Step 1: Let's begin...
The beginning is a good place to start I think... This may sound silly, but many neglect the importance of the start, and I think that's perhaps why 86% of startup businesses fail in the first year... Every year, almost 500,000 people take the plunge and start their own business and only 60,000 make it. My aim is to help you be in that 60,000. I want you to succeed so that you can tell others about me and what I have to offer through my company - That's my success!
So let's begin... You probably wouldn't turn up at an airport without first of all preparing where it is you want to go, working out the best journey and booking the right ticket, just as you wouldn't start a business without knowing what that business really is.
So the first thing I want you to do is put pen to paper and answer the following questions. These questions are designed to quiz your unconscious mind and the answers can be useful when you are asked "What is your business anyway?":
1. What specifically is your business?
2. Who specifically is your business for?
3. What products and services are you going to offer?
4. What evidence do you have to show that people need & want this?
5. Who are your competitors?
6. What is the price?
7. What is your first target?
8. Where are you now in relation to achieving this target?
9. When will you have achieved this target?
10. What will this business allow you to do?
11. What resources are needed?
12. Is your business ecological for you, your family and the world?
Step 2: The Disney Pattern...
Walt Disney was an American inspiration, not only for his film productions and animations, but also for his vision and entrepreneurialism. Disney had a great all-purpose strategy for creative thinking and I have found it amazingly effective when planning any new business. I like to dream of big things when it comes to my businesses, and sometimes this can result in me missing the small details that could throw my plans into turmoil. The following Disney strategy was modelled by Robert Dilts, a popular NLP trainer in America, and has saved me from dreaming big and neglecting reality. Go through the following steps by yourself or with a friend before you move on to the next stage of your business preparation.
Think of your potential business. The Disney strategy works well for any situation where you need to come up with a specific plan.
Choose 3 different spaces on the floor for you to move to and give each space one of the following labels:
Space 1: The Dreamer
Space 2: The Realist
Space 3: The Critic
Start by standing in the Dreamer position.
This is where you create possibilities. Here you are a visionary, seeing the big picture. Be creative without restraint. The dreamer position mostly uses the visual representation system. Ask yourself, 'What do I want?' 'What would it look like?' Write down your thoughts.
Shake those thoughts off by shaking your body or jumping up and down.
Then, move into the Realist position.
This is where you organise your plans, evaluate what is realistically possible, think constructively and devise a step-by-step action plan. The realist position mostly uses the kinesthetic (feelings) representation system. Ask yourself 'What will I do to make these plans a reality?', 'How will it feel?'
Shake those thoughts off by shaking your body or jumping up and down.
Finally, move to the Critic position.
This is the position where you test your plan. You are looking for problems, difficulties and unintended consequences. Think of what could go wrong, what is missing and what the payoffs will be. The critic position mostly uses the auditory representation system or your own internal dialogue. Ask yourself "What could go wrong?"
Step 3: Doing the necessaries
You should now have a list of answers to my questions, and have three different view points on your business from the Disney pattern. With these in place, I think you should be ready to do one of two things:
Go through the final checks below, then if you are sure you want to start your own business, carry on to the next stage.
Go back to your day job. It's better to know now whether your business is going to fulfil your dreams or not. Ploughing in lot's of money into a business that will never succeed is a fools game. If you have doubts at this stage, call us. We are here to help and will offer our honest advice - running your own business isn't an easy option and sometimes it's just not worth it. Make sure at this point that you have the drive, determination and the right mindset to take the plunge. Once you do, there's no going back - the rewards are too great...
Take half an hour to visit Companies House (type this into Google) and have a good look around. There are a number of ways to set up a company. You can set up as a 'sole trader', form a 'partnership', open a 'limited company' or even become a 'Franchisee'. We offer advice to our members, or you can call Companies House and they will be able to help.
Find the right Accountant. Again, we offer accountancy services through our partner companies to our members, or you can check out icaew (type this into Google) to find a list of Chartered Accountants. My advice would be to get a good accountant and by good, I don't necessarily mean the most expensive, but a good accountant should be able to save you more money on expenses and tax than you pay to them. They will also help you in running an ethical business and set you on your path to business enlightenment.
If you are looking for Finance. Visit the Princes Trust. They also offer advice and support for young people looking to create business.
Check out the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). They have over 185,000 members and can help with all sorts of contracts, legal issues, banking arrangements etc.
