by Dr Greg Chapman
As a business coach I get approached by lots of people who are thinking of starting a business, or who have just started. There is one thing in common with all start-ups: they either don’t have much money, or don’t want to spend any. This is understandable. They don’t know whether the business will actually work, and how much time and resources they will devote to it.
So the start-up tries to save money by printing business cards on their home inkjet printer using pre-perforated cards from Office-works. They have a hotmail email account, or maybe their home Bigpond account- only marginally better. Their only phone number is either a mobile, or a home phone number that goes to an answering machine when they are not there. The address is a home address or a PO Box.
All these cost saving attempts scream AMATEUR!
It is not just about the money, it is also about the time. So people may try to start a business while holding down a fulltime job. How do you do that? Make calls from your office in the boss’ time- what might potential clients think when your ringing phone is answered by reception, or worse, picked up by your boss because you are not at your desk? Are you only able to meet your clients during lunch-time or after work?
This just informs your potential clients that you are so lacking in confidence in your business’ survival that you are keeping up your day job. Would you want to do business with someone like that?
Although it is hard starting up, you have to convince people you are serious. That you have made the commitment to make your business a success. This means being available to talk and meet with clients at times that suit them, and to invest in your business infrastructure.
In a new business you can expect to spend $10,000 in the first year in the establishment of your business infrastructure. You don’t need to spend this all up front, but there are things you should invest in as early as possible such as:
• Professionally produced business cards and stationery
• A proper email address based on your business name
• A basic website
• Simple advice for start-ups from both an accountant and a coach
So dedicate the time and create a budget of a third of your expected annual spend to make your business look professional and build your own confidence right from the start as you make those first scary steps into your marketplace.
The very fact that you invest your time and money in your new business will increase your commitment to the success of your business. Your potential clients will see this, and be far more confident in dealing with you and be prepared to become one of your first clients.
None of this need to cost a lot of money, but you must be prepared to make these investments, or else no-one will take you seriously and like many business intenders, you will learn the hard way, intentions are not enough.
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Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and is Australia's Lea ding Advisor on Emerging Businesses and provides Coaching and Consulting advice to Australian Small Business Owners in Marketing & Business Strategies Planning & Systems. He is also the author of The Five Pillars of Guaranteed Business Success and Price: How You Can Charge More Without Losing Sales.
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