The secrets of survival

Involving those around you from an early a stage in the process as possible is important, says the Institute of Directors. Support from those close to you will be vital in the early stages of developing a business, as they will be the ones affected by long working hours and stressful situations. Acting as a sounding board, these people could be a useful resource for providing help with routine tasks.
Understanding whether you are the right person to take on the running of a small business is also a vital step in the due diligence process. You won’t have the safety net of working for a large organisation and issues such as financial insecurity, stress and long working hours may not suit you as a person. Carefully assess the reasons why you want to strike out on your own.
The business needs to survive from day one, so make sure the product or service being touted is a must-have and not a nice-to-have. Many people opt to begin a small business by using a skill they have acquired in their spare time as a hobby, but consideration should be given to whether it will be a viable proposition to take to market.
Detailed plan
Business Gateway suggests that anyone embarking on a business venture, whether experienced or not, should always develop a detailed business plan, including route to market, projected costs and profits and anticipated customer base.
From an early stage in the process of developing an idea for a business, a unique differentiator will make all the difference. Even if an idea has been tried out before by including a different feature or benefit, the product or service may appeal to a different audience. Daring to be different may just pay dividends in the long term.
Researching the marketplace is a key factor to success. Knowing your competitors and the size of the market will provide an indicator of whether the time and concept is right for such a business to be launched. Sounding out potential customers, suppliers and distributors will elicit a wide range of information.
Ian Girot of Clydesdale Bank’s small business start-up team says: “People looking to banks for financial support in setting up a business will need to have done their homework in respect of convincing the lender that the idea is a viable one.”
Research research research
Rather than taking the plunge and risking everything by striking out in business before all the necessary preparations are taken care of, consideration might be given to using spare time to carry out research into the idea while still employed. In this respect, there is an element of security, but one that might prove too comfortable for those not putting 100 per cent effort into the new venture.
Asking for help is not a weakness but a sign of strength of purpose. Acknowledging that you cannot do everything involved in a start-up will ensure that you can focus on the job in hand of developing the business.
Seeking advice from others who already manage their own businesses is invaluable and rather than having to pay for advice, consider offering equity in the new business.
Planning, planning and planning is so important to the success of a business. This is not just to convince your backers that the idea for your venture is sound, but also to ensure that there is a course of action to follow and which can be altered if things go wrong.