In business you will have to think money. Because in the absence of money you are going to find it a bit difficult to get your business going. Money is an important factor for starting your business. You sure need it. The bank, venture capitalists, the Liberia Business Association (LIBA), or your own savings could be viable options.
Friend, to start your business and to get it going you will have to sort out the law and money you need to find an attorney. Choose someone with whom you “connect” and who shows that he or she understands your business. There will be many hurdles to leap as you go from working stiff to overwork and underpaid small business owner. Some of those hurdles will be composed of stacks of documents with rules and regulations, ranging from legal requirements, taxes, fees, contracts, shares, partnerships, building and more. Having somebody you can call when the need arises will not only give you peace of mind, it will give you much-needed resources that can help you plan for success.
Get and account with a bank that will suit your business needs and if possible get a website. It’s your storefront, so anything and everything you can do to make people want to visit, and want to stay, do it. Hire professional designers. They may cost more initially, but a well presented and trustworthy site is essential. It needs to look professional and work with ease. If you can’t afford having a website, advertise on the radio or newspapers or do strategic advertisement through people.
When you start a business, be realistic. You will probably not roll out of the gate making 100 percent of whatever you project, so you need to have enough ready reserve to fund things until you are really up and running. One of the surest roads to failure is under-capitalization.
After you have gone through with the setting up of your business you are now ready to launch your business. The first thing you will have to do is to build your product or develop your service. Once you have the business all planned, financed, and have your basic level of staffing, get going. Whether that’s sitting down with the engineers and getting the software coded and tested, or getting materials sourced and shipped to your fabrication room (aka “garage”), or purchasing in bulk and marking up the price, the building process is the time during which you prepare for market. During this time, you may discover things such as:
The need to squeeze the ideas. Perhaps the product needs to be a different color, texture or size. Maybe your services need to be broader, narrower or more detailed. This is the time to attend to anything that crop up during your testing and development phases. You’ll know innately when something needs modification to make it better or to make it less like a competitor’s stale offerings. Getting feedback. Friends and family make great resources for asking questions and getting feedback––don’t hesitate to use them as your sounding board. The need to increase the size of your premises. This happens more often than expected. Once the stock starts piling up, you may find it ends up in your living room, bedroom or in your garden area. Think rental of storage premises if needed.
When you have a desire for partnership since it has some advantages, you will have to choose wisely. When choosing the person or people you’re going to build the business with, be careful. Even if someone is your best friend, it doesn’t mean that you will partner well in a business operation. Things to consider when choosing your co-leaders and support players include:
Does the other person you are in business with complement your weaknesses? Or do both of you bring only one set of the same skills to the table? If the latter, be wary as you can have too many cooks doing the same thing while other things are left unattended.
Do you see eye to eye on the big picture? Arguments about the details are a given, and are important for getting things right. But not seeing eye to eye on the big picture, the real purpose of your business can cause a split that may be irreparable. Friend, be sure your team cares about the big picture, the details and buys into the purpose as much as you do.
You will also have to form a business entity. Decide what type of business you would like to be—a corporation, LLC, sole proprietorship, etc. This is important for tax purposes and for attracting investors. This decision can be complex, so read widely on the advantages and drawbacks of each entity, and also give consideration to the newly evolving social enterprise style entities that some jurisdictions are allowing to form. If you’re of a social entrepreneur bent, more socially-minded business structures may be just the ticket for your business.
You may determine it will take $10,000 to start your business, and that’s fine. You get your $10,000, buy your desks and printers and raw materials, and then the second month arrives, and you’re still in production, and the rent is due, and your employees want to be paid, and all the bills hit at once. When this happens, your only likely recourse will be to pack it in. If you can, try to have the reserves for a year of no income.
Whenever you see something spent wastefully—like electricity, phone plans, stationery, and packaging—look around, and estimate how much really need, and minimize or remove the cost in every way possible. Think prudently when you start up, including hiring items instead of purchasing them and using pre-paid plans for services it needs.
Secure space. Whether it’s an office, or a warehouse, if you need more space than your garage or your spare bedroom, go for it.If you don’t generally need an office beyond your home, but may occasionally need meeting space, there are often places downtown that can address those needs.
Friend, you will have to Chart your way to financial success. What price do you intend to sell your product or service for? How much will it cost you to produce? Work out a rough estimate for net profit—factoring in fixed costs like rent, energy, employees, etc.
Also you will have to check out your competitors. Know how much they are selling a similar product for. Can you add something to it (add value) to make yours different and hence make it a more enticing price? For example, perhaps your company would like to provide an additional year of guarantee at no cost, or a repair part free-of-charge or an additional gadget with the initial item.
Competition isn’t just about the goods or services themselves. It is also about your social and environmental credibility. Consumers are increasingly conscious of the need to show that your business is concerned with labor conditions and isn’t damaging the environment. Certification endorsements from reputable organizations can reassure customers that your product or service is more aligned with their values than one lacking the certification.
Keep a close eye on your running costs and keep them in line with your projections. Whether you’re a $50 a year company, or a $1,000,000 company, you always need to know where your money is being spent. It may be that you’re running a bit more electricity than you had budgeted: take care of business, and turn off some lights.
(Chealy Brown Dennis is a marketing and business development consultant. He is also a much sought after motivational speaker and offers training in leadership and organizational development, creative sales and marketing, strategic planning, wealth creation, team building and management and offers on-location and train-the-trainer formats. He can be contacted through email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or on phone at: 0886-264-611 or 0776-545-394)