Have you ever dreamt of starting a new business? Does the daily grind get you down and you wish you could be the boss of your own place? Maybe it’s a burger bar that you’ve always wanted to own or a bodybuilding gym. Or it could be you have a brilliant idea for a start-up or new product has been circling in your head for years. If you want 2018 to be the year that you go for your dreams, then read these top tips for starting your own business first.

Research the competition

Before embarking on a new business venture, it pays to do careful research on the competition. If you have a great idea for a restaurant and you’re sure it will be the best diner in town, first go and check out the others on offer. Sample their food, assess their customer service, look at their social media and marketing, and work out what they are doing right and what could be improved. It will help you to ensure that your business follows the right path and doesn’t make the same mistakes others have. Try to ensure that your business offers something new too, a unique selling point so that it will stand out from the crowd.

Plan ahead

In the early days of imagining and planning a new business the skies the limit! However, once you begin to get serious about next steps, take a real look at where you hope your business will be in five and ten years time. Make a five-year business plan to help manage your company. Sound business plans are also vital when seeking loans or investment, as investors need to know you have thought through all the pitfalls and have clear and achievable goals in mind. You should also take into account any storage your new venture may need. If you are investing in expensive equipment but don’t have a fixed premise, a self storage facility is an ideal way of keeping it safe and secure.

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Sort your finances

Every start-up will need money. Even if you can cut your initial business costs down to a minimum, you will still need an initial investment or personal funds to get it off the ground. You could approach a bank for a loan, ask investors to buy in, run a crowdfunding campaign, take a personal loan or re-mortgage your property. Bear in mind that re-mortgaging places a huge risk on your new venture, and as new businesses don’t always go to plan at first it may be best to steer clear of involving you and your family’s financial future at this stage.

Franchise or expand

Once your business is up and running and is doing well, you may want to look at expanding. There are a few different routes. You could become a franchise, selling your business model to investors who then have the right to use your model, signage, and product, running to agreed standards. It can be a great way to spread your business and bring in revenue. Or you could expand the business yourself, taking it to other cities or even overseas. Before venturing into the overseas market, ensure you do thorough research there so that you know there is a market for your business.

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