Have you ever wanted to start your own business?
A few months ago, the Norfolk Chamber asked its members for some simple tips for startups. These were for anyone interested in going freelance or starting a limited company. We started jotting down some notes – and ended up with the following list.
- Research your market and test your ideas. Check out the free #startup master-classes from Innovation New Anglia or the free ‘Best Start’ programme from Menta.
- Find your tribe on social media before you launch. Find people who share your passion. Follow them and influential experts in your business sector.Attract them by posting ideas, comments and facts on your specialist subject. Fill your timeline with inspiration.
- Build your offline network too. Find people who share your interest or who know things your business could use. Hand out business cards and ask people to connect on social media.
- Try to start your business as a side project. Don’t give up your day job immediately. Instead, try to run your business in your free time for a few months.
- Tell people about your new business. Don’t be afraid to contact everyone in your network. Make it personal. Ask them for help getting the news out and for advice on how to improve your offer. If you don’t ask, you won’t get.
- Get your first customer. No amount of testing beats a real customer paying for your product or service. Don’t worry if your offer isn’t perfect – just make sure your customer knows how lucky they are to be your first.
- Don’t be afraid to ask people for feedback. Ask probing questions – not leading questions. Don’t ask: “Did you like the product/service?” Instead, ask: “How can I improve / What didn’t work / What more would you like?”
- Make sure you tell HMRC that you are going freelance. Keep accurate records: talk to an accountant about expenses and VAT. If you are buying and selling products, set up as a limited company. And check your insurance.
- Watch your cash flow. Keep your outgoings low. Don’t spend what you don’t have. And remember – not all you earn is yours – you might have to pay tax at the end of the year.
- Make the most of free business advice. Talk to people at the Norfolk Chamber, Genix (run by Menta), NWES, and the New Anglia Growth Hub. You can also get lots of useful information from the Business and Intellectual Property Centre in the Norwich Business Library,
You can read other people’s suggestions in issue 36 of the Norfolk Voice Magazine (pages 30-31).
We hope you find these startup tips interesting, useful and thought provoking. Please post your views below. And feel free to share on social media – remember to use the hashtag #Startups.
PS: Do what you love, do it with passion and have fun.
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Thank you for reading
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Huw and Wendy Sayer