Starting a business can be one of the most exciting, liberating and rewarding experiences of your working life—but it can also be a minefield of doubts and worries. Don’t be put off!
At Renault, we’ve seen many successful business start-ups, and we’d like to share advice on simple steps you can take. Success is never guaranteed, but there are plenty of ways to improve your odds and approach your business start-up with confidence. Let’s go!
#1 Starting your own business—why?
It sounds almost too obvious even to ask, but a successful business start-up can always use a bit of honest introspection. Examine your motives. Getting rich quick may be a great reason to buy a lottery ticket, but as a model for starting your own business it is, frankly, a non-starter. Now, if you’re driven by a great idea, a skill or craft that you have and feel passionate about, or you’ve spotted a gap in the market in your particular field or location … that’s more like it!
#2 Make a list of your business start-up resources
Many people who aspire to become entrepreneurs fixate on how to get started with little or no money. Two things: one, it’s not necessarily about starting with a huge investment; two, helpful resources for starting a business take many different forms.
Jot down a list of all the things you have going for you. This could include a good head for figures, great people skills, or a supportive network of friends and family. Make an honest assessment of your aptitudes and skills, and compare yourself to others: what is something you can do, that others in your field or vicinity can’t (or not as well)?
#3 Running through the basics of starting a business
Think of the practical details and external factors that can make a difference on start-up. For example, do you or one of your relations have the accounting basics to fill in a tax return? Can you drive? Check out what vans can I drive on my driving licence. Do you have premises?
If you’re starting your business working at home, check any impact on your council tax and consider any possible downsides. What are the issues around tax breaks and legalities? You don’t need all the answers straight away: just make sure you’ve given yourself time and space to identify the questions.
#4 Talk, ask, listen: an essential part of your business planning
Don’t underestimate the pool of knowledge held by friends, family and workmates. Look back to the persons in your list from #3: could they have useful input on starting up your business? Keep asking around, keep talking, keep listening: something useful is sure to come up. And don’t forget the role of specialist businesses. Naturally, we will be happy to advise on Renault vans and the best Renault van for your business, but all sorts of other professionals will be of help too: accountants, insurance providers, employment experts, etc. You may very well need some of their services when business starts picking up steam.
#5 Go over some nitty-gritty business start-up logistics
Excellent, you’re well on your way to writing a business plan. But first, you may want to spend a little more time thinking and gathering facts, more specifically on nitty-gritty details. These could include:
How visible is your business identity?
You need to make sure your business start-up will be visible on internet search engines, maps, address checkers and directories. Is your brand name of choice already taken? Is there a Web domain name up for the taking?
Communication and security
You need to be reachable by contacts, clients, suppliers and potential customers. You will also likely be mobile. Are your telecommunication systems reliable? Do you have back-ups of your data?
Transport for business
If yours is the kind of business that needs reliable transport as part of its operations, have you considered the best van on the market for your needs? Here’s where Renault can really help your planning process by pointing out the many benefits of the models in its range—does a Renault Trafic fit the bill or is the Renault Kangoo Van more readily adaptable to your purposes?
#6 Outline your start-up costs with a capital budget
If you need an initial injection of start-up cash, quantify the amount and the detail. First, you need to make a capital budget: a list of the tangible assets that are essential to getting started. A friendly word of warning: don’t think too big or get carried away with top-of-the-range equipment right at the beginning. Whether it’s computers, telecommunications or premises, the rule should be “work with what you’ve got”, so long as it is reliable. Instead, focus on the essentials that your enterprise could not operate without from day one, such as your business transport, specialist tools, stock-in-trade or storage space.
#7 Plan your business budget for running costs and income
After planning for day one with the capital budget, the next step—you guessed it—is to plan for day two. Write up a business budget detailing the income and expenditure that goes into the day-to-month-to-year running of your business. Both aspects can get a bit convoluted, so start simple with your income assumptions. What daily rate are you setting? What is the most efficient system for receiving and making payments?
On the expenditure side of things, start by analysing all your running costs such as fuel, utility bills, office supplies and insurance. Last but not least, you must include a contingency figure—for things you haven’t thought of yet or unforeseen emergencies. Either way, you can be certain you will need it. A good rule of thumb is to allow for 12 months’ worth of running costs, without any income to offset it, as a contingency planning figure.
#8 Write a business plan
Don’t be surprised this didn’t come higher up the list! When you’re considering how to start a business, it’s too easy to jump straight into writing a plan before you’ve done the basic legwork. Now that you’ve really thought things through, done the research and consulted, you’re ready. You won’t find any shortage of advice and help on how to write a business plan, but remember this is your enterprise. No two people go about starting a business in exactly the same way, and there are no off-the-shelf solutions. Set out the basic business idea, exactly what it aims to achieve, how, at what cost and over what timescale. Make sure to add your capital and income & expenditure budgets.
#9 Produce an executive summary of your business plan
And now, the last steps to the finish line. Summarise your business plan, ideally in no more than a couple of sheets, and summarise both capital and running costs budgets. The executive summary is an invaluable tool when approaching financial organisations for business start-up loans or investment, or when raising finance for business transport. When things start to grow, you will have this distillation of all your research and hard work in a handy format in case, for example, you want to employ one or more people or commission a new website.
#10 Start out on your business adventure
You’ve worked out how to start a business. Congratulations, you’ve made it through the first major step of your new adventure! All that’s left to do is to hang on to your confidence in your idea, get into gear, and set off on the road to running your own business. We can’t wait to see what you’ll accomplish!