Entrepreneurship can be a difficult, lonely road filled with twists, bumps, and blindsiding turns. But when a great business idea pays off, you could find yourself cruising at maximum speed on your way to unencumbered financial freedom.
The trickiest part is getting that engine started. Knowing where the ignition is, what the foot pedals do, and the route to your destination are all prerequisites when stepping in to drive. Similarly, having a plan in place and a clear idea of the direction you’re headed are the starting points for any new business venture.
It may seem strange at first, but cash is not a huge factor when launching a business. Of course, money plays its role later when looking to grow and scale your business. But to start, all you need is an entrepreneurial mindset and the basic characteristics of hard work, determination, and a willingness to explore, learn, and grow.
In our ongoing effort to work with business owners to help them start, run and grow their businesses, we’ve laid out a 16-step process for you to follow when starting your small business with zip, nada, zilch, and for mahala. Let’s dive in!
16 Tips to Get You Started
“Let your ideas and thoughts give you inspiration. All creativity comes from your imagination; you first imagine and then you create.” - Catherine Pulsifer
1: The Idea
Every man-made creation started first and foremost with an idea. Only you have access to the depths and wonders of your imagination and it is up to you to dream up your winning business idea.
When thinking of a business idea, begin by exploring all your interests. Then, narrow the list by picking out the items that align with your education, experience, talents, and strengths. This will give you an idea of what business venture may be profitable using the tools that are already at your disposal.
If you’re all about the hustle and flow, then check out 54 Cheap Side Hustle Ideas to Make You Extra Cash in 2023!
2. Businesses You Can Start for Free
Starting a business with little-to-no capital requires that you adopt a company model with extremely low overheads. Delivering a service is a great way to do this as all you need is your given abilities and customers who are willing to pay for your service. So, babysitting, consulting, event planning, and tutoring are all businesses that you can get into if you don’t have any extra randelas lying around to invest.
Placing your business online is another good way of ensuring that you do not spend heavily at the beginning.
Here are other business ideas you can consider:
- Affiliate marketing
- Content writing
- Paid ad specialist
3. Do the Research
Have you ever sat down to write a test and know what you want to say but don’t have the words to say it? Well, chances are you might have needed to revise your work just a little bit more. That’s what it’s like when you have a brilliant idea but you haven’t done the research to back it up.
The success of your business will ultimately be determined by the time and effort you put into it. It starts with doing adequate research on the various aspects that, when combined, form the basis of your business.
4. Validate Your Idea
Many new businesses fail because they offer a product or service that no one wants. It’s vital that you validate your business idea by making sure there’s a gap in the market for it.
You can start by explaining your business idea to family, friends, and colleagues. Then you can get insight from your social media connections, especially on business platforms like LinkedIn. These conversations will help you ascertain whether your business idea is grounded in societal interests.
Try testing the waters of your idea by networking, attending conferences, and speaking to other business owners and entrepreneurs. And remember, a good idea may not be the best idea for right now.
5. Make Sure Your Business is Profitable
Once your business has been validated, you’ll need to know whether it has the chance of making money in your particular market conditions. Do the necessary research to ensure that your business is able to scale at the rate you intend it to.
6. Be Smart with the Business Tools You Use
Every business has its own set of tools that are needed for the job. If your business idea requires heavy machinery, advanced technology and other expensive equipment, it may be wise to look at different options that require much less at the beginning stages of operation.
7. Be Aware of Third Parties
Do comprehensive research on the vendors, suppliers, and customers that you’ll be working with at your new business. Make sure you know what the requirements are for your proposed collaborations. You’d do well to also get acquainted with the legal requirements of running your company.
8. Do a Competitor Analysis
A great way to assess the feasibility of your business is by looking at other businesses in your industry that offer similar products/services. Looking at how both top-performing and struggling companies approach their product, sales, and marketing will let you know what to do to be competitive, and what not to do to avoid failure.
9. Test, Test, and Test Again
You can do all the research that you want, but the real test comes with practical implications. How will your product or service fare? Is your company name exciting and memorable? Create mock products and give free samples to friends or offer your service to family members for mahala. These real-world experiences will be invaluable in ensuring the longevity of your brand.
