Start your own business – the right way

Posted 8th July 2019

From the idea stage to bringing a product or service to market, a business launch encompasses myriad steps. Darren Isaac, owner of TFA, offers his advice on starting the right way.

I’ve been in business for over twenty years and, in that time, I’ve built five multi-million pound companies from scratch. People often ask me how I got started and say how they would love to run their own business, but they are quick to disregard it as a possibility, for one reason or another. ANYONE can start and build their own business, with next to no money, but most who would like to don’t because they talk themselves out of it.

Here are my top five rules for getting your own business started and making it work right from day one:

Choose a business that you will enjoy. It’s crucial to your success that you enjoy what you do. If you are not sure what you want to do, research online and see what areas present the greatest opportunities. Above all, ask yourself, would I be happy to do this for the rest of my life?

Write a business plan. Most companies fail by their second year and, I can tell you from experience, the ones I have seen fail the fastest didn’t plan. There are some great software packages that walk you through the process, such as Business Plan Pro, and that make you think about what success looks like. Remember this, writing a plan is not about putting on paper what you’re going to do, it makes you explore all of the possibilities and create a roadmap with numbers that work and all potential problems considered. I wrote a plan once for a business and, by the time I got to the last section, I realised I had overlooked something fundamental that meant the business would likely fail. I corrected it. Only by going through this process will you have a 360-degree vision of your success.

Finance it properly. Your business plan will show you exactly how much money you need to survive your first year. Plan to make no money in year one; most companies do not. Depending on your business idea, you may be able to run it alongside your regular job. If it needs you to commit full-time, then only leave your job if you have enough money to cover your costs for a year. If you don’t you will give yourself undue pressure and that will almost certainly affect your passion and performance negatively. A good business plan will help you to approach the bank for a loan, also speak to friends and family to invest, or even try going out to crowd-funding. I have raised money for businesses all three ways, but you must have a solid business plan first.

Brand your business well. This is one of the most common areas where businesses cut corners. Your brand is not just your logo, it’s the look and feel of your whole business from the customer’s perspective. Make sure you take plenty of time to create a great name, one you can register as a website domain easily, and that you create (with the help of professionals) a superb logo, website and business image. Perception is everything – it’s what you are asking your customers to buy into. Too many companies start out with a poor company image and end up looking like a poor business!

Focus on low-cost marketing methods to build your foundations. When you are starting out, unless prospective customers know you exist, how are they supposed to do business with you? The best methods for marketing your business will vary, depending on what you do, but generally you should avoid expensive advertising and focus on cheap, measurable methods. Commonly, I find start ups benefit most from methods such as social media, pop-up stands (e.g. in shopping centres), e-mail marketing, telemarketing (calling people by phone), leaflet drops, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO, so your website can be found more easily) and Pay-Per-Click ads (Internet ads, but be very wary as this is a complex area for the beginner). The point is, focus on the things you can do yourself that do not cost much and build your network through communication.

By following these five rules, you will get your business off to a secure, flying start. I look forward to sharing with you successful ways to sell and market your business in coming editions of Pulse Magazine.