Author: Andy Brownsell, Commercial Director, Protectivity
24 Apr 2018
The idea of founding a start-up is an exciting and exhilarating prospect but, in order to succeed, it’s critical that you’re as prepared as possible and have the determination to endure the unpredictable journey it will take you on.
Whether you’re starting a dog-walking business or creating an app to help consumers manage their finances, these five steps will help guide you on your journey to success:
Know your market inside out
Before you start working on a business plan, it’s crucial you spend ample time researching your industry and the product or service you’re going to be offering to the market. To ensure your skills can meet and compete with industry requirements, enrol on training courses to enhance your business acumen – this will also help boost your confidence as a new business owner.
It’s crucial you spend ample time researching your industry and the product or service you’re going to be offering to the market
When studying your market and competitors, you may see an opportunity for your business to thrive in a different city or country. For example, Berlin was a magnet for founders in 2017, with investments in newly-launched companies jumping 88 percent to €4.3bn.
Create a strategy that is guaranteed to attract investors
Attracting investment from bank managers and other third parties is a key step to making your start-up a success. It’s vital, therefore, that you have a trustworthy, concise and transparent business plan in place before you approach any potential investors. In 2016, European start-ups received €36bn in funding – if you want some of this for your own start-up, you’ll need a concrete strategy to convince investors your business is the one for them.
As you begin to create your business plan, you should be able to confidently answer questions on your competitors and how to stand out in your industry. You’ll also need to be able to answer questions on where your business will be operating, where it will be in the next five, 10, 15 years and, finally, how many employees you will need and for what roles specifically.
Financial planning and budgeting are critical to the survival of a new business so, as a baseline, you should be prepared for a minimum of one year. But don’t fail to keep extra cash aside for any unexpected expenses, such as purchasing new insurance or equipment.
Listen to your customers
Your customers are what will make your business a success, so listen to them and their thoughts via market research. While 89.5 percent of start-ups consider their products to be novel, Fortune revealed the number one reason new businesses fail is a lack of need for their products or services in the marketplace.
You may hope that your idea is just what the market wants, but really listen to what your audience is saying; if they have said they aren’t interested, it’s simply not worth wasting your time and resources trying to convince them otherwise.
Attend events as much as possible to spot trends in the industry and find out where it’s heading in the future.
Seek advice from mentors and peers
Currently, three out of every four start-ups in Europe are founded independently – but this doesn’t mean you’re alone in launching your own start-up. With millions of businesses operating across Europe, there are numerous business people that have been in your position who are likely to have a wealth of advice about starting a new business and being your own boss for the first time.
Really listen to what your audience is saying; if they have said they aren’t interested, it’s not worth wasting your time and resources
Whether it’s from a professional, a friend, a family member or a colleague, learning from other people’s experiences and mistakes – particularly those working in your industry – will help prepare you for similar challenges as you get ready to launch your new business.
It’s also beneficial to seek advice from legal professionals, who will guide you through any legalities you need to have ironed out in order to run your business. Further, browse government sites to confirm any processes that you’re unsure about, as each country within Europe has different regulations and requirements.
Perseverance is the key to success
With 26 million enterprises actively operating in Europe, you need to find a way to stand out and remain relevant. In order to do this, you need to have effective promotion tactics and techniques in place to support your business growth, both online and offline.
Being active on social media, networking with your followers and engaging with industry news is a great way to get noticed by potential customers and clients. That said, don’t underestimate the power of more traditional techniques, such as word-of-mouth promotion.
As a business owner, you should continually be on the lookout for any opportunity to start a conversation about your services, such as attending local business networking groups or speaking at industry conferences.
The final tip is to keep going. With just 40 percent of small businesses surviving their first five years, it’s important you remain focused, keep your business plan updated and constantly seek ways to improve yourself as a business owner, as well as the services you’re offering.