It’s an exciting time starting up a new business, but there’s also a great deal to think about. Yes, there are the big things like what you’re going to call yourself and which particular part of the market you’re going for. But there are also a number of other elements that might not seem quite so important – until you discover that they are.
Spending a little time thinking about them now could well help you to become a small-business success.
Here are four areas to look at to start you off – no doubt, you’ll discover many more on the way.
You may need a mentor
If you’re starting up on your own for the first time, there’s going to be a great deal to learn. But the issue is that the learning process might well also include making mistakes and, as a small business, these can be hard to overcome.
So it’s always going to be a good idea to seek out a mentor if you can. Someone who has gone through the same process as you in the past and who would be happy to give you the benefit of their experience. It doesn’t need to be someone whose business is in the same sector, so spread your net wide – and maybe even see if the Swindon Chamber of Commerce can help.
Covering unexpected business expenses
One of the biggest issues that any new or small business faces is cashflow. Until you become more established, there may be times when you need to pay bills or suppliers but the money’s just not in the bank.
That’s why taking out one of the many business credit cards available could be a good move. It won’t tie you in like a business loan would as it gives you the flexibility to only use it when you need it and to pay it off as soon as you can. Business credit cards are also very useful for paying for the sorts of expenses that you can claim back against tax, since the monthly statement is an effective way of keeping an additional record as well as the receipts.
Narrowing the gender lending gap
Of course, there are some areas of a business that would benefit more from a loan than from the use of credit cards. But recent research has shown that, for unknown reasons, of the total of money lent to business owners, only 16% goes to women. It may be at its widest in the East of England, where the proportion sinks as low as 12%, but that doesn't negate the issue in Swindon and the South West.
It's likely that, once this information starts to spread, lenders committed to diversity will be looking more favourably on women business-people looking for finance. If you fall into this category and apply for a loan you, could be in the vanguard of evening up the balance.
Your disaster recovery plan
This might sound like something that only major companies need to worry about, but it’s equally important for a small business to have a contingency in place in case the premises or equipment become unusable, even for a short period of time.
For example, a flood from the offices above could wreck your computers and electronic equipment, or a power outage could stop everything working. While these are improbable scenarios, they're not impossible, and you don't want to learn that the hard way. Having a fixed plan about how and where you could keep the business running is essential; the last time you want to be thinking about this is when the crisis is upon you.
What all these three examples have in common is that they’re a question of planning ahead, and this is a general principle that you can use for all aspects of your business. After all, we all know what the consequences of failing to plan can be!