10. Build a Comprehensive Business Plan
Now that you’ve gathered a wealth of information from your thorough research, you are in a position to put all your ideas on paper and build your business plan.
A business plan is a navigational guide that contains all the steps that you need to start and successfully manage your business. It allows you to plan with patience and execute with purpose, making room for timely adjustments along the way.
Your business plan will help to determine your business's financial future, make you attractive to potential investors, give you a better understanding of your market, and help you streamline your brand identity, position, and marketing requirements.
Without a business plan, you’ll be entering a manic entrepreneurial war zone with no armour and zero weaponry. If your research is inadequate leading up to your business plan, it will be like entering the aforementioned battlefield armed only with a plastic fork and a cardboard vest.
11. The World Wide Web
We live in an age where an online presence is a must for any brand. In addition to being useful for connecting with your customers, the internet is also used for administrative tasks like ordering supplies, shipping inventory, and banking to name a few.
12. Create a Memorable Website
In the modern world, we are seeing that companies rarely gain credibility without a proper website in place. A website gives a ton of information to prospective clients and patrons about who you are as a company, what your vision and mission are, your product/service catalogue, and how to purchase your goods.
Anyone who interacts with your company will be grateful that you are just a simple click away.
13. Embrace Social Media
It seems as though every single person and their pet cat has a social media account. The same is true for businesses and anyone looking to grow their brand awareness.
In the interest of building organic communication, social media gives you key insight into customer behaviour, and you are able to build platforms that will allow your consumers to engage with you on a more personal level.
14. Don’t Forget About the Good Old Email
Another way of using the internet to target specific groups is by creating an email list. Build lists for your suppliers, vendors, and clients, and keep them plugged into your company’s journey.
Become an expert at email marketing with The Email Marketing Guide for Small Businesses.
15. Free Tools and Resources
Many of us are unaware of just how many free tools and resources are available out there. And you can find a free resource for just about anything! It’s all about finding exactly what will help you and your small business, for free. In this regard, Google is your best friend.
Here are some free resources that will help you along the way. Some may offer free subscriptions which you will have to pay for once the trial period is over, so be sure to pay attention to what is being offered and how.
- Communication: Discord, Slack
- Idea, team, and project management: Monday.com, Trello
- Website and email: Mailchimp, Wix, Site123
- Social Media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok
You can find more free learning material by reading Online Business Courses for South African Small Business Owners.
There is so much more out there and we have barely scratched the surface. So, hit that Google homepage and get cracking!
16. Sourcing Funds and Growth
While everything we’ve offered you in this article will help you start your business for free, this section looks at how you can grow your business once you’ve made it through the start-up phase.
Starting a business may be more cost-effective than you realise, but growing your company in any way will require some sort of financial investment. If your company has very low overheads that will stay low regardless of scale, then you could pay for what you need out of your own pocket. However, if someone is offering you a helping hand in the form of a loan or other credit options, then it’s probably rude not to accept it.
Try crowdfunding to get a little bit of help from many different people. Go to government websites to see where the state can subsidise your spending. Seek out angel investors who want to invest in the areas of your business. And, of course, you can obtain loans from banks and other financial institutions.
In fact, here are 5 Organisations That Can Help You Grow Your Kasi Business.
Whichever option you choose, just make sure that it makes long-term fiscal sense, and that it aligns with everything you’ve written out in your business plan.
Did you know that you can get a Business Cash Advance with iKhokha? Incredible!
Start Your Business Today - for Mahala
Starting a business does not need a lot of money. With patience, hard work, and a burning desire to learn and try new things, you can be your own boss in little-to-no time. And if you have iK Tap on Phone, you can start receiving card payments immediately without having to buy a card machine!
iK Tap on Phone uses near field communication (NFC) technology to seamlessly connect two devices that are in direct contact with or very close to one another. NFC chips can be found on most bank cards and now, they are in your smartphone too!
All you need to do is download the iKhokha App, activate iK Tap on Phone, and voila! Your phone is now a dedicated POS and you can start receiving payments from anyone. So, what’s your excuse for not starting your own business?