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How to get your business off the ground

  • Great idea- check. Potential customers- check. Now what? We outline below what the key steps are in starting a business as well as some useful resources. Many of these resources are listed on Entrihub, so be sure to be signed up and logged in to follow the links.

    Choosing a name

    First things first- you’ll need to choose a name for your brand or business. Coming up with something catchy is hard enough, but you have to be careful not to use names/brands that are already in existence as this may cause you headaches further down the line. If you want to build an online presence, you’ll need to check if the appropriate domain names and social media handles are available. You can check websites like Go Daddy or Afrihost to check available domain names and reserve it. If you want to register your business as private company, then you’ll need to check if there are other registered business with that name. Although, you are allowed to register a business without a name (you’ll get a number) and you can list up to 4 options for possible names which costs R50 per name. More on registering a business later.  

    A logo is part and parcel of your brand. There are many free logo generators online or you can try sites like Fiverr (a hub of freelancers) that can create logos from R80. There are myriad of other offerings on Fiverr available as well.

    Strategy

    There is a saying that goes “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. Mapping out a plan for your business, before you jump head first into your new venture, forces you to think about various aspects of your business that you otherwise may not have. That being said, it need not be a comprehensive 50-page document, particularly if you just starting out. A one-page business model canvas will do the trick. Read more about it here.

    Business Incubators and Accelerator Programmes are amazing concepts to assist emerging entrepreneurs. They nurture companies during their early months by helping them to survive and grow through the difficult and vulnerable early stages of development. Learn more about incubators here and find one close to you by browsing through Entrihub listings.

    There are also numerous initiatives aimed at growing small business- find them listed here.  Business coaches and mentors are also great ways to get one-on-one feedback on your strategy. Find them here.  

    Money matters

    Depending on the type of business you have, it is probably best to have a separate bank account for your business. We compare the different offerings by banks for startups here.  Any entrepreneur will know that funding is usually the biggest challenge to overcome. However, institutions and initiatives designed to take on risk and funding opportunities for start-ups are abundant. Which type of financing you can potentially obtain will depend on where in the lifecycle your business is in. We’ve explained it all here. Different investors have different criteria and focus areas but we outline what typical aspects they are likely to look at here.

    Many of us are not au fait when it comes to accounting, but it is a necessary evil when running a business. Cloud accounting makes this a little easier and automatically prepares financial reports by analysing your bank statements. Find providers here.

    Building an online presence

    In this day age, your business definitely needs an online presence. At the very least, a Facebook page. Most of us are familiar with Facebook and it is fairly quick and easy to create a business page containing basic information of your company/brand.   

    A professional website is a better bet though. You can build one yourself with sites like Wix (there is a free version, premium plans start from $4.50 pm),  Shopify (starting from $9.50 pm) or Afrihost (starting from R75pm).

    Of course, social media is imperative. There are tons of material on how to devise an effective social media marketing strategy. Sites like Hootsuite will allow you to manage multiple platforms (like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin) in one place and preschedule your content. The free plan allows you to sync up to three social profiles. 

    We love sites like Canva to create our creative content. Its free and you don’t have to have be graphic designer.

    Operations

    Spending a small fortune every month on elite office space is not a feasible option for most SMEs, particularly startups. Luckily, there are many cost effective and flexible alternatives that cater to the needs of Entrepreneurs. Read more about alternative workspaces here and find one near to you by browsing through Entrihub listings

    Surrounding yourself with likeminded individuals is key for inspiration and collaboration. Consider joining one of the many entrepreneurial membership forums that focus on different industries and/or locations, all listed here. Attending events are great for networking too- find upcoming events in your areas here.   

    Regarding staffing, it may be difficult for start-ups to commit and employee a team full time. As such, many opt for freelancers. Find freelance platforms and other creative HR solutions for SMEs here.

    Not matter how much we think we know, there is always room to learn more. Consider signing up for training courses or attending upcoming workshops on a variety of topics to build or better manage your business.

    The legalities

    Starting a business is very exciting but one of the most important decisions you will have to make is a little less glamourous – choosing the correct legal structure for your business. The three options that are the most popular for Entrepreneurs: Sole Proprietorship, Partnership or Private Company. Read more about this here. A private company allows you to separate your personal and business assets along with a benefit of a lower tax rate. Did you know that you can register your company with CIPC completely online and it only costs R125?  Find out more here. In so doing, you also automatically registered with SARS.

    You would also need to consider other legal documentation such as Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policies, employment contracts etc. You can find some templates online but best to get in contact with lawyers that offer services to start-ups; you can find them here

    Conclusion

    There is a lot to consider when starting a business, luckily for us, there are ample support structures and innovations that make this journey a little easier- you just have to know where to look. Entrihub is here to help navigate the entrepreneurial landscape.

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