1) What products/services do your clients need?
Never assume that you already know the answer to this. Keep finding out what it is the client is looking for and make sure you are able to provide it.
2) Where is the market?
Make sure you know where you want to set up your business. Will it be local, regional, national or internationally based? It’s all very well wanting to become a plumber, but not so good when the blocked pipe is 300 miles away in Manchester!
3) What is the market size?
Find out if there is demand for your business. Not everyone will need your service, but is there enough demand to warrant starting your business all the same?
4) What factors affect your market?
Make sure there isn’t any national or local legislation stopping you from setting up your business.
5) Who are your customers?
Whilst not everybody will need your custom, for those who do, try to understand them. What is important to them? What might seem small to you could be the clincher in the deal to the customer.
6) How can you satisfy your customers?
Try to accommodate your customers as much as possible. Make deliveries as easy as possible. The harder, trickier or more difficult things are, the quicker the client will look elsewhere.
7) Who are your competitors?
There is competition readily available, so don’t forget that your clients have a choice of where to go and spend their money. The trick is to know whom you are up against and how you can convince your customers that you are better.
8) What is special about you?
It is important to come across as attractive to the customer – after all, it’s their business you’re after. As well as being cheaper than your competitors, make sure you also provide good, traditional customer service.
9) What is your pricing structure?
Research how much your competitors are charging and see if you can match it, or even better, provide a discount.
10) How will you promote your business?
Try to stand out from the crowd. Learn who your target audience is and find out what they read and how you can approach them. Remember, you want them on your side, so the key is to be persistent, but not too pushy.
11) How much finance is needed?
All of the above will cost you money, so you need to work out your finances. Are there grants available? Word of mouth won’t be enough – you need to get out there and meet your target market!
For more great tips, read Going Self-Employed: How to Start Out in Business on Your Own – and Succeed by Steve Gibson.
by Steve Gibson
Assess whether you've got the right characteristics to make a success of self-employment.
Learn about business plans; survival income; discounting; researching your market; targeting your customers; listening to your customers and keeping them happy; marketing and selling; promoting your business; tax, national insurance and VAT.
Further help is provided by the author's own website www.startbusiness.co.uk from where readers can download software to help calculate their survival income, cashflow, and profit and loss, as well as access information about start-up ideas.
In addition, there's an "Online Directory" section with useful links to other websites.