Absolutely terrifying! These are the words that sprung to mind when I thought about quitting my comfortable full-time job to take the plunge and set up my own business. It’s certainly not a decision to take lightly, and there’s an abundance of preparations, ideas and knowledge to be had before taking the jump to brave the business world alone.
In this post, I’ll explore and divulge my own personal experiences in the hope of imparting some useful wisdom to those thinking of doing the same. So here we go…
It was almost two years ago when I was working as a Marketing Executive for a solar panel company when I decided to go back to my roots and direct my focus to copywriting. I’d just like to point out that this is undeniably the best and most intelligent decision I’ve made in my life-time and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
No business can succeed without an initial idea. It doesn’t necessarily have to be something entirely unique, but should offer a product or service that people have a genuine need for. As my brother and I work in fields that are closely related and feel there is simply more to life than working for someone else in a 9 – 5 job, we combined our skill sets to create a truly desirable service.
While working for our current employers we dedicated many hours of our spare time to researching the market, competition and target audience to define our USP, brand and marketing efforts. Not to mention the fundamentals involved to help the business function, i.e. contracts, invoicing, tax operations.
Unless you have many thousands of pounds in the bank to cover your living expenses for a year or so, be prepared to burn the midnight oil for a while until you find your feet. It was difficult for the first year as we both worked two jobs to build the business and secure a steady client base. Your circumstances may be different, but at the time this was the only way we could make it work. It’s certainly not an easy process and a work-life balance was almost non-existent for the first year of our new venture, but if you have the determination and desire to succeed it will all be worth it in the end; I promise you this!
Building the business
To build your start-up you will need to understand where your target audience is and the basics of marketing your product or service. Knowing where your customers hang out on and offline will be the key to making money. In our case, face-to-face networking and social media have proven to be the most successful forms of marketing our service.
First things first, you need to build yourself a website; this is your online shop window and should be one of the initial tasks to complete when setting up your business. Creating your brand image and message will inform your customers of the service you offer and how you are the number one choice in your industry.
Over the last two years we feel privileged to have worked with some amazing clients who we’ve built long-lasting relationships with. As a start-up you need to distinguish yourself as a credible company people can trust; one who will assist your customers whenever it’s needed. This will have your customers coming back to you time and time again. It’s so much easier to pitch to someone who’s used your product or service, rather than an entirely new customer who had no idea you existed. Consequently, make sure you keep in touch with your previous clients on a monthly basis to see if you can be of additional help. A simple newsletter is a perfect example.
I could witter on about many different ways to build and market your start-up, but predominantly this post exists to share my personal experiences, and more importantly, impart concepts for you to ponder and deploy whether you’re thinking about taking the leap or recently have.