The Evolution of a Start-up
Every great business has to start from somewhere. Richard Branson didn’t build up his Virgin empire overnight. Apple didn’t become a technological leader without some hiccups along the way. Whether you’re toying with the idea of starting a new business or are looking to expand globally, this is the journey an average entrepreneur can expect to take.
Some people call it a lightbulb moment. That instant when we’re suddenly hit by a wave of inspiration. For some people, it’ s more of a gradual process – they’ve always had a passion for a hobby like baking, motorbikes or charity work, and have always dreamed of turning it into a viable business idea. For others, they may suddenly find a solution to a common problem, like the entrepreneur who developed a device for stabilising table legs after noticing so many restaurants using bits of cardboard.
We are starting to understand creativity and the brain, and how ideas are formed. Most evidence points to the fact that the brain is at its most creative when it’s relaxed, or when it’s distracted by something else and not too focussed on finding a solution.
Once you’ve had your initial idea, it’s time to flesh it out and test it on friends and family and create an entire brand personality around it. If your business idea is to develop a product, look at getting a basic prototype developed.
Promoting your idea
Once your friends and family are on board, it’s time to take the leap any entrepreneur must make and start becoming a salesperson, selling your idea to anyone who will listen. This will help you raise your profile, raise finance and get some positive word of mouth going before you launch. Start perfecting your elevator pitch and presentation skills and attending networking events so you’ll be ready to promote your business when the chance arises.
Businesses take money to launch, so you’ll have to think about attracting investors, applying for loans or even if you’d like to crowdfund your new venture. To get finance, you’ll first have to get all the ideas which are in your head onto paper in the form of a business plan. If you’ve never done anything like this before, don’t worry, there are lots of online resources from websites like Business Gateway, Start Up Britain and here at is4profit which can help you write your business plan.
There will be a few legal things you’ll have to think about before you get up and running, from registering your intellectual property to getting any licences and permits which you’ll need to operate and registering for tax. While this part may be the least glamorous and fun for some entrepreneurs, it’s so important to get it right before you carry on, or you could get into legal trouble or not meet your compliance obligations.
And whether your business will have a bricks and mortar presence or not, it will have to have an online presence too. Ideally you will have done some research into available domain names when you named your business, so your website address will mirror your brand. And you may also want to establish a social media presence on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn to reach as many potential customers as possible.
The first time you hire a second member of staff, grow your initial team or look at renting a larger shop is a big moment for a small business. Many entrepreneurs started out by working on their kitchen table on their own, which can be lonely. Having your business get so successful that you’re actually employing people is a momentous occasion and can be a rewarding feeling.
But it’s important to keep assessing your legal requirements, which may change as you expand. You’ll be legally obligated to take out employers liability insurance and may wish to offer new staff an employee health care plan as part of their package, for instance.
The three-year mark
The first few years of being in business are often the hardest. You will be establishing your brand and customer base and will be paying off all your set-up costs. In fact, one in three of all start-ups fail within the first three years. So if you’ve reached your third anniversary and are still doing well, celebrate your success and start thinking about where you want to get to in another three years.
You may want to keep your business going until you retire, but most entrepreneurs will have an end goal in mind. Do you want to float your business on the stock exchange? Or get bought up by a larger company? Perhaps you dream of expanding globally and dominate the market. Every business has its own journey, what’s yours?