly important for aspiring women entrepreneurs to empower, provide inspiration and reset negative mind-sets. Whether it is for advice on a business plan or funding for an idea, having other people who can say they’ve been there, done that, will be a huge help. There are several options for finding female business role models. Women’s mentoring schemes are widely available and can be found via a simple online search. Also, networking and attending events aimed at like-minded business women, such as Women in Business Expo 2019, can be an invaluable way to build your confidence and contacts book, as well as getting practical advice on making a start-up a success.
There is no fool proof way of starting your own business and many entrepreneurs say it is often a learn-as-you-go process. However once you’ve established a strong idea, the more planning, research and decision-making you take early on, the better chance your company will have for success. The Women in Business Expo, which takes place 16-17 October in Farnborough, will provide an essential resource for all budding entrepreneurs. The ‘free to attend’ seminar theatre will cover a range of informative topics with sessions on everything from investment and crowdfunding to CRM software and social media marketing. The perfect platform to help you thrive in the world of new business.