Got that burning ambition to start an online business?
Are you wriggling around with excitement at the thought of what might be possible in the future... if you can just make it all happen?
If you have already nailed your business idea and you are feeling "heck-yeah" ready to take the plunge, then it's time to think seriously about the ownership journey ahead of you.
According to MicroBizMag, 57.6% of start up companies were gone 5 years later and 65% of UK employees want to start their own business.
Running your own business sounds like the dream, but the reality is that it's a lot of hard work. If you are among the 65% who want to start your own business, but don’t want to be within the 57% who’s business fails within 5 years, then tick through these ten questions on our checklist to discover if you are really ready...
When you’re running your own business, you end up eating, sleeping and dreaming about it. It is the reason you will wake up, will crack on even when you’re shattered and will pursue success even when both your body and brain is screaming "please, no more!". So, are you truly, genuinely passionate about it?
You will be talking about your business a lot and have to live it's values, so if you are likely to tire of the subject quickly and the business, it may not be the right one for you.
Remember too that your competitors may well be super passionate about the topic - so ask yourself do you think they will run harder for their business because they truly love EVERYTHING about the topic.... of course they will... Passion matters.
Running a business isn’t all smooth sailing, you will hit storms along the way and some days will be a lot harder than others. Are you the type of person who doesn’t give up easy?
Are you the person who holds the umbrella high with a smile on your face whilst it downpours, or the one that avoids going out in the rain? When you’ve launched your business, you need to ensure that you will stick with it, no matter what the weather.
You will need tenacity and strength that you don't yet know you even have to make this work. So look at your track record and take a long hard look in the mirror - are you known for being a bit flakey and the first one to usually give up or perhaps you get easily distracted by the next shiny thing, or are you, instead, like a dog with a bone.. and nothing, ever, can turn your laser focused gaze away, or make you drop it!
Online business is all about data analytics. You will find yourself having to frequently run a series of tests and monitoring the numbers to see what is working in your business, and what isn’t.
Every part of modern business runs on data now - Social media has numbers you need to be across, as does email marketing and website performance, customer journeys and sales conversions.
Numbers will be something you will have to get used to reading and making sense of. If you don’t like data, or drilling into the detail then you will struggle to navigate your online business without it and your business will end up being run like a hobby. Serious business owners get serious about their numbers.
What is your ‘why’? What is the reason for you starting your business? Do you know?
Why you want to launch and sustain your online business is the motivating factor that will drive you through the ups and downs of running your business. If you don’t have a reason why, you will likely stumble when the going gets tough.
Your Why is the fire in your belly, that fuels you to keep going, to ignore everyone who gets in your way and to help you keep searching for answers even when all seems like it is lost. If you haven't watched Simon Sineks famous Ted Talk on Finding Your Why, you should.
By validating your product or service idea, you will know whether your customers definitely want it. Is there actually a demand? A gap in the market?
You will need to prove that there is a market for it and most importantly that there are real life customers who want to hand over their hard earned money to buy your product or service.
You do need to actually check this is the case, especially if you seek out any funding. You will also need to show market research in your business plan.
Don't assume the age old vanity trick is true i.e. "lots of people tell me they love it on Instagram".... that's great, but have they actually handed you any money for it yet? That's the big test...
Also quick side note...Your family and friends are the worst people to ask - of course they are going to say your business is great! Instead, you need to ask people who don't know you and don't care about you - only then will you get the truth!
So please don't skip this step, as tempting as it may feel, and as scary as it is to ask people who don't know you if they would buy your product... do your customer research - it is 100% critical to creating a business that makes money !
Do you have the right funding in place to launch your business? Or do you know where you will go to access it?
Running a business and launching an online takes funding - and it's always, always, more than you think. From your website costs, to software, marketing your business and giving away product for PR, running your sales team and attracting customers through ads - you will need to have funding in place to get yourself both set up.... but also RUNNING!
So many clients we meet in the early start up stages have been brilliant at budgeting their set up costs for their initial business plan, but they then totally forget that they will need to also budget for stock replenishment, and overall stock holding increases as they scale up the business (costs get larger as sales do!) ...and of course re-investment in the business for equipment maintenance, staff turnover etc etc... all the operational day to day.
Making sure you do the proper cost research for your business plan BEFORE you start actually de-risks the whole venture on paper first. Make the mistakes in your spreadsheet and find out that you won't make a profit there... not with your bank account!
Thinking ahead is really important. It’s all good when you’re excited at the thought of launching a business but have you really thought ahead to the tougher days? To the hurdles? To how you will persist with it?
Have you got a job currently? Will you have to leave that, and when? Don’t just think about the next year- really think ahead.
Plan the major milestones that are likely to come up over the next 3 years and when you are likely to have to make some big decisions like resigning from your "proper job". Knowing what is coming up can help you cope with these major life decisions without feeling totally overwhelmed by it all.
Because if you aren’t, you will need to learn how to be, Stat.
There really is a balancing act involved when it comes to running your business, from the business development side, to handling orders and customers. If you are not organised, everything will feel messy, chaotic, things will get missed and you will end up very stressed.
Channel your organised ninja skills, prioritise your time ruthlessly and for every repeatable task in your life - standardise and automate it!
Ok this is a biggie....Figuring out who your target market is, is essential.
Do you have a customer avatar? A clear idea on exactly the type of person you aim to serve and who will love your product or service. If not, how will you know how to advertise and where to go in order to get your first customer?
Before you launch your business, this is probably the biggest and most important element to do some serious thinking time on. Dig deep, understand where your ideal customer hangs out online, what they like, what they dislike... know them like you know yourself. Inside out. Only then will you be ready to serve them well, have a conversation with them and ask them if they would like to buy.
Have you thought about who might be able to help you? Everyone needs a team! From a bookkeeper, to a social media manager- there are people you may need to outsource and delegate too so you can do what you do best for the business.
Delegation is a learned skill and if you are to be successful in your new business venture, you will need to delegate fast. The best place to start is with the jobs you don't enjoy or aren't very good at!
Always ask yourself "can I use other peoples knowledge" to make my journey go faster, to accelerate the pace of my business and to help me avoid making the same mistakes.
So, how many of our checklist questions could you tick off as complete? Are you ready to start an online business?
I hope that these ten questions have got you thinking. Running a business can be exhausting, but equally it can be so rewarding. Before you take the plunge, give yourself the thinking space required and then start by writing a business plan - this will help you see success on paper first, avoid the pitfalls and do the thinking so that you don't fall into the 57% who’s business ends within the first five years.
If you would like further advice on starting an online business, we run Start Up Strategy Days throughout the year to explore your business growth plans. Feel free to book a free discovery call with Emma here to find out more.