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 >>

What is a marketing audit?

Whatever the market your business operates in, it is safe to say that it is likely to be highly unpredictable and competitive and, as such, business owners cannot leave any stone un-turned in their search for growth and development.

One element often overlooked due to time or budget constraints is a full marketing audit.
By pressing pause and taking a serious look at your position in terms of the offer, the target audience, the current route to market and the actual brand. An audit can be a vital instrument to help an organisation establish its position and to identify its possible “difference” in the market as well as what resources and capacities it has as its disposal.

Conducting a marketing audit is one of the best and most sensible investments a business can make for the future.

But, what exactly is a marketing audit?
The Marketing Audit refers to the comprehensive, systematic, analysis, evaluation and the interpretation of the business marketing environment, both internal and external, its goals, objectives, strategies, principles to ascertain the areas of problem and opportunities and to recommend a plan of action to enhance the firm’s marketing performance.

The outlined definition clearly confirms the strategic and operational relevance of conducting a marketing audit, making it an instrument where businesses can dissect, analyse and assess their situation.

About the audit process
Carrying out a marketing audit can be quite time consuming and is often hard to do without bias if done internally, but it should be done by externally based skilled, experienced, and specialised marketing professionals.

Asking the correct type of questions is key to conducting a successful marketing audit. Proper R&D and the right questions unlock a business’s creative instinct and serve to stimulate the thought processes. For example, what time are we dedicating to social media and what has been the ROI?
The marketing audit also provides the business with a clear picture of its marketing function and business environment. It will help him / her to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the business.

I believe that the marketing audit process should encourage “out-of-the-box” thinking, since competitive advantage rarely comes from doing the same thing over and over. When businesses offer the same product and service to the same market by performing the same kind of marketing, no business will grow in the long run. In fact, it is likely that others will have conducted an audit and will be reaping the benefits, possibly from your pocket.