Starting a new business

Business Insights

Paul Stewart, founder of outlines steps emerging entrepreneurs need to consider in setting up their first business.

Starting a business from scratch is daunting, challenging as well as being incredibly rewarding and life changing.

With businesses ground to a halt as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, we could see a wave of new entrepreneurs emerge having had the time to think and refine concepts.

The way we’re living, shopping, socialising and consuming media has changed beyond recognition but out of all the change, I’m sure we’ll see exciting and innovative new business ideas, products and services emerge.

Whether you’re planning to launch a business now or sometime in the future, the same pathways need to be followed as a guide to help you take your business from concept through to business launch.

Identifying the idea

This is often the hardest part – coming up with concept that’s new, fulfilling a customer need and one you believe in and feel passionate about. Some businesses are very product based, others service. The one thing any new business has in common is it meets a need that currently isn’t being met.

For some that idea can come from personal experience and be a solution to a problem. For MyBaggage the concept was developed from my struggles to find a way to ship my items from home in Belfast to University in Edinburgh. If I had that need, surely other students did too?

For others it may be predicting future problems and finding a solution, adapting a concept to meet changing consumer needs, making life easier and even help people save money.

Identifying the audience

Knowing your audience for launch is essential. That audience may change over time but if you have a clearly defined audience in terms of age, gender, annual income and where they live then you will be in a much better position to reach them. MyBaggage originally began as a service for university students who needed to transport their belonging from home to halls. The audience was clear, 18 + students plus their parents with the purchasing power to book and pay for the service.

Over the years the audience can and will evolve as you grow the business and diversify to offer additional service and products. You will be in a good place to create audience persona’s and begin to market to them.

Market research

Testing the idea is a must – there is little point in launching something nobody needs or wants. There are a number of ways to do this including desk research, focus groups and even trial and error by testing the concept with a sample group.

Business plan and finances

You need a plan to turn your business into reality. If you need investors or support from the bank, then you need to prepare a full business plan. If you’re self-financing, a short document giving clarity on what you hope to achieve and how you plan to do it.

When planning your finances think about start-up costs including any equipment, legal fees, trademarking, premises plus what you’ll need to keep the business running for the first year.

Think about the type of financing too including loans, grants, investors, crowdfunding or self-funding.

Other things to consider includes your company structure, registering your business name, applying for any licences and permits, deciding on where you’re going to base your business and hiring staff.

Promoting your business

Having a marketing and social media in place are essential to launch your product or service to market. Make use of the all the marketing tools available to you and don’t be afraid to pay for expert advice and support to bring your idea to life.

Launching your idea to key media, to bloggers, thinking about online advertising all needs to be part of your overall plan to start getting the business noticed.

Building the business

Once you’ve successfully launched the business you need to think about how you move it forward and continue to grow. MyBaggage evolved from a company shipping student luggage to operating globally helping people move around the world.

It takes time and hard work to get to this point but a good business plan and idea, clear leadership and a solid team will make anything possible.