The government also runs a Business Link in England and the equivalent in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. They have a great website with lots of resources (type this into Google)
For a free intellectual property resources centre visit own-it. (type this into Google)
For free legal guidance and help visit freelawyer (type this into Google) or for Internet law in UK visit weblaw (type this into Google)
If you have made it to this page, I'm guessing you're up for the challenge of creating business for yourself... You have chosen a challenging path, but one that is so rewarding and freeing too. I've been in business since I was 9 years old, and it's all I have ever wanted to do. I tried working for others, but to be honest, I wasn't very good at it, and since creating businesses in my 20's & 30's, I'll never go back to working for someone else. The rewards, both financially and for my lifestyle are far too great.
So now that we have our business in mind, what is it going to be called?
Step 4: Creating your name...
Most new business owners spend a great deal of time thinking of catchy names for their businesses. I remember hearing about Greg Steven's who set up his business selling sofas and furniture. He was a huge Elvis fan and called himself 'The King'. After some debate, he decided to call himself 'The Sofa King'. On his vans he had 'We are Sofa King Great' printed. Read out-loud, the catch phrase can raise some eyebrows but it manages to stick in your memory - and that's what branding is all about...
So I'm going to make this chapter easy for you... Unless you are prepared to go as far as Greg to attract your customers, I recommend calling your company name 'You'... You are your business and your personal branding lets you control how other people perceive you. That's far more powerful than calling yourself 'Living Inspiration' or 'The Creative Life Company' like everyone else in business. My only exception to this rule is if you are setting up a membership organisation. You are usually selling a collection of people and benefits through a membership organisation. Outside of this though, your clients will choose you, not because you have a cool business card or snazzy office, but because something about you engenders trust and makes them decide to do business with you. People buy from people, not businesses... Personal branding is without doubt the most powerful way to get your name out there and it won't cost you anywhere near as much as trying to market a large company name. Start branding and marketing you, not a company you work for. For further details, I can really recommend a book by a guy called 'Peter Montoya' - It's called 'The Brand Called You'.
Step 5: Know who you are...
The Dalai Lama said that "Self-knowledge is a vital stage on the path towards enlightenment..."
I think knowing who you are is essential for your business. People buy from people and every projection you put out there in relation to your business will be received by others. Make sure you are the model of excellence you want in your business.
The following model helps me on my path to learning about myself. I think it's also helpful when thinking about your business. It has been created by Robert Dilts from the work done by Gregory Bateson. I refer to this model on a daily basis to make sure I am aligned on each level both in business and my personal life. To get closer to becoming an Enlightened Entrepreneur, you should have alignment and congruency on each of the levels starting with your environment...
Level 1: Your Environment
Level 2: Your Behaviour
Level 3: Your Skills & Capabilities
Level 4: Your Values & Beliefs
Level 5: Your Identity
Level 6: Your purpose & connection to the planet
As you get down the levels, you get closer to finding who you really are and at the very end, beyond who you are, you find your purpose in life and what connection you have to the world.
An all important question to ask yourself before you go into business is: Who am I when the lights are off?
If your answer is different to when the lights are on, or when you are selling, when you are with your family, when you are with friends or when you are alone, then you will have some misalignment on one of the different levels.
Check in with each level and ask yourself the following questions:
Environment: The where & when. Are you in the right place? Is this the right time? Who else is involved and effected by your business?
Behaviour: The what. What do you do? What thoughts and actions do you have in relation to your business plans? If you saw your behaviours from the outside, would they be aligned to the behaviours you would like to see from someone running your business?
Skills & Capabilities: The how. What skills do you have and need? How will you achieve your dreams? How will you move from employee to entrepreneur?
Beliefs & values: The why. Why is this business important to you? What do you believe about yourself? What do you value about this business? Why bother?
Identity: The who. Who are you? Who arn't you? Who is your business? Who do you want to be?
Purpose: Beyond Identity. What is your purpose on this planet? What is beyond you and your business? What is your highest intention of building this business?
If you have got this far, you should feel confident in what you are offering, and once you have registered your name, found your accountant and completed all of the logistical tasks associated to your business, you are all ready to start. The next stage is to work out who you are selling your products & services too. If you know what you're selling and who too, you are 90% of the way there...
Step 6: Finding you Niche
If you don't find a niche market the news is not good for your business. In fact, I would go as far as to say "find a niche within a niche". A niche market is composed of individuals and businesses that have similar interests and needs, which can be readily identified and that can be easily targeted and reached.
Finding a niche for your business means finding a great product or service for a highly targeted audience.
Let's imagine that you are an accountant (and you might be...). If you were interested in business coaching and went onto the internet to find a service provider, would you book with;
1. A fully qualified coach?
2. A fully qualified coach who specialises in helping accountants?
I think I've made my point. Most businesses don't niche small enough and try to be the 'jack of all trades'. I promise you, this strategy does not work.
