This is a guest post by Will Roberts
Will is a marketer and CMO at Mindwork Labs.
He works on projects that generally involve an affiliate marketing element and tweets as @WillDRoberts. Aged just 18, he’s already making waves in the marketing and content industry, working alongside young entrepreneur (and Secret Millionaire!) Mark Pearson.
1. The idea
In its simplest form, a business is just the delivery of an idea. Nearly all of us have thoughts that could form the foundation of a business that we believe would be very successful, but in many cases it stays as just that – an idea.
‘Forcing’ out ideas because you are eager to get a business off the ground is not a healthy way of going about the process. While the timing of some businesses is the reason for their success, this isn’t usually a case of revisiting ‘old’ ideas you may have had while on a holiday, long walk or in the middle of a stressful day at work. Giving yourself time to think about things more gives you the chance to explore various markets, which allows you to spot more opportunities as you go!
It’s often the simplest ideas that do well. Instagram is a great example of this – an app that allows you to take photos and put 18 different filters over them sold for $715 million. Any one of us could have thought of that, so why weren’t you the one to sell a company to Facebook for that much money?
2. The resources
You can’t start a business without resources. However, these resources don’t have to be a serious round of funding or a team of people. Your time is probably the most valuable resource you will have, so use that as your ‘startup capital’ and make the most of it. In reality, most people starting a business will also have a full-time job, so utilising every minute is crucial.
Internet-based businesses are extremely popular for many startups for a whole host of reasons. One such reasons is the reduction of the barrier to entry – these days, you don’t need to have any specialist coding or design knowledge to have a web presence thanks to various ‘plug and play’ options that are available. Play around on the demos of these products – it may be that one of them will suit your needs, at least in the beginning.
3. The people
It is the people who make a make or break a business – their ideas, dedication, eye for opportunities and, ultimately, the decisions they make are what shapes the company. Throughout the whole process, surround yourself with the best people you can. If your strengths are in marketing, you may need advice and support on software development or design.
In 2013, it is easier than ever to access information. There are numerous tools available to you that can allow you to ask the right people the right questions. Twitter is a great place to start because there are so many people, with specific experience relevant to your market, who will freely offer advice. At just about any time of day or night! Tell people about what you are doing and start conversations with those who you think could be of some help, and do what you can to help other people. You may be surprised by the level of support you receive.
For many, accounting is the boring side of business. You really don’t want to spend the finite time you have playing around with spreadsheets for HMRC’s sake when you could be adding value to your business. A cloud accounting service like KashFlow makes professionally managing your accounting from anywhere very easy, and it’s specifically aimed at small businesses. Keeping the books tidy is increasingly becoming a very simple task, so there are no excuses not to do it from the beginning! If you do have special circumstances, complications or questions you might want to consider paying an initial small accountancy consultancy fee so that you start on the right foot!
5. The plan
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. Extensive and rigid planning are not in the nature of a startup business, so a slightly different approach to corporate planning is needed. In my experience setting project-specific goals, such as development deadlines and revenue targets on both short and medium terms, will help you get to (or at least figure out!) your long-term destination. These targets will help you to keep focus when you want to take a night off to catch up on Eastenders! However, goals are useless unless they are regularly measured and reviewed, and revised projections are made. If you grow too quickly or too slowly you will fail; cash flow will swallow you up and leave you on the startup scrapheap. Careful planning and staying close to the figures (which using a service like KashFlow can help with!) is a necessity to avoid the basic pitfalls of business, giving you the best chance to make something of the project!
Business can be simple but is too often made to seem overcomplicated. Put the foundations in place, keep the processes simple and then put your heart and soul into the venture. Do that, and you could be the next big success story!