Check your market
You've got a great idea, right? Customers are going to love it and come flocking to buy, right?
It might work like that BUT unless people are prepared to pay money for what you've got, your new business will never survive. So do some research to make sure there’s a market for your service at the price you want to charge. Find out more about doing online market research here.
Get cash flowing in the right direction
That's IN QUICKLY and OUT SLOWLY.
To get cash in quickly you should start selling from day one, if not before, and either get payment up front or on delivery. If you can't do either of these make sure you get your invoices out very quickly!
To help cash leave your business slowly only pay your bills when they're due and not before (but definitely not after), don't splash out on top of the range mobile phones, laptops or cars, work from home for now if you can, and lease or rent equipment rather than buying it.
Check out your competitors
Work out who they are, understand what they do, but don't copy them! Just do what they do better, quicker, faster, or do it differently - that's your USP (unique selling point). Use it in all your marketing.
Don't try to do everything yourself
It takes a lot of time to run a small business. But you shouldn't be sitting in an office logging sales invoices or checking delivery notes when you could be out selling or doing. So stick to what you’re good at and get full-time or part-time staff, freelancers, or outsource services to do the rest. Get some ideas of what you can outsource here.
Have a (business) plan
There's two different types of business plan. One is a tool to help you run your business (the working version) and the other is what you'd present to potential investors (the glossy version)
We're great fans of working business plans. Your plan doesn't need to be a novel - you can probably cover it in a few paragraphs! It should describe:
What you're offering
How it benefits your customers
How much it costs you to provide
What you're going to charge for it
How much of it you're aiming to sell
Which customers you're targeting (don’t make it too broad) and how you're going to find them
How you're going to measure your perfomance
Running a business is not a science though so don't expect to run exactly to plan. Some things will work, some won't and new opportunities will arise, so put some time aside to review and update your plan regularly.