You have an ingenious business idea, something that you can really relate to, a concept that you feel so passionate about that the mere thought sends your heart racing! The only problem, however, is that you haven’t the foggiest idea on earth as to how you will actually go about starting this business. Not to worry, “cluelessness” is part of the process, think of it as the starting point – you can’t get anymore clueless than you are already. In a couple of easy steps we’ll show you how to get your business up and running – the right way!
- Create a Business Plan . A new business should always start with a business plan and if you require financing then don’t even bother making an appointment with the bank unless you have an in depth business plan in place. Visit the business tools section of Business Partners to get guidelines for drawing up your business plan.
- Research the Market . Before investing time and money into your business, you first need to research your idea. Ask yourself whether it is it something that people truly need or want? Assess your competition and determine the feasibility of opening such a business. The results of your research might suggest that you don’t open the business for one or more reasons and if so, try and adjust your business model so that it will work. There will be times however, where your research findings are contrary to the expected outcome with the essential course of action being that you just shouldn’t open the business. In these cases, you’ll realize the importance of writing a business plan and doing research as it can save you investing huge amounts of capital.
- Find a Suitable Business Name . Once you are convinced that your business idea would work, start thinking of an appropriate business name. Your name should give clients an idea as to what your business does as opposed to a non-descriptive name that has a meaning for you only. If you do choose an artistic name then make sure you have a big enough marketing/advertising budget to educate customers about your product or service.
- Register a Close Corporation or Operate as a Sole Proprietor . Will you be operating as a sole proprietor or will you be registering a Close Corporation (cc). Operating under your own name means that your business will essentially be “your name trading as business name”. This route is probably the easiest, simplest and fastest way of getting into business but registering a cc is a lot more professional and safer in the long run as your business is considered a separate entity from yourself. The financials of the business will be kept separate from your personal financials. As your business grows, it just makes sense to keep business matters separate from personal matters.
If you are serious about starting and running a business, we suggest registering a cc. By registering a cc from the start you are unlikely to have any problems with your eventual business name as CIPRO (companies and intellectual property registration office) checks the proposed business names against their database of existing names to prevent duplicates. If you operate as a sole proprietor you run the risk of having the same business name as a registered cc in which case if there were ever a dispute over the same business name, the registered company would most likely win. Can you imagine having to change your business name and business stationery once you are well established simply because you didn’t register a cc? Not a great thought!!
So check name availability and register your company on CIPRO . You first need to apply for the reservation of a business name and you need to complete a CK7. You need to do this through a registered agent which you can access on the CIPRO site. Once your cc’s name has been approved and reserved (ie. there are no other businesses with the same or similar name), the registration of the cc can take place. For this, you will now need to complete a CK1 and you will need a registered accountant to complete part of these forms.
- Organise your accounts and finances properly from the start. Get a decent accounting program like Pastel and keep all your accounts up-to-date quickly and easily. Loading clients and trying to get your accounts in order after doing everything manually for months on end can be considered somewhat of an undertaking, if not a huge nightmare. So take care of your accounts properly from the start!
- Get your logo and business stationery designed by professionals. Your business logo is one of the most important aspects of starting a new business; it mirrors your corporate identity and says a lot about the business itself. It is therefore imperative that you consult professional graphic designers to conceptualize your logo and stationery. This process should be taken seriously because a logo is such an integral part of the business and forms the foundation for the design of all other business stationery and promotional media. You don’t have to get an extensive array of business stationery designed but we would most certainly suggest getting a logo and business cards designed by professionals and possibly even a web page to start off with.
Once your primary stationery needs have been taken care of, you may consider (depending on the type of business) doing a promotion by handing out some custom designed flyers at busy intersections or sending out brochures to key clients. Whatever you do with regards to design work, we suggest getting a Professional Graphic Designer to do this for you – designing your own logo in Word with a bit of clipart here and there is just NOT cool!
- Promote your business . Now that you have registered your business, you have an accounting program in place and you’ve had business stationery designed, its time to promote your business service or product in the most cost effective and practical way possible. Some ideas are to offer freebies, place an advert in a local community newspaper or e-zine, get friends or family to spread the word, hand out flyers or brochures at stop streets, leave your business card/s in relevant shops or on local notice boards and advertise on a specific website directory.
Hopefully these simple steps will get you on your way to starting your business. Try and do things professionally and properly from the start and you’ll find the process of running your own business a lot easier.
Author: Franchise Finder, Online Directory of Franchises and Business Opportunities in South Africa