Starting your own business is not for everyone, but if it is something you have a passion to do then you must first… Conquer the fear to own your SME.
The reasons and the ways to the beginning of the SME path are as many and various as the paths themselves. From my experience of working with this sector over the last 15 years, one thing has constantly shone through, you have to be fearless to begin. Being fearless doesn’t mean not feeling any fear, it means to feel the fear but to go for it anyway. Without this “lets see what happens” attitude, it is so much harder to make your SME work and thrive.
There is never a right time to begin, lets make that clear, let me repeat it again, there is never a right time to begin. On something of this enormity, there will always be a reason not to start, “Its not the right time of year”, “I don’t yet have all the money in place”, “Im getting married next year”, etc. etc. etc. All valid excuses to not begin the process, in fact all valid reasons to not begin many many things… but they are just that, excuses, and if you hide behind excuses in the beginning then maybe this isn’t the career path for you.
That said, it shouldn’t be a case of wake up on a Tuesday, decide I’m starting an SME today, don’t know what it’ll be, but sure it’ll be grand, there is no place for this approach either. No, if success is your goal, then your constant mantra must be, Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail. So what are the key things to consider before you begin? There are many things that should be considered before you set out and these vary from business to business, for this blog I want to cover just three of these.
Market research is essential to all new start ups, and indeed should remain a constant feature of growing your business. First you must look to the market to see if there is a need or a place for your business, service or product. Establish who are your competitors, what are they doing that is better than you and what can you do to be better than them. Are they thriving, or is the market flooded already with what you have to offer, do you have a USP, a Unique Selling Point, that one thing that singles you out from the rest?
Finance and Funding
If you wait until you have the right amount of savings to start then you may have to wait forever, but that doest mean you should plan to starve either. The first years of most start up SME’s can be lean times, and how and what you spend your money on can take up a lot of your time. Before setting out its advisable to seek out the guidance of a good accountant or financial adviser, take a look at your budgets and finances and explore areas where you may source ways of funding your venture. A good resource for Irish SME’s is the www.supportingsmes.ie website, it can help you straight off to see areas of support to help you get your feet on the ground. The local Leader Partnerships also provide essential support and training, so look up your local office and make an appointment to see an adviser.
Branding and Marketing
One of the most important resources you will need to invest in on an on going bases is your branding and marketing. A lot of SME’s underestimate the importance of this from the very outset, and thus ever fully establish a clear branding and marketing strategy. In lean times, it is often the promotions and advertising budget which gets chopped first, (which can be the death knell for many a small or medium enterprise), after all if you are not letting people know you are in the market, then how can they find you?
A good brand should have consistency of design across all the promotional material you use. First its important that your logo be professionally designed, it may seem cheaper to do it yourself or “get your nephew who has photoshop” to do it for you, but in the long run it will be far more costly. When you hire a professional you are getting the benefit of their experience and knowledge as well as the hours spent in design and development. A good designer will deliver a brand that will attempt to single you out from the competition, establish a sense of strength and security in your business, and be replicated within strict guidelines wherever it is used, to ensure that you always look your best.
Once you have your brand you must then look at ways to get it out there, what are your paths to market, and how are you going to leave your brand with potential customers. The specific methods and devices, (such as business cards, brochures, POS systems, fliers, posters etc.). you use, will be determined by the type of business you have, and how you are going to bring it to your customers. Of all of the things modern SME’s require there are two standards that every one should have at their disposal, namely a great business card, and a professionally designed and deployed website.
At www.create108.com we know all about building brands for the SME sector, after all we are a SME sector brand ourselves. Our range of clients all inhabit this particular sphere of business, so we know the challenges faced by this sector. We offer a Free initial consultancy to start up SME’s as well as brand audits and design services to growing SME’s, where we go over all of the above in more detail. Find out more information about our SME Services, and to book your Free Consultation, simply call us on 087-7689728, we look forward to helping you Conquer the Fear and Grow Your SME.