10 Tips for starting your own business

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that finding a job in this economy is a toughie. That’s why so many South Africans are taking the entrepreneurial route and starting their own business. And it’s never too early to get going.

Whether it’s running a hair salon from your lounge, catering events for family and friends or even running a company’s social media account, here is some practical advice for running your own successful business.

  1. Make sure there is a demand for your product or service.  There’s no point in starting your own cat grooming biz if no one in your area owns a cat.
  2. Talk to someone with relevant experience.  Want to make money from dressmaking?  Chat to someone who’s been there, done that. Ask them about their biggest challenges, the mistakes they made and their best advice.
  3. Make use of free resources. When you’re starting out, you want to spend as little money as possible. So use your local or school library to for research.  Ask family and friends for equipment and an area to work from.
  4. Work out how much money you need to really get started.  Put together a budget on how much it will take every month to buy supplies, get transport, contact clients etc.
  5. Approach investors with your business plan. Now that you know how much money you need, work out how many customers you need a month to make a profit and what you will charge them for your services.  If you need help getting started – ask for a loan from family or friends and work out how you will pay them back over time with a little extra (also known as ‘interest’).
  6. Pay attention to the right subjects in school. Want to be a tour guide? Then Geography and History are your friends.  Want to write for a living? Study languages and History, which gives you good essay writing experience.  Want to be a chef?   Take Home Economics.  Love computers and the internet? Information Science is for you.
  7. Don’t give up! Some of the most successful entrepreneurs failed in their first missions. The trick is not to give up and to learn from your mistakes.   Hard work is the key!
  8. Grow relationships. You never know who can help you get to the top.  Spend time with people you trust.  Ask them questions and be prepared to help them out too.
  9. Save the money you make. The first time you turn a profit you may be tempted to spend it on those new shoes that have been talking to you. Don’t. Use some of it to keep your business going and put the rest in a savings account.
  10. Monitor your progress. The only way to know how well you’re doing is to keep track of your progress.  Create monthly reports on the money you spent, the money you made, the clients you had and the work you did.