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Five big things to consider when thinking about starting a business

Published on Business stage: Starting, Thinking

Starting and growing a business should be exciting, but it goes without saying there’s a lot of hard work involved and a lot to think about. Although people often set up businesses to pursue a passion of theirs, they typically have to do tasks in different areas of the business where they might not have expertise.

Of course, every business is different and there are countless things to think about before, during and after you get a business up and running. Here, we look at five of the most important considerations.

Market research

Before you do anything else, you need to work out if your business idea is viable. Market research can vary in scope and level of detail, but fundamentally it’s about establishing what market there is for your offer. The main things to learn from market research are:

  • How big the market is
  • What competition there is in the market
  • How any competition compares to you
  • What the typical persona of your target customer is

Survey company Typeform outlines eight different types of market research, with guidance on how to carry out each one (not all of which you would carry out before setting up a business):

  • Brand research – Identifying effective visual and narrative elements to represent a business
  • Campaign effectiveness – Understanding how well marketing is reaching target audiences
  • Competitive analysis – Assessing the strengths and weaknesses of competitors
  • Consumer insights – Understand what your customers are like and how they behave
  • Customer satisfaction research – Measuring customers’ experiences of your offer
  • Customer segmentation research – Grouping similar types of customers into groups for targeting=
  • Product development – Using customer insights to inform the development of your offer
  • Usability testing – Understanding how customers use your offer

Strategy

Once you have a good understanding of your market, you can begin planning how to approach it. Bplans, a website aimed at helping entrepreneurs start and run better businesses, provides a comprehensive guide to what a strategy should include and how to create one, but the main elements are:

  • Define your business and vision
  • Write down your goals
  • Understand your customer
  • Learn from your competition
  • Finance matters
  • Identify your marketing strategy

Finance

Naturally, where finance is concerned, the main thing to have a clear idea of is how a business will make money and how much it will make. Setting a pricing model and estimating profits can both be informed by market research, with factors like demand and competitor pricing coming into play.

But there is another element of finance that needs consideration when starting a business and that’s funding. While it may be the case that a business can be grown organically without any funding required to help it do so, many businesses need funding of one sort or other to accelerate their growth or simply to get them of the ground.

In an article from Start Up Donut, Jonathan Amponsah, CEO of The Tax Guys, outlines 10 options for funding a small business:

  • Family and friends
  • Bank loans
  • Crowdfunding
  • Business angels
  • Venture capitalists
  • Short-term loans
  • Guaranteed loans
  • Incubators and accelerators
  • Research and development grants
  • SEIS and EIS

Different types of funding are suited to different businesses, so it’s important to research each option thoroughly and to understand the pros and cons. The Local Growth Hub lists funding available to businesses in the Liverpool City Region.

Support

Of course, money alone isn’t always what’s needed. For people starting businesses, help and guidance in the form of business support can often be more valuable. Business support varies considerably in terms of what is on offer, what is required from businesses to access it and what time commitment is involved, so it’s important that businesses assess what sort of support they need in to get the most out of it.

Fortunately, there are a number of places that businesses in the UK can research and look for support, including:

Businesses in the Liverpool City Region can find support programmes that are available to them listed on the Local Growth Hub website or talk to our team members in Liverpool, Halton, Knowsley, Sefton, St Helens, and Wirral for advice and guidance about accessing support.

Marketing & PR

Last but not least, how you communicate about a business to its target audiences is crucial to its success, but too often startup businesses take an unplanned, scattergun approach to comms. By developing an understanding of typical customer personas through market research, you can start to plan where, when and how to target your marketing and PR activities.

Taking social media as an example, Facebook is generally more suitable for consumer-focused businesses, while LinkedIn can be more effective for B2B businesses. By studying and continuously updating your customer personas, which you can create online, you can ensure your comms are well targeted, while your comms budget will determine what volume of activity you can deliver.

Speak to us

If you’re not sure what sort of help you need, get in touch and we’ll help you work things out.

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