Allan Shine

Going out alone

Starting your own business is a daunting experience for many.  With a huge upsurge in start up businesses in the past 12 months, there are now so many avenues and organisations to explore when deciding is now the time to make the big leap.

Kildare is an excellent county to set up a business in.  Logistically, Kildare with its proximity to Dublin makes it the ideal location for setting up a business.  Kildare is renowned for its large companies such as Pfizer, Bord na Mona, Intel, Hewlett Packard and Kerry Foods.  The hospitality and equine industry is also well regarded and with further expansion plans with Kildare Village and further growth in the emerging ICT sector, 2015 promises to be an excellent year for business.

Going out alone will never be easy but with the support of LEO Kildare, North Kildare Chamber and Enterprise Ireland, starting a business is made much easier.

Planning and research is paramount to the success of any start up business.  New skills will be required.  When running your own business you will often need to do multiple jobs at once. You will need to be the marketing department, the IT department, human resources and everything else! Being forced to learn about things you wouldn’t have otherwise is a huge benefit of striking out on your own.

Mentoring is a necessity.  Been able to sit down with a person who has been there and done it.  A mentor will put you on the right road.  A mentor is there to provide you with all the information that is required when planning to start your new business.  I cannot stress the importance of engaging with the mentoring services that LEO Kildare and North Kildare Chamber provide.  Even the support of knowing that you can pick up the phone and ring these organisations for support is instrumental in the early days of business planning.

Now is the time to explore going out alone.  In many respects it has never been cheaper and more viable.  Office space is readily available, costs have drastically reduced , costs of fitting out an office or retail unit have reduced.  Skilled labour is available.  The support partner’s available in Kildare are second to none.   The opportunities to network and promote your business is readily available.  Financial supports are available through various organisations. LEO Kildare are supporting new start up businesses on a daily basis, the banks are available for funding, peer to peer lending is also a new alternative source of funding.  Government have an array of funding sources for new businesses.  The Chamber has a new exciting I Hub for start-up business. It also means that because of the low investment there is very little risk associated – so what do you have to lose?

One of the main fear for businesses is how will I promote my business.  Reaching customers is easier than ever.  It used to cost a fortune to try and get your brand out there and reach a potential customer base – no longer is this the case. Now you can use social media to target a specific customer base and find the influencers in your niche who can get the word out there to the customers who may actually be interested in your product/service. This doesn’t require a huge marketing budget but simply some investment of time and research along with some basic web savvy to find the right people for your business.

From dealing with people on a daily basis who are exploring the concept of starting up their own business, I always leave them with a few words of advice:

Test Your Business Idea

  • Have I got the right business skills?
  • Think about who will buy your product or service.
  • What is the benefit to them and how much will they pay?

Step 2: What About Market Research?

  • From the outset market research is essential in helping you to identify your target market and customers.
  • It will also help you to identify your competitors and how to compete effectively.
  • Research is also effective in assessing demand for a new product or service

Step 3: What are Your Business Requirements?

  • Have you considered the best location for the business?
  • Identify your basic equipment requirements and costs.
  • How many staff will you need to employ?
  • Identify your overhead costs e.g. insurance.
  • Can your business idea benefit from new technologies? e.g. by online selling.

Step 4: What are your Investment Requirements?

  • Identify all start-up and running costs associated with the business.
  • Identify ways of financing your business venture.
  • Seek financial support and benefit from direct referral to Government agencies.
  • Seek advice on other sources of support e.g. Banks, Credit Unions, Microfinance Ireland, family support, other non-bank finance.

Step 5: Developing your Marketing Strategy

  • Marketing your business idea is a fundamental aspect of starting up.
  • Research the most cost effective methods of marketing your business.
  • Write you Marketing Plan

Step 6: Developing your Sales Plan

  • How will you promote your product or service?
  • Who and where is your target market (local, national, international)?
  • What channels of distribution will be used?
  • Determine your selling price and break-even point.

Step 7: What is the best legal structure for you?

What type of company will allow you to make the best decisions for your business? You could be a:

  • Sole trader
  • Partnership
  • Limited Company

Step 8: Managing the risks

  • Starting a business is a big step to take.
  • A new business can be exciting. However, it can also be risky.
  • For some it means risking personal savings and secure employment.

Step 9: Avoiding Unnecessary Risks

  • Register your business name with the Companies Registration Office (CRO). Visit www.cro.ie
  • Be aware of your tax obligations and register with your local revenue office. Visit www.revenue.ie
  • Be aware of other statutory obligations such as trading licenses, planning permission, insurance, health & safety, patents, etc.
  • Be aware of your responsibilities under employment rights legislation.

Step 10: And Finally……Write your Business Plan

  • Business Planning is fundamental to success in business – managing the company, generating sales and growing jobs.
  • It is the key to getting things done and making things happen.
  • The finished business plan can be used as an operating tool that will help you to make important decisions and manage your business effectively.

And finally, never be afraid to ask for advice, contact the Chamber as we are here to support, protect, maintain and enhance business in the county.