Updated: May 26
Throughout history the dream of starting your own business was for most people just that, a dream. There were just too many obstacles to tackle, never enough time, and the money to invest in your ideas slipped through your fingers like sand on the beach.
Thankfully times have changed. From personal experience of setting up two businesses over the last few years I know that there has never been a better time to get started and focus on your dream of being your own boss.
The below ideas include some steps Irish entrepreneurs can take to avail of government support grants and training from various organisations. However it really doesn’t matter what country you are based in, most of the steps below will apply to you and hopefully help direct your thoughts and energy toward building your business.
1) What do people think of my business idea?
Before taking the leap and committing time, money and resources, I would strongly advise you to have a chat with your friends and family about your idea. I know from personal experience that sometimes it is so hard to see past your own ultra optimistic perspective on your startup vision, that you can become blind to the flaws which others might see straight away.
It’s good to talk these ideas through and find out other people's perspective on them, while also using the opportunity to conduct some small scale market research on your idea.
A lot of people get bogged down by trying to find that elusive, flawless and unique business idea that they miss the opportunity right under their nose. Stop trying to be the next Elon Musk when your skills lie elsewhere. Maybe you can turn your home woodworking projects into a new business and start selling your creations online. Or maybe you’re a fountain of knowledge when it comes to Fantasy Football and you see an opportunity to monetize your skills in helping others rise up the ranks in their own fantasy football leagues. The point is you have skills and interests that you can focus on and build a business around today.
2) Writing a business plan
"What is a business plan?" you might ask. Well, it is effectively your written strategy or road map for the business which will help guide the vision you have for it, and can help you focus on the direction you have set out for your business. Essentially it is a detailed document that follows the same structure no matter what the business. A typical business plan would follow a topic structure such as:
Title Page and Contents
Description of the Business
Description of the Product or Service
Operations and Management
Financial Components of Your Business Plan
Writing a business plan is a fantastic way to determine if your business idea is viable. The simple act of having to consider all aspects of your product/service, the competitors in your niche, researching the demand for what you will be offering and forecasting your sales is extremely helpful.
You can download some great business plan templates here on the Local Enterprise Office website.
I would also advise getting into the habit of thinking about your idea using our free
3) Registering your business name
If you’re anything like me, you’ll have an idea of the business name you want to go with early on. I guess when you are thinking about your idea a lot and talking through it with close friends and family it’s inevitable that some names are thrown around.
Before buying your ideal business name and making things official, you will need to consider what type of business structure you want to go with. In Ireland the two most popular choices are deciding between a limited company or becoming a sole trader.
Effectively the type of business you are setting up, your immediate financial resources or capital, the industry you will be operating in and also how advanced your business plan is will determine which option you choose. My advice would be to ask your accountant to help you decide, and especially take their advice into consideration if you decide that the limited company path is for you. They will be able to do a lot of the leg work and take the stress out of the setup process.
If you don’t have an accountant, there are plenty to choose from in your locality. Just Google “accountants near me” and start calling them to find the one that fits your needs best. If you want some help finding a good accountant get in touch with us and we will be happy to recommend someone for you.
So with all of that in mind, let’s make things real and secure your business name. If you’re in Ireland the place to do this is with the Companies Registration Office (CRO). The process couldn’t be easier and you can do it all online.
4) Get a business bank account
This step is pretty self explanatory. You are the best person to determine which bank best fits your needs, but to help a little with the process (especially if you live in Ireland) websites like the ones listed below are fantastic resources to help compare what the banks are offering.
5) Designing your branding
For all you creative types out there, I know this is the part you have been waiting for. And, I know from experience that this part can be a bit distracting. For example when setting up a previous business, I spent 80% of my time pondering my logo, the name of the business, colour schemes, and trying to make sure it looked good to potential customers! I am by nature creatively driven, so this was a very alluring and very distracting part of the process for me.
That said, branding is very important. It can mean the difference between someone taking one look at your logo on your shop window and choosing to come in or not. This obviously translates into potential lost sales before you even get a chance to talk to the customer. There are resources out there which enable you to throw a quick logo together, but I would recommend having a professional designer with experience in putting a brand package together, doing the work for you. I guess it depends on what industry your business is in, if it is a very visually led product or service you will be offering and of course if you can afford to have a professional designer do the work for you.
