I see so many people who are battling to find a job or wanting to start a business but do not know where to start. To be quite honest, nobody should be without work, we all have the ability to make money, as long as we are healthy and have some level of education. For some people the thought of starting their own business is quite overwhelming but actually it is not that bad if you just do it step by step. As I am a serial entrepreneur, I have jotted down a few ideas of how I would go about it and hope that this will inspire you to do the same.
WHAT BUSINESS CAN YOU START?
- Think about your hobbies or your passion and see if there is something you can turn into a product or service to offer others – art, sewing, knitting – you can make and sell or teach others to do what you are good at.
- Find opportunities out of your own needs – sometimes the best ideas come from a solution to a personal need – like me creating a diary that could manage everything that happens in my own day as well as my family’s commitments, because I have always worked or run my own business while bringing up my 4 kids.
- What are you good at or what do you already know how to do. bookkeeping, HR, web design, etc.
- If you prefer something more structured, there are a whole host of multi-level marketing opportunities out there. These are tried and tested systems, with training, products and loads of support that come as part of the package. We tend to balk at these, but they are genuine opportunities with great earning potential.
- Whatever you decide to do, before you put any money into it, speak to others about your idea, do some market research. There are loads of people on Facebook who are more than happy to give feedback if you ask for it. Make sure that your idea is viable and that it is something that others would want.
COSTING, CASH FLOW PROJECTIONS AND START UP CAPITAL
- Once you have decided what it is that you want to do, you need to work out how much money you can make. For products, do your costing, mark-ups and work out how many units you would need to sell in order to make the amount of money you need to make. For a service, decide what you want to charge and how many hours you would need to work. For multi-level marketing type businesses, all that information is already available to you.
- Spreadsheets are a great resource. Excel is an easy program to use, it is readily available to anyone who owns a computer and the formulas are extremely helpful.
- Do a cash flow projection for the next 2 years i.e. how much money do you project will come in and how much will go out each month. It helps you to see how much capital you need to start your business, when you will break even and make a profit.
- Once you know how much you need, you will have to decide whether to take a loan from a bank or family, use a credit card or overdraft or use your savings – this is an investment into your future and most businesses will require some sort of capital outlay.
- Try and keep your initial investment as low as possible, start small and grow over time.
SETTING UP YOUR BUSINESS
- The better your planning and systems to start off with, the more smoothly your business will run in the future and the less time you will spend putting out fires.
- Formally register your business with CIPC – depending on how big you want to grow and whether you want to sell your business one day, it is often better to keep you and your business as separate entities.
- Branding – this is what you are putting out there, it is your “shop front” and probably the most important thing to get right when you start.
- SARS registrations – get your SARS registrations done and make sure that you stay up to date with your returns and payments.
- Keep good track of your finances – you could either use a formal bookkeeping system or keep records on Excel.
- Work out your marketing strategy for the next couple of months. In this day and age of technology and social media, there are so many marketing opportunities, without having to spend a fortune.
- When planning any section of my business, I do mind maps. I start off by writing the main topic in the middle of the page e.g. MARKETING and then write all the different ideas around the page e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Website, Blog, Pinterest, Trades with others, People I could approach, etc. Then under each one, I write ideas. I love using different colours and shapes to do this.
The reason most of us start a business from home is so that we can have more time with our families and for ourselves. So often what happens, is our business starts taking over our lives and keeping us busier than a regular job. Always remember the reason you started working for yourself and when you find that you are moving away from living that dream, relook at how you are doing things, I speak from experience on this, it has taken me years of working long long hours to realise that this is absolutely not necessary.