What an exciting thought, starting up your own business, but before you spend anything take the time to check whether it is likely to be viable or not.
We have ourselves over 20 years’ experience running small businesses in Sussex and we would like to share our knowledge with you:
- Is there a demand for what you do in your area?
- How many competitors do you have in your area and how well are they doing?
- What could you do that beats what your competitors are doing?
- Find out what your competitors are charging to see whether it would meet your needs.
- Could you potentially partner up with a business offering a complimentary service?
- Talk to other businesses to ask their opinion.
- Start attending networking meetings to help with research. Don’t be afraid to ask.
Do some keyword and competitor research to help you. There are lots of resources, but I recommend the keyword tool from Google Adwords, which gives you the search volume of keywords that you would like to be found for.
Start to build up a network of contacts to get the message out there. I have used Linkedin for many years and it is an excellent way to do this. My own account has 500+ connections and I get business from it for both my CV writing and marketing services. I also use it as a tool to promote my blog, which I add to on a weekly basis and attracts 100s of visitors. Once you have started a profile on Linkedin, you might be surprised to find others you know already on there.
It is possible to start a new business on a shoestring, however you will need to promote yourself and this takes time and money, unless you are just starting off in a very small way, with the intention of building it up slowly.
You will need a good, optimised website, particularly if you don’t have a shop front that is visible to the public. Even if you’re business is on the High Street you’re still missing out if you don’t have a website too, as around 95% of searches for products and services are conducted online.
Many businesses use Facebook alone as their website. By all means use it, but it should be part of the marketing mix, not stand alone.
There are lots of ‘free’ or very cheap basic diy website providers online, but take care that it looks professional otherwise it won’t encourage people to buy from you. Also often these diy websites don’t offer SEO either, which is as important as having a good website. What’s the point of having a good website if people still can’t find you online!
Seize Every Opportunity!
If you decide you want to go ahead with your business, I would advise having some business cards produced and carry them with you everywhere. You never know who you might meet! You never know what opportunities are just around the corner.
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