In 2013, there were more business start-ups in the UK than ever before, and with the economic skies clearing, now is as good a time as any to take the plunge. If you’re planning on starting an SME in 2014, there are a few steps you can take to ensure you don’t succumb to the pitfalls of business.
Write a Business Plan
According to StartupBusinessHub.com, 85% of small businesses fail within the first year. One of the most prevalent reasons for this high rate of failure is poor planning and under capitalization. A good business plan will help you stay on track with targets, budget accordingly and can double your chance of success.
Before you start investing money, seeking finance and engaging with clients, make sure your business plan is rock solid, with projections for months or possibly even years in advance. Like your business, your business plan will most likely change through time, but having a clear visual path will help you progress in the right direction. In addition, without a solid business plan you may fail to gain finance from creditors – such as banks and suppliers – that you are relying on to get upfront capital.
Establish a Digital Presence
A business is like a living, breathing entity that’s constantly adapting to the environment. In today’s digital age it’s important that you have an Internet presence, otherwise you’ll lose out on a world of opportunities, including free marketing. In a survey conducted by OurSocialTimes.com, 81% of SMEs reported using social media in their marketing strategies; and 60% of these stating that they were of significant benefit to their business.
You should make steps to develop the digital side of your business from day one. Whether it’s simply engaging on social networks like Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook or collecting email addresses on your website, the sooner you start online marketing the better. Even if you don’t plan on selling your products or services immediately, having a list of contacts to market to when your business is ready to launch could give you a significant head start.
When you start a new business, no doubt you’ll be looking to expand from day one; however, move too quickly and expansion can have adverse effects. One of the main reasons why many SMEs go out of business is because they don’t have the capital for growth. When your business gets bigger, so does your workload. This could mean you have to buy new equipment, hire new employees and upgrade your premises, etc.
If you want to expand, but don’t have the capital in place, virtual offices could be of benefit. A virtual office will allow you to have an address and phone number in a prestigious location, but without the physical space. In terms of expansion, most virtual office providers will also have pay-as-you-go services, including employees and facilities. For example, rather than hire a receptionist, you could hire a telephone answering service to take your messages; or rather than pay excessive overheads for a permanent meeting room, you could hire a meeting room per hour as and when you need to. For a detailed breakdown on how virtual offices can aid expansion visit this excellent guide.
If you’re starting a business in 2014, it’s worth emphasizing the importance of mobile marketing. In Oct 2013, DigitalBuzzBlog.com reported that 50% of mobile phone users use their smart phone as their primary Internet source; and 72% of tablet owners purchase online. These figures will only increase throughout 2014 and proves just how powerful establishing a digital presence can be for new SMEs.
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