Five steps to starting a business

So you have a business idea? Here are quick steps to help you make it a reality.

1. Research

Having a business idea is great, but you need to do some research to see if it fits in the real world.

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To validate your dream, you need to answer a few questions for starters; will your business solve a problem, fulfill a need or offer something the market wants?

Research can employ simple techniques such as using focus groups, trial and error, or just basic studying and engaging other business owners in the field you want to venture into.

You will also need to find out what permits and licenses you are required to have for the business.

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For the business to thrive however, this step needs to be followed all through. Once the business is set up, you need to keep researching to know what the latest trends are and how to incorporate them, study the competition … evolve.

2. Make a plan

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Once you have finished your research and validated the business idea. You need to come up with a strategy on how the business will run. You also need to plan financially.

A business plan is a blueprint that will guide your business from the start-up phase through establishment and eventually business growth – you need this.

The complexity of the plan will depend on you. However, if you’ll need investors, it should be thorough. There are plenty of templates that can help with this.

3. Money matters  

Starting a business doesn't have to cost a lot of money.

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You will however need some initial investment and capacity to cover ongoing expenses before you start making a profit.

The initial investment entails the one-time startup costs for your business such as licenses and permits, equipment, legal fees, insurance, branding, market research, inventory, trademarking, grand opening events, property leases; and what you anticipate you will need to keep your business running for at least a year like rent, utilities, marketing and advertising, production, supplies, travel expenses, employee salaries, your own salary.

Once you have the figures, you can pick a method to raise the capital whether it’s taking a loan, finding investors and partners, crowdfunding, among others. A combination will help build the fund faster.

You can also choose to go at it alone by bootstrapping – using very little start-up capital or growing your business with minimal investment.  

4. Make it official  

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Name the business! You should ensure that the name you pick is not trademarked or being used by another business.

Once all the checks are done, you can go ahead and register your business.

You should also get the necessary licenses and permits to run the business.

4. Set up shop  

You are now ready to actually set it all up. Find your place of business depending on your idea. For instance, do you need a physical address or can you operate online; or from home?

Once you have that figured out, you need to identify your team. This could be your employees of the people outsource from. Even if you are flying solo, you will need to establish a support system. This could include mentors, friends or family.

5. Promote it

Once your business is up and running, you need to promote it to attract the relevant clients and customers.

Ensure you are not just smiling in the dark. Promotions will help your customers see your business and engage.

You should have a marketing plan and have a budget for it. While you build that up, you can use what is already available to you for instance, social media.

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