How to build a successful business

Starting your own business can be very rewarding, especially if you are looking to strike a better work-life balance. From developing a business plan to networking with experts in the industry, there is much to consider before embarking on this journey.

Amanda Johnson, a former Royal Navy Logistics Officer, can provide valuable insights into of starting a business and shares how she transformed her life when she decided to invest in herself.

“I wanted a better work-life balance. By that I’m saying I no longer wanted to go away for extended periods of time.” Becoming an entrepreneur, she explains, allows her to adjust her work hours to make time for her family.

If you are thinking of starting a business, here are some steps you can follow to help you get started.

Develop your idea

Every new business venture begins with an idea. Ask yourself whether there’s something you’re very well-informed or passionate about. Additionally, you could identify gaps in the market and build on that. This technique worked for Amanda, who’s business idea came to her when she could never get hold of the tradesmen working on her house and realised they needed affordable, ‘pay as you go’ administration.

Once you know where your interest lies, you can work on a realistic idea to turn into a product or service.

Research the industry

Becoming familiar with your chosen industry is a vital step in building your own business. With increasing developments in technology and the internet, there are no bounds to the amount of information available to you. Research companies in your chosen industry to get a better idea of what brands are doing and whether you can do something more innovative. This process helps you understand whether your business can deliver something other companies don’t offer or deliver the same thing more efficiently.

Build a business plan

Once you have your idea in place and you’ve researched the industry, it’s time to create a business plan. There are a few important questions you should ask yourself before you do. . What is the purpose of my business? Who is my target audience – who am I selling to? All of these questions can be addressed in a detailed business plan.

Amanda emphasises that a business plan should be reviewed regularly. It will require updating as and when you gain new information or change direction.

Some key aspects of a good business plan:

  • An executive summary – outline what your business is about and how you will accomplish your goals
  • A company description – what makes the company unique?
  • A market analysis – what is the competition and your target demographics?
  • A description of the service or product line
  • The marketing and sales strategy
  • Budget plan

Network

Networking is about building relationships. It involves connecting with professionals in your chosen industry to gain insights, as well as to generate leads.

Networking is also about building a credible social media presence. LinkedIn is the ideal choice for creating a professional profile and getting in touch with like-minded professionals.

Amanda cautions that it can take about six months of networking to see actual results; although she got her first client two months in, it took her a while longer to develop a client list that proved to be productive and lucrative.

Financial projections

Some helpful questions to ask yourself when planning your budget are: What is the source of your finances? What are your expected sales? How are you going to get those sales?

Most entrepreneurs will agree that it’s wise to have some money saved up before venturing out on your own. If your new business is going to be a full-time effort, you need to have the means to sustain yourself for the first few months.

Set up proper accounting and bookkeeping and hire an accountant if you need additional help with tax advice.

Marketing and branding

Your company needs to have an image that is unique and resonates with your core values. Create business cards, a letterhead and email signatures with your company logo and brand colours.

An online presence is key. Decide which of the social media channels works best for your business and create a profile for each one.