Starting a small business can be a dream come true for many but it can also be a very daunting prospect. There’s no doubt that getting a company off the ground requires a lot of hours and a lot of hard work. While the ambition, creativity and inspiration may all come naturally, the planning, the research and the funding can be a bit more arduous.
This is where good, solid research comes in. Research can be the best weapon in a small businesses’ arsenal: using it, you can determine your business plan, factor in rivals, map out your finances and even branch out with a partner. Read on for some key areas you should investigate as you launch your new business off the ground…
The first step for many people is writing a business plan. This serves as an important step in laying out a vision for your business and is a good time to focus on elements like competition, and the role that you could fulfil within a given market. There are now a number of online resources in which you can look up a rival company and explore its past successes and failures via financial records. This way, you can determine who you may be in direct competition with, and what you could do to set yourself apart.
There are also local business training or counselling services available for start-ups. Seeking professional guidance is invaluable for the new entrepreneur and is in many cases, free of charge, so this is worth looking into as well.
Factoring in location
Considering the location of your business is the next key step. If you’re interested in a city, town, village or even block, be sure to do your research; are there similar businesses already in operation nearby? Does your desired location comply with local zoning laws? Are there any locations where there is an obvious gap in the market? Location is key to any business so it’s important to fully understand the existing business landscape in your chosen area.
Looking at the financial side
Financing a business is inevitably the most challenging stage for any entrepreneur. However, from government loans to venture capital, research into financing will reveal that a significant amount of money is available for all types of start-ups. Take the time to consider what type of financing you are eligible for and what would work best for your business, whether this is an individual ‘angel investor’, or a straight-forward bank loan.
The administrative elements of starting a business can be very intimidating. Many entrepreneurs find having a partner an ideal situation as they begin to build a business. Researching potential partners, either individuals or organizations, can help a first time entrepreneur find the perfect match in terms of complementary skills and experience.
Search online databases to look for potential individuals, or check up on the background and company history of someone you’re considering; it’s important to keep in mind what your own individual strengths and weaknesses may be so that you seek to find balance in your partner relationship.
Remember, an entrepreneur can never be over-prepared. While there are certain to be unexpected elements as you progress with your business, you will never regret doing thorough research ahead of time so you have a comprehensive and realistic view of the existing business climate.