In Case you are doubting yourself on starting small, just remember that 98 percent of all businesses in Kenya are Small and medium enterprises (SMEs). You could be having a unique business idea, or you could be working towards financial independence, designing your career or probably just investing in yourself. These are some of the reasons one opts to start a small business.
However, staying in business is not a smooth ride for any small enterprise, in fact it is estimated that only two third of businesses survive the second year in operation; and only half of these small businesses survive a fifth year. Therefore, beyond starting a business, one must have a plan to keep it. Here are some steps help you succeed in keeping your business.
- 1. Research
After identifying the business idea, try to balance it with existing realities. Try validation of your idea through research. Identify if there is need for your product/service, who you are planning to serve, identify other companies offering the same products or services, study your competition and how your business gets to fit in the market.
- 2. Make a Business plan
For any business to become a reality, a business plan is needed. This is the blueprint that gets to guide your business from a small start-up to a grown establishment. You can opt for a simple one-page business plan if you are not planning to seek financial support elsewhere, or you can make the traditional plan which is a bit thorough if you are planning to raise funds through investors.
- 3. Plan your finances
You might not require a lot of money to start up a small business, but initial investment and the ability to take care of expenses before turning a profit will be crucial. You’ll need to prepare a spreadsheet that will show the start-up costs (permits and licenses, legal fees, insurance, equipment, market research, branding, inventory, property leases etc.)
Also put a plan for what you’ll need to keep your business in motion for at least 12 months (rent, supplies, marketing & advertising, employee salaries, utilities etc.).
- 4. Business structure
You will need to choose your business structure; it can either be a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC) or a corporation. The structure you choose will determine your liability and how you get to file your taxes. Any initial business structure can be reevaluated as the business grows.
- 5. Choose a business name.
Think through a business name, after settling on one, check if the name is currently in use elsewhere. Check name availability at www.ecitizen.com (if you plan to build your business in Kenya) you can reserve the name if confirmed and register your business.
- 6. Get Licenses and Permits
Get to know which business permits and licenses will be required for your specific business and the costs for acquiring the same. Cost of the permits and licenses will depend on the scale of your business, or type of business and the county where you’d like to get the permit.
- 7. Choose Your Accounting System
Having systems in place has often led to effective running of small businesses. An accounting system is essential for any small business for creation and management of budget, prices and rates setting, filing of taxes etc. you have an option of setting up an accounting system for yourself or hiring an accountant for that matter.
- 8. Set Up Your Business Location
Whether it is a home office, shared office space or even a retail space, setting up a place to run your business is very important. Ensure that the location you choose works well with your type of business. A business location gives you legitimacy alongside other positive things.
- 9. Get Your Team Ready
Decide on the positions that will be needed to be filled in your business, in case you are planning to hire employees, and outline the responsibilities for each position.
If you will be going solo and not in need of employees, still you will need to build a support team; could be a mentor, a business coach or even your family. Just someone you can go to seek support or advise when things get a bit rough.
- Promote Your Small Business
Now that your business has started running, you will need to work on attracting clients. Begin by creating a marketing plan and a write a unique selling proposition (USP). You will need to effectively promote your business by exploring different marketing ideas.These beginner activities lay a good ground for a successful start-up. But remember it will take you time to build something formidable. Patience, focus and hard work will be needed in this journey.