6 important things to consider when starting a new business

Michelle Murdoch, on behalf of QMS International plc

We all know that starting a new business can be challenging and that every business is unique with its own specific needs that must be met. However, by considering the following guidelines you will be off to a great start!

1.) Have You Established Your Unique Selling Point?

Depending on the industry and products/services you have on offer there is always a varying degree of differentiation possible. Some products, such as cars, offer a lot of potential for differentiation between makes and models, whereas products like building material have a much lower potential. No matter how big or small the differentiation is, it is still important to find out what it is because this will form your unique selling point (USP) - the secret ingredient that will make you stand out from all of your competitors.

2.) Do You Have A Business Plan?

A business plan is a great tool for assessing and managing your business. It is vital for any successful business to have a robust business plan in place because it creates focus, direction, impresses key people of influence and is the guide to your future. A good business plan should be written for its audience, for instance if the business plan is an internal document designed to keep the performance and growth of your company on track, then it should emphasize internal information which will assist that. However if the business plan is required as an external document, then you need to write about your business in a more attractive way that will get the attention of those important investors.

3.) Are You Organised With Good Record Keeping Skills?

Organisation is key when it comes to completing tasks; it makes the process easier and helps you to stay on top of things. Keeping a record of things as your business grows will also make running your business easier; it will give you insight into your clients, where the business stands financially and what potential challenges you face. Having this information available gives you time to create strategies which will help you to overcome any obstacles that could potentially restrict business growth.

4.) Do You Understand Your Competition?

Every successful business plan should include information on competitor analysis, producing a competitor analysis is your chance to look closely at your market sector, what your competition are doing and why. This analysis provides you with both an offensive and defensive strategic perspective that will help you to identify market opportunities and threats. If your competition is small, local or private you may need to spend some time gathering this information by calling your competition, speaking to their clients, purchasing credit/background reports or searching through directories like the yellow pages.

5.) Will You Value Your Customers?

Customers are a company’s most valuable asset, without them your business quite simply would not exist. When you satisfy your customer’s needs and exceed their expectations, they will not only continue to do business with you, but they will also recommend your company to friends and associates – generating sales, without the marketing costs. Rewarding customers through incentives and completing customer satisfaction surveys are great ways to monitor your customers and enhance the likelihood of them making even more referrals.

6.) Have You Considered Gaining Any Recognised Industry Awards?

With your business plan in place but no industry experience, getting investors and being noticed remain significant challenges. That’s where industry awards, like ISO 9001, can help. ISO 9001 is the internationally recognised benchmark of business quality. Gaining reputable certification like this will help you to demonstrate the quality of your organisation as well as its products/services, giving you a competitive advantage which will help you to compete alongside more experienced organisation and blue-chip companies.

Starting your own business has many benefits, but bear in mind that not all new businesses succeed - that is why it is essential to always learn from your mistakes. If you are still considering whether starting your own business is right for you, you should assess your strengths and weaknesses, determine your costs and clearly outline your business goals.

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