The six Cs you need to successfully start up a new business are:
If you want to create a new and original business, you need to be creative. You also need friends or colleagues with creative minds, with whom you can bounce your ideas around and find new ways of doing things. You'll need to come up with a range of options for what your business is going to be, what you are going to do and how you're going to do it. You'll need to collect ideas to help you decide on the business name, logo and other things that will be your business 'brand'.
But it is your business so you are the decision-maker. You must choose the best logo, brand and approach for your business and once your business is up and running, you're the one who'll need to be creative in dealing with problems as they arise, find ways to increase your client base and/or come up with ideas for exploring new markets.
In the early planning stages of your business idea you need a common-sense approach. Do some research to work out whether there's a gap in the market for the goods or services you want to sell; or whether there are already other people selling what you want to sell, in which case you may need to work out how you can make what you're selling a bit different to all the rest. Think about what it will cost to set up and run your business, whether you can afford it, and the targets you'll have to meet in order to cover your costs and start to earn a profit. If you work out these things before starting up your business, you're far more likely to succeed.
A lot of small businesses founder during their first year. When starting up a business, make sure you've got a 'Plan B' on the sidelines just in case 'Plan A' doesn't work out, so if your business does stumble or fall, you'll be able to survive and move on.
It takes a lot of courage to start up your own business, especially if doing so means leaving your paid job. It takes a little less courage if your new business doesn't have to be your sole source of income; for example, if you've got a financial back-up plan, such as a partner who can support you, if needs be, during the first year of running your business.
It takes courage to learn to do all the new things you have to learn to run a business: network with other businesses and staff; deal with clients or customers; be professional and confident with clients, customers and colleagues when you are only just starting to work out what being 'professional' is. It takes courage to withstand the setbacks that will happen, to realise and admit it when you make a mistake, to take the small risks that are necessary when running a small business, and to maintain your integrity no matter what.
Once you start up your business, you'll be flat out learning the ropes of business management at the same time as working to earn enough money to keep the business afloat. You may not be able to take a holiday, or even weekends off, for months. You probably won't be able to spend as much time as you'd like with family or friends. You need to be very committed to your business to put in those long hours.
You also need to be really resilient. There will be busy times when you think how well you are going, then quiet times where you wonder if you've done something wrong or whether your business is going down the drain. Just remember: 'all these things too shall pass'. During the peaks, work hard but keep a semblance of work-life balance. During the troughs, continue to work hard improving your website or shopfront, or doing promotions. Your commitment will pay off in the long run.
As issues and trends change, you need to change the way you present your business, or even your business focus, to meet the needs of your customers. Nowadays, it's important to keep your website and social media pages alive and very active because customers expect you to have very strong online presence and to be able to respond to their queries straight away. If you don't, they may just go elsewhere. It's also important to keep your website well-presented and easy to navigate using iphones because these days, that's where most of your customers will be looking for you.
To run a business successfully you need to be very good at communication: listening, talking and writing.
Communication is a two-way street. Really listen to what the other person says. Only interrupt them to ask questions if that is their preferred style of communication. Customers come from all walks of life so you need to be able to listen to people from different cultures and backgrounds and understand different accents and styles of speech. You also need to be able to speak in the style that best suits the person to whom you are speaking (e.g. an executive director uses a different style of speech than a high school student).
Write with your audience in mind, and with the intention of getting your message across. Write in plain language. Don't use 'fluffy' words: say what you mean. Make sure your writing is well-edited so it is well-presented and professional. Edit emails carefully to make sure there are no spelling or grammatical errors. Self-edit your reports or submissions then ask someone else to edit and/or proofread them, to ensure they're error-free.
Stay posted for my future articles where I'll be talking about communicating effectively (both in writing and verbally) at different levels and across cultures.
For more information about some of the things you need to start up an online business go to: Starting up an online business
This article is based on my own experiences since starting On Time Typing as a small (sole trader) online/onsite scribing business in 2002 which has evolved into an online scribing, writing, editing and proofreading business.