Branding is so much more than creating a logo, although that is part of the branding process. Branding is building an identity for your business, and can be compared to helping a teenager navigate his or her way through to adulthood!
We do offer Branding and Positioning Analysis on our website if you need someone to help you in this area, so don’t be shy!
6) Secure a website address
Your website address, also called your domain name, is pretty easy to purchase and in today’s world I would say it is essential to get your business online where you can claim your very own cyber real estate and a place to call home.
Firstly, a domain or domain name is in simple terms your address on the internet. So if you don’t have a domain name you will need to buy one.
You can Google “how to buy a domain name” to find a list of hosting companies. There are plenty out there that can help you secure your domain name and if you are in Ireland, you will want to make sure you have the .ie. The process is fairly simple. Solid Consulting is not a hosting company but we can get that box ticked for you as part of the branding and positioning analysis as well as having a website built by our team.
There are plenty of hosting companies in Ireland who can help you buy your .ie address. For more information on buying a domain in Ireland go to Weare.ie, the official website of the national registry for .ie domain names. Their official list of accredited companies who you can purchase your own domain name from is the best I have come across. You can find it here.
For me personally, I use hostingireland.ie and I have found them to be very easy to use, reliable, cost effective and their website is very easy to get around and find what you are looking for.
7) Have a website built
The best way to think of a properly built and maintained website is that it is effectively an employee of your business, or a very important tool. A well maintained website will get your business in front of potentially thousands of customers every day via search engines. It can drive in a steady stream of leads taking the heat of whoever is manning the phones, and at the same time it can filter out all the so called tire kickers and people who really just want to have a chat rather than a conversation leading to a sale. It can act as a showroom to showcase your company and previous work.
Website designers are easily found on any search engine and they can specialise in different types of websites, or websites for different industries. So it is worth shopping around and getting a few quotes before you commit to one designer. There are also platforms like Shopify which empower you, the business owner and give you the opportunity to build your own website using templates. Shopify specialises in ecommerce type business, and may not suit your particular needs.
I have built my own website on Shopify for another business, and as good as it was, I again found myself in that trap where my time was being drained by overthinking creative issues.
My advice would be to hire professionals to do what they are good at, therefore freeing up your time to focus on the bigger plan. One of the keys to success in business in my opinion is to let go of trying to do everything yourself, and delegate. There are plenty of professionals out there who specialise in website design, and they will do a fantastic job for you in a fraction of the time it would take you to do it. Delegation should be applied to all aspects of your business.
Feel free to send me an email if you are interested in having a chat about website design as part of a business growth package with Solid Consulting. We would be more than happy to help guide you.
8) Funding and advice
In Ireland we are quite lucky to have some organisations like the Local Enterprise Office to help and provide support for start up businesses throughout the country. The Local Enterprise Office can get you set up with a business mentor (something I would highly recommend) who will offer guidance and direct you to other resources available to you and your business. They offer training, grants and mentoring for the budding entrepreneur so this is a great place to start.
My last tip is something that a lot of small businesses neglect or even fail to take into consideration for various reasons. Bookkeeping is simply the process of recording financial transactions for a business. If going through your receipts and keeping track of your bills and invoices whilst putting together your cashflow and projections reports seems like torture to you, then you will need someone to do this for you. Luckily there are plenty of bookkeeping businesses and freelancers out there more than willing to help out. And to tie in with this you can get your hands on some great software to help with the bookkeeping. Quickbooks and Xero are two of the most popular and widely used.
Bookkeepers may also share some jobs with accountants, such as the preparation of annual financial reports and tax returns. Accountants and bookkeepers can help you get your finances on track and set your business off on the path to profitability.
With regards to accountants I would highly recommend contacting a few to find one that you feel comfortable working with. Some accountants specialise and focus on a particular industry and may not be able to guide you as well as someone who has a few clients with businesses like yours.
My tips outlined above are just some of the things you should be doing and taking into account when you are exploring your opportunities. But the journey has just begun! Starting a business can be one of the most rewarding and challenging times of your life, and a fantastic opportunity to forge your own path.
We at Solid Consulting have a number of services geared to help drive your business forward, and our network of partner businesses and like minded individuals are here to help you in your journey. If you feel like you could do with some guidance or help on your journey please get in touch and we can have a chat to see what we can do for you.
Let’s move your business forward together.