Once that amazing business idea hits you and you’re at least 50% sure you can pull it off, there’s no turning back. You’re on the cusp of business greatness, but making that big idea happen takes equal parts courage and strategy.
So, pluck up the courage, and we’ll help you with the strategy part…
Some business ideas come right out of the blue and others piece together slowly but surely. Which camp do you fall in?
- You know you can do something better than what’s currently out there
- You’re ready to leave your job and go it on your own
- There’s a hole in the market you know you can fill it
If you said yes to any of these, your idea is ready to explore! Now it’s time to hit the ground running.
Having started two of our own businesses and worked with tradies, cafes, medical practices, business consultants and more, we’ve now been part of quite a few launches. And along the way, we’ve learned a lot.
Here is what we’ve done well, the things we wished we knew sooner, where to splurge and where to save.
Trust your gut, but don’t neglect your research
Starting any business is a leap of faith, but it can be a calculated leap.
Playing it smart means finding that middle ground between your instincts and what your research is showing up.
Before you get too invested in the exciting parts of launching a business (these are things like logos, starting an Instagram account and designing a shop fit-out), make sure you do your homework.
- Looking at your competitors and what they are doing
- Understanding what customers are willing to pay for similar products and services
- Knowing all the costs involved in starting your business
- Writing up some kind of business plan, even if it’s only a couple of pages long
Once you have all the facts on the table, you will have a really good idea of where you fit in the market. Use this information to make smart decisions and start testing out your idea further.
Ways to test an idea include…
Organising a market stall or pop-up to see how customers react to your product
- Hosting an event for people to try your service/product/food
- Creating a trusted circle of business connections who can give you honest feedback
And that leads us to the next point…
Surround yourself with the right people
Starting a business is really rewarding, but you’ll put unnecessary stress on yourself if you do everything alone. Even when you’re in startup mode stretching every cent as far as it can go, there are still ways to pull in help.
The best way to think of business is like a marathon (because you’re in it for the long haul). Having a running buddy or coach will keep you far more motivated than training solo.
At the start, outline what you can do yourself and where you’ll need help. We recommend outsourcing the things you know you cannot do or won’t have time for, such as…
- Accounting and bookkeeping
- Legal contracts
- Brand and web design
As well as professional support, don’t underestimate the importance of moral support. Places like The Business Centre here in Newcastle are the perfect way to connect with people who just get it. This is where we had our first Design Bug office and we met so many business owners who we still collaborate with to this day.
Don’t get caught up in things you don’t need
It’s exciting to have professional videos for your social accounts, a sleek office, heavyweight letterpress business cards and a website with all the bells and whistles. But do you need all those things to launch? Probably not.
We recommend starting out simply and growing from there. This gives you more time to focus on the business launch and allows you to evolve with the business.
Take your website as an example. Creating a complete website and doing it well takes time and financial investment, and when you’re starting out, both of those resources are precious. Instead, launch with a single-page website and expand it in a few months’ time when you have income in the bank and a clearer idea of how you’re helping your customers.
Work out what you need to get up the business and running and remember there will be plenty of opportunities in the future to pick up more office space, film more videos and upgrade those business cards.
And when you are ready to build that full website, here’s what to expect.
How we did it with our big idea, Swell Magazine
Our newest business baby launched late last year. It went something like this…
1. The idea to create a magazine celebrating Newcastle hit over coffee
2. We ran straight to the newsagency to take full advantage of the opportunity to buy magazines as ‘research’
3. The next day we pulled in a team of writers and photographers before we even had a name for the magazine
4. A few days later we decided to speak to the accountant before getting too far ahead of ourselves
5. We looked at our competitors again and had a good feeling about the idea
6. Then we made sense of the numbers, decided it was a realistic idea and prepped our families for the late nights ahead
7. Within a few days of this we had locked the design away (because that’s what we do best)
8. Then over the next few months, we blindly worked out everything else like distribution, launch parties, and pricing
9. The magazine launched in November and now we’re working on issue three!
With a deadline in place and a coffee tab at Culture Club to keep us going, we made it happen. If we hadn’t previously launched Design Bug and worked with other businesses, it would have been really easy to skip steps four, five and six, and get carried away in the excitement.
The print industry is a tough one to crack, but with the right people, Swell Magazine was born and the business has brought so many incredible opportunities our way. We splurged on our creative team, legal and accounting advice, and printing but took a DIY approach in other areas to balance the numbers.
Once you’ve got your ducks in a row, the fun begins! We’ll be sharing more tips on how to get your brand right over the coming months, but if you are looking for some pricing options to work off now, take a look at our logo packages.