Dream of starting your own business? Here’s how to lift your idea off the ground.

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change

May 16
Business Plan

Starting your own business is an increasingly popular choice for people who want a new direction in mid-life. Not surprising, as it offers you the promise of autonomy. And you can create a business that is well suited to your values, interests and skills.

Do YOU dream of starting your own business, but aren’t sure how to get your ideas off the ground?

I recently came away buzzing from attending the Workfest conference. It’s inspiring to spend a day immersed in the experiences of women who have started successful enterprises. Here is a round up of the top tips I took away from the day. And if after reading this, you have advice to add, please post a comment below.

  1. Write a business plan – it doesn’t have to be complex but it will help you think through your ideas, and you’ll need it if you want to raise external funding.
  2. Do your research – is there a market for your products and services? Design a questionnaire using a tool like Survey Monkey and get it out via social media and email. Don’t just ask your family and friends. Extend your research: reach out through your networks, and ask people to forward your survey on.
  3. Having a vision for your business is important, but not enough on it’s own. You also need a practical plan with concrete achievable steps to take in the next weeks and months.
  4. Be marmite, not vanilla. Work out who you really want to help our where you unique skills and experience could take you, and focus on that market. You can read my take on niching here.
  5. Be realistic about your financial forecasts. Most businesses won’t make a profit in the first year, and maybe not for several years, particularly if you plan to invest and grow in a sustainable way, or move beyond a freelance or hobby business and take on staff.
  6. Be selective in how you invest early on. You don’t need spend a fortune on your logo or stationery to start with, especially as you may want to tweak and develop your brand as you go.
  7. When you are looking for people to help you with your website, logo, accounts etc, try to go through personal recommendations. It doesn’t guarantee you’ll end up with a great supplier, but it does reduce the risk.
  8. Take action. If you are currently employed and want to start up, think about how you can bridge the gap towards your own enterprise. Can you start with a small pilot project to test an idea? Action is better than perfection; don’t wait until an idea is perfect before giving it a try, or you may never start.

Anything to add?  Please share your start up tips, or any questions, in the comments box (you’ll find it below the related articles section).

Wondering whether to start your own business?

Would you like some one-to-one support with changing direction and working for yourself?  My services include a two-hour Focus and Action mentoring session. This can help you if you already have a business ideas (or lots of ideas!) and need some focus and clarity to move forward.  

Or if you’re not sure what you want to do next, career coaching can help you consider a wide range of option.  

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Career Change Toolkit


Contemplating career change or job search can feel daunting. Download this free toolkit full of resources and tips to help you feel more confident about your next steps.

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About the Author

Felicity is a career coach. She help people who want to change career, start a freelance business, or build their confidence. Felicity writes about career and business development, leadership and personal effectiveness.

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