Shall I start my own business

It’s a horrible fact, but a very high percentage of start-up businesses fail; about 90% with 10% failing within the first year of starting. Of the 90%, 42% of start-up businesses fail because there’s no market need for their services or products. 29% failed because they ran out of cash. 23% failed because they didn’t have the right team running the business and19% were outcompeted.

This means that starting your own business is a decision you shouldn’t take lightly. But it also means that opening up your new venture is something that needs proper research, proper planning and proper investment.

But where should you start?

In my opinion, far too many people think that they are good at what they do as an employee so the transition to doing it for yourself should be simple. Wrong. Take a big step back and start at the beginning. Firstly, if you’re doing something new research whether what I am offering is in demand, where, why, by who, for how much etc. Also, what are your personal plans and what are your business plans?

If you’re breaking away from being an employee and starting up by offering the same sort of product/service, how am I different from the employer?

We’ve all seen Dragons Den where people arrive in the Den with what they think is a great idea only to find it isn’t. In a nutshell, ask yourself, boil it down and question, what problems am I solving and for who?

To ‘launch’ there are a wealth of practical elements you also need to consider. From what am I called to where am I working from. From how am I doing invoicing to do I need a website? From what emails do I use to how do I register with Companies House?

Start by thinking about what significant problems you could solve and how. Look for areas where solutions are already available but you can do better than existing companies either regarding efficiency, innovation or cost. You should look for areas where you can provide significant savings to the customer vs competitors. These types of businesses grow incredibly fast, particularly during recessions.

Hard to do I know, but try to think into the future, what will the world look like in 5 or 10 years? Thinking about the future will allow you to think about new markets and niches that may open due to innovations and new technologies.

The above are indications of questions to ask and elements to consider, but, to me, one of the major elements that quite often is not given the importance it should have, is the actual marketing of your business and this starts with putting together a marketing plan

Read next article on marketing planning >>

Direct Marketing

Too many organisations perceive direct marketing as just direct mail. This is not the case. Direct marketing is a marketing method and direct mail is just one of the initiatives available. It may well form over 50% of what is done under the direct marketing heading, but it is slowly being overtaken by the increasing number of press and TV ads with some sort of direct response devise –  e.g “Text Tell me more to 12345.”49936-on_target_direct_marketing

To me direct marketing could also come under the bracket of “pull marketing” where prospects are
being directly targeted and enticed in a companies’ marketing activity to respond; they are being “pulled.”

Anyway, no matter what heading or category direct marketing  is put under, each marketing initiative must have some sort of response mechanism which identifies the prospect and allows him or her to start a conversation with your organisation which could well lead to an appointment and (hopefully!) a problem-solving discussion and a business relationship.

But, don’t forget existing clients when you are looking at direct marketing. If you have got something new to say or are about to launch a new product or service, then existing clients should be given priority and should hear about this first!

There are loads of direct marketing companies and agencies out there who will tell you how to do mass mailings, but identify your market and tailor your  messaging. I’m not a fan of “buy now while stocks last” or “BOGOF” campaigns, but the underlying idea could be adapted. For example, target those people with a relevant need for your product or service and have the response go to a named and labelled person within your organisation; maybe even configure a new email address or phone number purely for direct marketing purposes?

Put yourself in the position of the receivers of your offer message – “How can I get hold of this?” – ……….and make it easy for them!