Starting your own business is an exciting, if somewhat daunting prospect, but increasing numbers of people all across Europe are embracing the idea of working for themselves. If you’ve ever wondered about whether you have the entrepreneurial spirit, don’t be put off by feeling you don’t know enough, or you aren’t experienced enough, or you’re lacking the capital to get started.
The crucial quality you’ll need as an entrepreneur is your drive and commitment to succeed. Everything else can be acquired, through hard work and determination. So if you have an idea for a business, go through these steps to see what you need to get yourself off on the right foot.
This is often the barrier that prospective entrepreneurs find most difficult to overcome. If you’ve been in a well-paid job and have managed to save over the years, or if you have inheritance, redundancy, or investment profits you may be in a position to finance yourself without looking for any external help. However, most people will have limited personal finance to fall back on, and thus will need to look for investment via a bank, credit broker or private investor.
Your success in securing investment will depend in the first instance on your money management history. If you have a poor personal credit rating or little history, you need to work on rebuilding your score by being meticulous with your spending and repayments. Credit card use needs to be consistent and repayments above the minimum need to be made to boost your credit score. Not using a credit card won’t boost your ratings, it’s being able to demonstrate your ability to repay that will have the greatest effect. You can find a wealth of useful information online about your options for credit, loans and improving your credit score, so follow the advice given to get your financial history looking sound.
There has been a big growth in recent years in the area of crowdfunding, and this could be a good alternative if you are having difficulty with more traditional forms of investment. You will still need a sound business plan, that you can use to show investors how your business will work, what their money would be used for and how much they can expect to make. You will also need to be able to market your idea and make it stand out from the many other projects featured on crowd-funding platforms. It’s a good idea to make a point of selling yourself as well as your business idea, because many of the people looking to invest will just be ordinary citizens, and they will find your story far more engaging than a dry, business-focused presentation. You’ll only receive your funding if you reach the target number of pledges, so it’s basically all or nothing. That means you will stand a better chance of successfully securing your funding if you are realistic about the amount you are asking for, and avoid being too greedy.
Your key tool will be your business plan, which is the document in which you record all your planning, projections, justifications, research, and operational plans. The plan needs to be comprehensive but not overblown – lay out the facts and evidence for your proposal without being overly verbose with your writing. You don’t want the important bits buried amongst a lot of unnecessary waffle that will put readers off. There are plenty of free resources available online, or paid services if you don’t feel confident in your own abilities. Make use of all the tools you can find that will help you in both composition and presentation, to produce a professional and effective plan. You will also need to include a marketing strategy section that describes exactly how you intend to promote your business across the most relevant platforms. Make sure you understand how each element of marketing works and demonstrate how you will use platforms like your website and social media to best effect. Your budget will need to be thoroughly researched to ensure you have used the most accurate figures to base your projections on, as one flaw in your calculations will render the whole plan unsound. Use an accountancy service to help you with the more difficult financial calculations, and take their advice on how to construct and calculate your figures for your budget.
Knowledge and experience
As well as money, you’ll need knowledge. Many entrepreneurs start out with little or no experience, so don’t feel you won’t succeed unless you have a degree or years of experience working in your sector. It might be harder in some respects, because you will have far more to learn; however, you could find that you have an abundance of fresh thinking and new ideas that you can bring to the table. This can sometimes be revolutionary, because you haven’t been brainwashed into seeing things in a certain, corporate way. Obviously, you will need to make an effort to learn as much as you can as you go, and you may make more mistakes to start with, but you will learn a great deal from these mistakes that will make you a far better business owner in the long run.
If you lack bookkeeping skills, or don’t know how to optimize your website’s search engine rankings, there are plenty of courses that you can take to acquire these skills. Or you could simply outsource the areas you aren’t an expert in, and learn enough to make sure these elements are being effectively managed.
Starting your own business will involve plenty of effort, an unshakeable belief in yourself and what you are doing, and the strength of will to keep going when times are tough and the hours are long. If you have these qualities, then there’s no reason you can’t become an entrepreneur, as these are the essential foundations that all successful business owners share. Many of the most successful names in business started with little more than the essential qualities of an entrepreneur, acquiring knowledge, experience and investment along the way. If they can do it, so can you!