03 Aug How To Start A Business
There are probably a thousand different ways to get a new business off the ground. From getting a loan or funding from a dragon investor, giving up your day job and going all in, to bootstrapping an idea from your kitchen table and being what’s now known as ‘ramen profitable’ until you’re bought out or find seed investment…
But there is another, perhaps simpler and more comfortable way and it’s perfect for people like you and me.
We’re not building an app or a clever piece of software or the next big ‘social platform’. We’re not making anything tangible to sell like a car or a robot or an incredible new invention that will change people’s lives…
We’ve had a good, strong, successful career. We know an awful lot about our specialist subject. We can see how others could use our help, assistance, support and expertise.
We have an idea that our specialist subject could be approached differently, more successfully, with fewer complications and better results.
We’re good at communicating with people and we enjoy helping them be successful.
This all means that we can convert our careers into consultancies and coaching practices and they’re the best kind of business ever. Why? Here are a few reasons:
- We can work from home with no or very low overheads, we need only a phone, computer, table, chair, trusty notepad and pen.
- Our product is in our head, there is no item to develop, build, store or ship.
- We don’t have to work 9 – 5. We might choose to work 9pm-2am, but that’s our decision.
- Our work can fit around our lifestyle. Need to pick up children from school, or be there for an elderly relative? No problem.
- We get paid for helping other people (nice!)
- We can set our own fees, terms and targets.
- Our earning power is unlimited – we can grow as big (by working with associates or employing staff) or stay as boutique as we like.
So how do you go about converting your career into a successful business? Here’s my step-by-step process:
- Get really good at what you do. Work for someone else’s business that has an excellent reputation in your field, so that you can learn all the ropes, mistakes and routes to success while being paid.
- Wait until you have enough experience, knowledge and expertise. Ideally, make sure you have some blue-chip company names on your CV. I find that around the age of 40, with 20-odd years experience behind you is an ideal time to start thinking about setting up your own consultancy or coaching practice.
- If you think you need more qualifications to either increase your confidence or to make sure you’re at the cutting edge of your field, take those courses while you’re employed. But don’t forget your experience already counts for an awful lot.
- Keep a clear track record of your successes and the results you help your employers and their clients achieve – add these to your Linkedin profile.
- Network like a ninja. Go to all the available networking lunches, dinners, events and talks you possibly can. Create a high-level network and build strong relationships while you’re employed, if people know, like and trust you they’ll be more likely to refer business to you when they can.
- Ask for testimonials from your clients, bosses and colleagues and have them added to your Linkedin profile.
- While you’re employed, take time to plan for success. Set your income objectives, visualise your ideal working day, map out your exit from your job and set your launch date.
- Start building a financial war chest. You don’t need that much money to get started as a consultant or coach, but it’s reassuring to know you have a few months income in the bank when you leave your corporate job, especially if you have a mortgage to pay and dependents.
- Create your value proposition – define clearly the intellectual products and services you’ll offer and the results your future clients will enjoy if they work with you. Create proprietorial processes and signature ways of working that are unique to you and will differentiate you from the competition.
- Think about the kind of people you’re going to enjoy working with. Who will value your results, who will pay you quickly and happily? Develop an ideal client profile and keep that firmly in mind.
- Map out your processes for quoting, selling, receiving payments and managing projects. Knowing how you plan to work from the outset creates confidence and clarity – these processes can evolve and change over time, nothing is set in stone!
- Start building your business before you resign. Register it as a limited company straightaway if you can. There’s nothing wrong with operating as a sole trader until you’re ready, but registering with companies house and even for VAT from the off takes your mindset to another level (tip: pay a friendly accountant to do all that for you – it’s easy for them to do!)
- Set yourself up with a simple online accounts system like Xero or Quickbooks so that you can invoice professionally from your very first project.
- Open a business bank account too, treat yourself as a professional from day one.
- Package your new company beautifully with a strong brand – this includes more than just a logo and stationery! But high-quality business cards show you’re a serious contender and will increase your confidence too.
- Build your website (it might not have your name on it yet, especially if you’re having to keep your plans under wraps at work), but make sure it’s easy to find, simple to navigate and makes it really straightforward for your future clients to buy your services. It will also mean that you can use a proper email address from the start rather than a far less professional gmail or hotmail address.
- As long as it doesn’t contravene your employment contract, consider starting to work on projects on the side while you’re still employed. If you can do this while working full-time great, but you might want to see whether you can reduce your hours in the meantime.
- Once you have some experience and hopefully a few glowing testimonials it will be time to take the plunge. Resign from your job and send an email (as personally as possible) to all your contacts, friends, family, ex-colleagues, clients and contractors letting them know about your new business and the kinds of client you’re looking for.
- Include lunches, dinners, coffees and networking meetings with prospects and potential partners in your startup and marketing budget. People buy from people, these relationships will help form the bedrock of your business.
- Open a bottle of something bubbly and celebrate your decision to invest and trust in yourself, confident in the knowledge that you have set yourself up with a very strong foundation for success.
If this sounds like the kind of business you’d like to set up then we can help you with the techie bit. Our Startup Fast programme will help you get your branding, website and marketing plan sorted in 90 days or less (or longer if you’d prefer!) so that you can concentrate on getting ready to escape the confines of your corporate job.
Just get in touch for a free consultation and we’ll let you know if we think the programme will suit you (it’s definitely not for everyone as it’s very practical and quite intensive), with absolutely no obligation.
We can’t wait to hear about your plans!