Starting your own business gives you freedom and the chance to pursue your passions, but taking the first leap is always difficult. You may know your industry inside out. However, if you’ve never been an entrepreneur before, you have no idea what it’s like to start a business.
The good news is that countless people are in the exact same situation, meaning they have many of the same doubts and concerns as you. Let’s take a look at some of the most common questions people ask about how to start a business. The likelihood is you’re asking yourself many of the same — and if you’re not, you should be!
When Is the Right Time to Start a Business?
There’s no magic age when it’s time to quit your job and launch a startup. Many factors come into play, including:
- Determination to go it alone. Starting a business is not something you should take lightly. Just wanting to free yourself from an overbearing boss is not reason enough.
- Willingness to learn. Even though you’ll bring plenty of skills from your current and past work experience, this is not enough to make your business a success. You’ll need to spend many hours learning about marketing, branding, and negotiating and acquiring countless other skills you never before thought you’d need.
- Readiness to fail. The hard truth is that the vast majority of startups fail — 90 percent, in fact.
- Excellent time management. You’ll need to manage every minute of your time to ensure you’re spending it productively. If you struggle with time management at the moment, you can learn to improve.
Do You Need to Be Creative to Start a Business?
Creativity is not a trait that some people have and others lack — everyone is creative to some extent. However, if you’re at the lower end of the creativity spectrum, you may be concerned that you’ll struggle to come up with business ideas or overcome all the challenges related to starting a business.
One way to compensate for a lack of creativity is to start a franchise. The brand is already established and you’ll have a system to work with. Nonetheless, don’t fall into the trap of thinking this will be an easy business to start. You’ll need to work just as hard to ensure your success and you’ll still need to be passionate about what you’re offering.
What Are the Cheapest Businesses to Start?
How much does it cost to start a business? This depends on the kind of business. Starting a business from home tends to be the most affordable, as there is no rent to pay.
To ensure you can afford the type of business you want to start, it’s worthwhile calculating your startup costs. Make sure you account for any startup business loans or startup business grants you expect to receive.
These are some of the best businesses to start with little money.
All you need to start a lawn care business is a few pieces of equipment and some extra cash to invest in local marketing. This type of business works well as a one-person operation and you can easily scale to have multiple people working for you. The biggest challenge is to keep the business running year round: you’ll need a strategy for the fall and winter, such as offering leaf raking and snow plowing services.
If you already have kids at home, an inexpensive way to gain income is to take care of a few more. In addition to daytime childcare, there’s plenty of demand for babysitting in the evenings, especially at the weekends. This is another business idea that scales well.
For the cost of purchasing ingredients, kitchen equipment, and packaging, along with expenses associated with marketing and setting up an e-commerce store, you can start a homemade food business. This is ideal if you have personal recipes that your friends love and can specialize in gourmet foods that are easy to ship, such as jellies, pickles, or chutneys.
What Are the Most Profitable Types of Startups?
An alternative to looking at low startup costs is to consider the best businesses to start in terms of becoming profitable. Again, many of these are businesses you can start from home.
If you’re passionate about fitness, why not share your enthusiasm with others by becoming a personal trainer? You can offer one-on-one sessions at your clients’ homes or group classes in a public space. Alternatively, consider starting an online business, where you offer sessions over video.
It’s worthwhile qualifying as a personal trainer by taking a certification course before you start offering services. This will show clients that they can trust you to create effective exercise plans.
Virtually everyone uses tech every day, but the majority of people only know the very basics of IT. If you’re the person all your family members turn to whenever they have a tech problem, consider building an IT support business. All you’ll need is some basic tools and perhaps transportation to head to clients’ homes and offices — if you want to offer in-person support rather than a helpline.
Auto Repair Shop
Since repairing vehicles requires specialist knowledge and is something people often require urgently, an auto repair shop gives you the chance to make big profits. Mechanics can make the most money, but learning about basic maintenance and repairs can also pay off big.
If there’s space where you live, you can operate out of your home. Later, though, you’ll probably need to move to a larger location. By this point, you’ll have a loyal customer base and profits to invest.
Repairing vehicles may be too ambitious for you, but you can always offer car wash services. Provide a great service (such as a personalized service for expensive vehicles) and your customers will request you every week or so. A mobile car wash — where you go to your clients instead of them coming to you — can be especially appealing.
What Are the Steps to Creating a Business Model?
Now we’ve explored some startup business ideas, let’s look at how to create a business model. This is one of the first steps to starting a business.
1. Specify What Problem You’re Solving
Every business solves a problem, whether it’s a functional or an emotional problem. It could even be a problem that users are unaware they are facing until you present the solution.
2. Define Your Target Audience
Next, determine who is facing the problem. Come up with three distinct buyer personas — you never want your target audience to be everyone.
3. Work Out How You Will Solve the Problem
You know what problem you want to solve and who you’ll be helping. It’s time to figure out what exactly you should do. Come up with a number of solutions and narrow down to just the top one. This should be something you can implement quickly without great expense. Keep a few of your other ideas in mind to put into action later.
4. Test Your Other Ideas
When you’re ready to scale your business, turn back to those other ideas. Test them and adopt those that work, dismissing any that were less successful than you’d hoped.
How Should You Develop Your Brand?
One of the most challenging aspects of starting a business is developing your brand. This is crucial for ensuring you stand out in the market. Even if you have a franchise, you’ll need to put a personal twist on your business to ensure customers choose you.
1. Develop a Brand Strategy
To start, come up with a brand strategy. This should specify how you will present your mission and values to users through your brand messaging and visual identity.
2. Learn About Your Target Audience
You’ve already defined your buyer personas; now you need to ensure your brand resonates with these customers. It’s a mistake to think your brand can be whatever you want it to be — sometimes, you’ll need to make choices that reflect your customers’ preferences.
3. Make Your Business Unique
Consider how your competitors present themselves and what you can do to differentiate your brand. You may already have an idea of how you can put a spin on a traditional service or product — make sure you express this through your branding. Other options are to be distinct from competitors in your style of marketing or the tone of voice you use to address your audience.
4. Translate Your Ideas into Visuals
Once you have all the above figured out, it’s time to turn your ideas into reality. For the visual side of things, you’ll need to choose a color scheme, design a logo, and pick your typography. You should also create a visual hierarchy for your website and decide on a style for photography, illustrations, and other images.
5. Create a Style Guide to Refer Back To
You’ll be creating elements of your visual branding and your first pieces of web copy now, but you’ll need many more in the future. It’s important to write a style guide that you can refer back to. This should specify qualities of your visuals and the tone of voice you’ll use in your content to maintain a consistent brand image.
Should You Hire a Virtual Assistant?
Successfully running a small business requires a wide array of skills. You may possess many of these skills, but it’s unlikely you possess them all. To fill the gap, outsource the rest. Delegating tasks leaves you free to do work that requires your expertise.
A top option is to get matched with a highly-qualified virtual assistant for entrepreneurs. You can hand off tasks ranging from bookkeeping and research to social media and expense management. This will increase your overall productivity and allow you to scale faster.
If you’re concerned about your creative skills in particular, consider a specialized virtual assistant for graphic design to handle your brand image for you. In addition to creating graphics, the VA will choose your color palette, create web assets, design your social media content, and use a variety of other methods to express your identity.