By niching, and then niching again, you have the following advantages over your competition:
• You become specialised in your area and are therefore seen as 'The Expert' in what you do.
• The tighter the niche, the easier it is to find your clients - you know exactly who they are and therefore where they hang out.
• You will more than halve your marketing spend because you can target your marketing to specific campaigns in specific publications/websites etc.
• You will halve your competition
• You know exactly who to survey to find out exactly what they want before you produce any product or service.
Always ask your customers what they want before you produce any product or service. Many businesses create products and services that they think their clients want, without ever actually asking the client. Find out what your clients want, then produce it - it's a sure way to make more money.
Step 7: Creating your Steve...
Once you have installed your phone lines and have handed out some business cards, you are likely to receive calls from your local newspapers begging you to advertise with them. I have nothing against advertising in newspapers when it's done properly, but they usually promote their advertising by telling you that they have thousands of readers who will see your advert. The problem often is - those readers aren't interested in your product. I made the mistake of offering a free CD on NLP in the 'Express' newspaper (they had a special promotion on...). The Express goes out to hundreds of thousands of people and I worked out what 1% was and thought this was my likely take-up. I spent the whole day on the phone to people who had no idea what NLP is and asked if I could "just send the CD anyway because I collect free CDs from newspapers"... I wasted hundreds of pounds sending CDs out to clients who will never buy from me, not to mention the cost of my time.
The trick to selling anything is knowing who you are selling to and where they hang out. It also helps if they are actually wanting your product in the first place.
For every business I run now, I design my ideal client. This client is my market - the person I only need to whisper my product to and they will buy it. This means I know who they are, where they shop, what they read, even what they eat...
Let me introduce you to Steve, my ideal client for my business - perhaps he is familiar...
Steve is 30 to 45, married with 2 kids. He earns 35K to 45K and is fed up with his current work situation. He enjoys the company of his work colleages but the job doesn't satisfy him anymore. He wants to work with his partner and has often thought about setting up his own business - perhaps his partner can join him later. He likes to holiday every year and enjoys watching Channel 4, E4 and BBC news. He likes reading magazines including GQ, Mens Health and the occasional book on business and personal development. Steve enjoys surfing the web for personal development, watched YouTube and TED.com. He likes to shop in Sainsburys and occasionally, when he's feeling flush, in Marks and Spencer. Somewhere inside Steve, he believes he can make it on his own and if the right opportunity comes along, he's got the guts to do it...
I feel like I know Steve like my best friend. Steve also has a female version 'Stevetta' and I target my writing, advertising, products and in fact my whole business to meet Steve and Stevetta's needs...
Now not every client is Steve or Stevetta. Some don't match their profile at all and that's OK. I don't turn people away if they don't behave like Steve, but it makes it so easy for me to know where to find my clients and focuses my mind on what I can offer to him...
Once you have your Steve, or Stevetta (or whatever you decide to call them), you know who you are marketing & selling too, you know where to find them. You can begin to create your websites, marketing and even your business cards as if you are producing them for your Steve or Stevetta. By now you should also know who you are in relation to your business, you know what your purpose is on this planet and what your business outcomes are. I think it's time for you now to take the path to becoming a enlightened entrepreneur.
You will now be able to tick off the 7 essential steps to starting your business. I hope this guide has been useful to you. Most businesses never think of these steps and I think that they are so important. You're ahead of your competitors already.
Check off the following list and feel confident in your abilities as a entrepreneur - you are 90% of the way to being successful, the rest we can put down to on the spot learning... Good luck!
Step 1: I am clear about my outcome
Step 2: I passed the Disney test
Step 3: I've done the necessaries
Step 4: I've got my business name
Step 5: I know who I am and what my purpose in life is
Step 6: I've niched, and niched again
Step 7: I've got my Steve
Helping you move from employee to entrepreneur...
The Employee To Entrepreneur University was founded to support remarkable men and women with dreams to run their own rewarding and successful businesses and provide the support to actually make it happen.
"Through monthly meetings, courses, coaching and business boosting retreats we have created a support network that eliminates the reasons most small businesses fail. In addition, we've created a culture of individuals that play life at the top."
This is not a 'earn £1million in 1 month' type of organisation. We are here to help you build your business and help that business support your lifestyle forever. Join us in creating the life that you have always wanted through the business you have always dreamed of.
By Toby McCartney for The Employee to Entrepreneur University eeuni.com