Your Business With James Caan 2017 - 23
he ﬁgures speak for themselves:
in a survey of 1,000 would-be
entrepreneurs, 39% said they thought
about starting a business every day,
but 78% said they were afraid they'd
fail. Starting up takes every bit of drive
and determination to make it happen.
I always say success is a journey, not
a destination. And failure? Well, that's
just part of that journey. But if you're
planning to start a business, there are
a few things you should know to help
smooth the way ahead.
PHOTOGRAPHY: WILL IRELAND, SHUTTERSTOCK
It's only natural to want to devote
your time to growing your customer
base or getting your product out on to
the market. But if you don't get your
legal, accounting and tax ducks in a
row, they can end up taking up an
inordinate amount of time and sapping
your cash just when you need it most.
Take time to choose the legal entity
through which you'll operate your
business. You need to understand the
personal legal liability aspects, and the
ﬁling and tax requirements of your
chosen company vehicle.
The annual tax return has been
abolished in favour of real-time online
accounting. Spend some of the saved
time thinking about whether you
need to register for VAT. Remember,
though, that you still need to take
care not to miss registration or ﬁling
deadlines and payment dates. Penalties
can quickly mount up into unexpected
and damaging cash outﬂows.
If you're employing staﬀ, understand
your legal responsibilities as an
employer and any PAYE requirements.
While these can be a little tedious, they
are critical to running and growing a
Research is your friend. It's essential
to spend a considerable time sizing up
your competition, establishing your
unique selling proposition (USP) and
deﬁning your target audience.
Ask yourself: who are your
competitors? How successful are
they? The more you know, the better
position you'll be in. Understanding
what your competitors do well will
give you a good idea about what your
customers are looking for.
Many aspiring entrepreneurs I
meet are obsessed with inventing
something new. Instead, why not
take something and make it better?
To do this you must establish your
USP. List your business attributes
and evaluate how well you meet those
needs. Perhaps excellent customer
service is your USP. Whatever it is,
be sure to communicate it through
all your portals.
Remember, just because someone
currently has a position in a market
doesn't mean they're delivering on it.
If you can do it better, make it known.
Also think about your target
audience and develop the business
around them. Consulting customers
The best way to
grow your business
is to surround
yourself with the
will make them feel they have a voice,
breed loyalty and, in the best-case
scenario, increase the likelihood of
them recommending you to others.
Starting a business is very expensive.
Before you even think about paying
for marketing materials, you need to
consider simple infrastructure costs.
Luckily, the proliferation of funding
options has rocketed in the last couple
of years. It's important to shop around
rather than taking the ﬁrst thing you
ﬁnd, because having no money and
running a business does not work.
You need to ﬁnd something that
works for you. Perhaps you'd beneﬁt
from the mentoring possibilities
of angel investment. Or maybe
crowdfunding is the answer, or
applying for funding through the
government-funded Start Up Loans.
I'm sure everyone wishes there
was a secret formula to successful
marketing. The truth is, the more
eﬀort you put into developing
marketing campaigns, using social
media and networking, the more
successful you will eventually be.
Nothing comes easy - and marketing
is no exception. It has been great to
witness a shift in entrepreneurship in
recent years. People want to know the
names, faces and personalities behind
their favourite products, brands and
services. So from the beginning make
it clear who you are and what you do.
Take time to think about the face,
name and personality of your brand.
Will the company tell its own corporate
story, or will you tell it directly? Once
you have decided, you need to increase
your social media presence.
Become a thought leader in your
industry by sharing interesting content
with your followers and encouraging
them to engage. In this respect, I ﬁnd
blogs extremely useful.
It is people who breathe life into
business. The best way to grow your
business is to surround yourself with
the best people. This concept can be
applied to potential new staﬀ,
customers and business partners.
It's important that you're not alone.
Owning your own business can be
lonely if it's just you, your contacts list
and an oﬃce. Believe me, I know! You
should already have an idea about the
kind of people you want to bring into
your business and be thinking about
the long-term advances.
Even if you are a one-man band
now, the minute you start becoming
successful you'll need to ﬁnd a ﬁnance
person, a marketing person, an admin
assistant... the list goes on. Factor this
in to your business planning, especially
if you're looking to pitch for funding.