Thinking of starting your own small business? Cool! Me too. Before you dive into it, there are a bunch of things you should consider — you want to make sure you’re starting the best business you can possibly start. Here’s some advice that I’ve found really helpful.
- Own Your Name.
Your name, your label, your brand will obviously be how people recognize you. Make sure the company name you choose is actually available, and if it is, register it quick smart. It will be a lot of extra time, money and stress for you if you get all your branding sorted, only to find that your dream name is already taken. Be sure to choose something that you can trademark and also use as a domain name, if setting up a website is something you want to do.
You can register your business name on the Australian Security & Investments Commission (ASIC) website. ASIC keeps a list of registered business names – you can use the site to check that your business name is available before you start creating your logo and marketing materials. Sounds pretty easy, but don’t get caught out – business stuff can be a little sneaky. Registering a business name with ASIC is an important part of setting up and running your business, but it doesn’t provide exclusive ownership of your business name (say whaaat?). Basically, to gain exclusivity over your business name, you have to register it as a trademark with IP Australia. Told you – so sneaky.
- Find Your Niche.
So, you’ve got your name, nice one! Internet high-fives all round. Now it’s time to seriously consider your target market. I mean, I’m sure you’ve already thought about it, but think carefully about what goods or services your business is providing. How does this fit in with the current market? What will make you stand out from other, well-established businesses? Is there a gap in the market you can fill? As a new business, it’ll be super hard and probably really intimidating going up against big brands; you have to make sure you have something amazing to offer. Find your niche and cater to it. Also, your market is a constantly evolving organism. Be prepared to introduce new stuff and adjust your products or services accordingly. Things change, make sure you can keep up!
- Consider Your Profits.
Have a cheeky estimate regarding your profits. This sounds superficial, but it’s pretty darn vital. The most important thing about your business is you. Will this business be enough to sustain you? Is this your full-time gig now? Or just a fun side project? If you’re starting your own business, you’re probably an adult (props to you if you’re still in school – please teach me your entrepreneurial ways), which means you’ve got bills to pay, friend! Make sure you can pay them and support your new business. Be prepared to sacrifice some of the fun things in life; eat-out less, maybe don’t book a big holiday anytime soon, have a shopping expedition at your local op-shop and wait a little longer to get your hair re-done.
- You Now Love Hard Work.
Starting a business takes guts and it’s kind of a gamble. You’ll need all the bravery, heart and brains you can muster to make your business work. You’ll also need to be prepared to put in the hard-yards. Think about it, you’re probably running this new thang on your own, right? Sure, maybe you’ll have a few buddies around to support you, fantastic! But mostly, you’ll be on your lonesome. That means you play every role that a bigger company would have a team of people for. You’re the marketing team, the financial adviser, the innovative-ideas-guy, the sales team, the web-designer, the blog writer, the social media guru and so much more. Yep, these are just a few of the many hats you’ll need to wear, so, you now love hard work.
- Get Ready To Fail. Get Ready For the Haters.
Bit of a depressing point, isn’t it? I don’t mean you’re going to fail fail, I just mean you’re probably gonna hit a couple of bumps on your road to success. Take your failings and learn from them, turn your mistakes into opportunities and don’t be too hard on yourself. The first few months or even years will be the hardest and most disheartening for your small business. But hey, you’re still learning! Don’t forget that, pal. Mistakes and hiccups are inevitable, but you’re working your butt off and doing the best you can, and that’s pretty admirable.
Similarly, haters gon’ hate. What you’re selling may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and some people might let you know about it. That’s gonna hurt, but don’t let those slippery gypsies get to you! If you get a bit of fire coming your way, try to turn it to your advantage. Perhaps those negative comments actually do hold a teeny, tiny bit of merit; don’t let your pride get in the way of improving your business.
- Make Sure You Have Support.
Running a small business is scary stuff. I mean, you’ll be feeling rundown, stressed out and overwhelmed in no time (again, sorry for the depressing but probably true statement). Surround yourself with family and friends who will support you. Make sure you have a shoulder to cry on, an ear to grumble to and a friend who’ll take you out just so you can escape from your crazy business mind-set for a moment. Remember when I said before that you’d basically be working 24/7? Yeah, you will be, but don’t prioritize your business over the ones you love most. Make time for your significant other, children, parents, friends, dog, axolotl or other life form that you hold dear to your heart. Give yourself time to wind down and just chill, man.
There are literally thousands of things you should consider before you start a small business — these are just six of them. Do your own research and learn as much as you can about small businesses before you begin yours. Being your own boss will be a lot of hard work, but it’ll also be super exciting, humbling and rewarding. Good luck with the exhilarating journey ahead!