Starting your own business can be a real challenge; there are numerous decisions that have to be made. Here are my top ten tips for your new venture.
1. Prepare a business plan: what sort of business do you want to have? Sole trader? Partnership? Limited liability company? and when do you plan to officially open for business. Depending on your expertise, type of business and other personal considerations, you should average at least three to six months from the planning stage to being fully functional in your new business. This time line will vary depending on numerous variables including how long it will take you to source financing; finding a suitable location and the other tips discussed below.
2. Location, location, location: The location of your business is one of the most important factors particularly for a service based business. Naturally, if you are a graphics designer or computer programmer, your location isn’t as crucial because you can function from almost anywhere, once your equipment has been set up. I am referring to law offices, accountants, doctors, engineers and the like. It is important to do some market research and consider whether the location you are choosing will cater adequately to your customers’ needs. Is it easily accessible? Is it near town, in town or in a busy area? A secluded location works well for a writer, who wants to finish a novel; customers who cannot find you will eventually find someone else to assist them.
3. See your bank (or financial institution): Visit your bank as soon as you have decided on the type of business and prepared a business plan. In your business plan, itemise a budget for three to six months. Include start- up capital, that is what you will be purchasing to get the business going as well as an estimated budget for the daily operations of your business for the next few months. Your banker will be in a position to advise you further on which loan option would be best suited for your business.
4. Name your business: the name should reflect the nature of your business as well as, be unique. It is advisable to register your business name before you start operating your business. See your lawyer for assistance with this or go to the Companies Registry for further information.
5. Buy, rent or lease? What is your financial standing? Are you in a position to purchase property? If you are, discuss this as an option with your financial adviser. Renting or leasing a property is more common. Renting would be yearly or less and leasing would be for over a year.
6. Furniture and office equipment: Sourcing the right furniture and office equipment for your business will take some time. Do not simply buy the first items you see – shop around and get assistance with choosing the right furniture to suit the décor and the business. The décor you choose reflects the image of the business; an office with papers flowing all over the floor may not project the desired business image.
7. Who to hire: getting the right personnel is vital to your business. Look for individuals who are pleasant, articulate, dress neatly, have good personal and work habits and good references. He or she should be proficient with good inter-personal and technical skills.
8. Insurance: speak to your insurance agent about the type of insurance you need for your business. Will you be getting insurance to cover just the contents of your office or business? For yourself? How about insurance for members of your team?
9. Accounting: Get a good accountant to set up your accounts and review your books periodically. This is important for the proper operation and management of your business. Billing, fees, salaries and income are just a few of the issues that your accountant will be able to advise you on from the outset.
10. Get a lawyer! There are a lot of legal issues that arise when setting up your business and for the duration of your business. Get a lawyer well versed in your type of business, and seek advice early. Do not wait until some difficulties arise to select a lawyer. It is preferable to have a good working relationship with your attorney before a crisis arises.
It is vital to have a good ethical and professional compass when dealing with your customers and members of the public. Safeguard your reputation and your public image jealously. ¤
By Trudy O. Glasgow B.A., LL.B (Hons), BVC, LL.M, P.C.H.E*