Being a business owner means many things. You get to turn your passion into profit, support your family, create jobs, and bring value to your customers. It’s a fantastic way to take ownership of your life, and we’re thrilled you’re taking your first steps.
Building a business can be daunting, but preparation will take you a long way. So, without further delay, let’s get you up and running!
How to Start Your Business in 10 Steps
1. Conduct Market Research
When it comes to business, never go in blind.
For example, let’s say you have a revolutionary product. It’s going to change the world. It’s going to change lives. It’s going to change everything.
Until you realise it already exists. Or that it causes horrendous rashes. Or worse, that nobody is going to want your product.
Firstly, is your idea a good one? Do people need what you’re offering? Is there an opportunity for growth, and do you know what the market size is?
Extensive market research involves identifying new customers and nurturing existing ones. It would be best if you found out things like their income, location, and marital status. The more you know, the more direct you can be with your approach.
Market research will help you grasp where your business sits in the wider scheme of things, which means you can make informed decisions. Conducting market research allows you to set realistic targets and goals, identify if there is room for future expansion and solve impending or current business challenges.
Check out how you can test your business idea, and get a free market survey template while you’re at it.
2. Define Your Business Goals
A new business without clearly outlined goals is like a face mask that’s too big - pretty useless.
It’s important to have long-term goals for your business, but we would recommend beginning with your short-term goals when you’re just starting out. You can’t predict what will happen in the next five years, but you can streamline your goals for the next two years.
Short-term business goals are clear, practical, focused, and often employee-focused. There are a few ways you can outline business goals, one of them being SMART goals. You can use SMART against your goals to identify if they are:
If your goals meet all five criteria, go ahead and fit them into your business plan (coming up next)
What Do Business Goals Look Like?
Here are some examples of what business goals can look like:
- Best customer service
- Increase market share
- Build community
- Grow shareholder value
- Decrease tools/turnaround
3. Write Your Business Plan
Now, your business plan does not have to stay the same forever. If anything, think of it as an exercise to understand more about where your business is at and more importantly, where it’s going.
When you’re starting a business, a business plan sets things into motion. It’s like writing a contract to the universe to say, “Hey! I’m serious about this! Can we get moving, please?”
It’s also important to have for any funders or lenders.
There are two types of business plans: a traditional business plan and a lean startup business plan.
Traditional Business Plan
A traditional business plan is a lengthy document that should include the following sections:
- Executive summary
- Company description
- Market analysis
- Organisation and management
- Service or product line
- Marketing and sales
- Funding request
- Financial projections
Lean Startup Plan
A lean startup business plan is a shorter document that gives a succinct overview of your business and should include the sections below:
- Key partnerships
- Key activities
- Key resources
- Value proposition
- Customer relationships
- Customer segments
- Cost structure
- Revenue streams
4. Define Your Budget
What money is going where? And do you have enough?
Defining your budget is one of the most critical steps of starting a business: business owners face their finances head-on, they do not shy away from them.
In a nutshell, defining your budget entails laying out the fixed and variable costs of your business. Ideally, this should be conducted once a month, and then you will allocate funds based on your business goals and targets.
Your fixed costs are things you need to pay on a regular basis, and unless inflation strikes again, you usually know more or less what the cost will be. Some fixed costs you’ll encounter are:
- Insurance premiums
- Loan payments
- Building/office space lease
- Vehicle leases/loans
As the name would suggest, variable costs vary from month to month. Variable costs could be:
- Suppliers, contractors, or commission for salespeople
- Utilities that increase with use
- Delivery costs
- Shopping costs
- Advertising (could also fall under fixed costs)
- Maintenance or repairs of hardware/equipment
5. Get Funding for Your Business
Starting a business is expensive - but that shouldn’t hold you back. There are plenty of opportunities for loans and lending out there. You just need to know where to look. Your business plan and budget will help you figure out how much funding you need.
Small business loans are on the rise in South Africa as more people realise the potential the small business sector has.
There is an art to getting the right funding, and we outline everything you need to know in our article: How Can I Get a Small Business Loan in 2021?
6. Pick Your Business Location
If you’re starting a remote/digital business, you can skip number 6.
When it comes to picking your business location, you should keep four things in mind:
- Licences and permits
- Location registration
When you’re starting a business, don’t think too much about the aesthetics and size of the space. Everybody starts somewhere, and you would rather be pumping money into your business than into an over-zealous space.
7. Choose a Business Structure
This is where things get legal. A business structure is the legal structure of a company or organisation. The structure you choose needs to be recognised by your local jurisdiction. Some of the business structures you’ll come across include:
8. Choose Your Business Name
You may have already chosen a name when you wrote up your business plan, but you have time to make a change before you register your business.
Your brand name is the first thing people hear about your business (ideally followed by stellar reviews). Don’t overcomplicate it, but don’t take it too lightly.
Luckily, we can help you out in this department.
Read this when you get around to naming your brand: 10 Do’s and Don’ts to Finding the Best Business Name Ideas.
9. Register Your Business
A registered business is infinitely more trustworthy than an unregistered one. If you really want to make things official, you’ll need to go ahead and get registered.
The good news? It’s not nearly as complicated or as expensive as people seem to think. The entire process can be done from home and costs between R125 – R475 depending on the type and size of your business.
10. Get the Best Fintech
You’ve got the name. You’ve secured the funding and you’ve registered your business: you’re ready to start selling.
And if you’re in the market for a zero-hassle card payment solution, we’re in the market to tell you about it.
iKhokha Card Machines are designed to take your business to the next level, and we have a fantastic community of small business owners who can attest to the versatility and reliability of their card machines. With an iKhokha Mover Pro or Shaker Solo, you have access to 24/7 support, iK Cash Advance and iK Prepaid.
Not to mention no monthly rental fees and the lowest transaction rates in Mzansi.
Sounds good? Contact our team to find out more.