Starting up in business requires a series of evaluations, and new business owners are often advised to put in place plans based on hard evidence and honest appraisal. If you want to make a good impression from the outset, there are certain things to think about before you launch. For example, at a fundamental level, you should undertake a personal evaluation – why do you want to start the business? Perhaps you’re seeking freedom, money, or the opportunity to be creative – or maybe a combination of all three.

Here are some simple ways to get your business formula right from the start.

Cofounders discussing startup issues
Businessman and woman discussing together while looking at laptop in office

Analyze your chosen industry

Basic questions to address include being aware of who will buy the products or services you wish to offer, knowing how much money you will need for set up and initial running costs, and being clear about the competition. If you are able to identify the ways in which your business offer is unique – your unique selling point or USP – so much the better.

Next, you can look at your options in terms of choosing a legal framework – you will need to give your business a name, make sure you obtain relevant licenses or permits, and register your business officially. This is a good point at which to check any insurance cover you might be required to have, and to consider if an option for additional insurance would be wise.

This article can give you an idea or two on how to analyze your industry.

Your business plan

A business plan sets out how you expect your commercial strategy to be realized. You can consider what tactics you will use and why, plus the specific activities in which you will engage, as well as what you will not do and why. It’s a good idea to highlight key dates and deadlines as this will help you to monitor progress, particularly during your first 12 months in operation. At this point, you should also work on a budget and a cash flow projection – make sure both are realistic rather than optimistic.

With your robust business plan in hand, now is the time to seek financial help. On average, most small businesses get started by utilizing personal income – perhaps a recent redundancy payment, a credit card, or a personal loan. Some businesses start with help from family members.

Practical preparations

When adequate funding is in place, you can turn your attention to the practical items you need, and this is where the first impression you make will be key. In terms of premises, for example, can you picture your target market being impressed by your chosen business location? When you have negotiated the relevant leases, and made sure you are connected (electricity, telephone, etc.) you will want to furnish your property in a way that indicates your status.

You need to be aware of every detail – choose your logo carefully and make sure it appears on all your stationery. You could also consider arranging for company details, such as a website address, to be inscribed on pens, pencils, and rubber stamps – these are handy to keep with you at all times. Set up your administrative systems in good time – use personalized rubber stamps to streamline your paperwork, for example, by marking correspondence with the date received or stamping invoices that have been paid. If you are looking for an inspiration, here is a good range of stamps available for business as well as personal use on simplystamps.com.

Entrepreneur working on his startup

Launching your business

If you need to set prices and hire staff, now is the time to do both. For pricing, look at what competitors are charging for the same or similar goods and services – you may be able to offer quality merchandise at slightly lower prices, at least initially, depending on your costs. Many new businesses offer jobs to family members; however, this depends on the skills you require and the nature of the business.

Planning a launch party is a useful step as it gives you the opportunity to make business contacts, network, and start your marketing campaign to attract customers. Again, if you are giving away freebies, make sure they carry your website address, phone number, or are stamped with your logo, and encourage any party guests to spread the word about your new enterprise to colleagues and other business partners. Always follow up a launch party with further contact, in person, by email, or via a business newsletter, as a way of reinforcing the first impression you made on your guests.

Finally, remember that all businesses make mistakes, so expect a period of trial and error before things settle down. Take a creative approach, enjoy what you are doing, and be mindful of new opportunities all the time.