Looking to start a business, but not sure how? This comprehensive day-by-day guide will help you get your unique idea out into the marketspace.
Do you need some inspiration on business ideas? Be sure to check out our article covering just this here.
We’ll look at these tasks in a weekly overview and then drill down into the daily tasks to complete, to stay on track. An important note for all entrepreneurs is this- make sure to document all brainstorming and anything to do with your business. It will only help when it comes to your having to formalise your strategies & plans.
Let’s get right into the planning-
Week 1 : Strategise & Plan
In the first week of starting your business, it’s important to focus on strategies & planning. You’ll also be focusing on legalities, research and setting up your online presence.
Day 1: What are you offering?
Take stock of what exactly you’re offering. This is important because it will help you target the right people for your product or service. Also isolate who needs what you’re offering. Write all of this information down – when it comes to crafting your business plan, it will help to have record of your process.
It’s also important to write a goal to be achieved by the end of the month. This will keep your efforts on track and help you achieve what you’ve set out to do- start a business! This article is an interesting read and gives some great insight into goal setting. Try it, it works!
Day 2: Time to strategise
Think about what your business should look like, which markets you’ll be operating in and what kind of presence you’d like to emulate online. It’s a good idea at this stage to research some brands that you admire and isolate what about those brands you could incorporate into your business idea. A great app to use for this is Pinterest.
Today is about focusing on the big picture and don’t forget to write everything down!
Day 3: Location, location, location
Decide where your offices will be located. Are you working from home or do you need to find premises? Also ensure you work out the budget required for office rentals, equipment, technology and other needs your business will have. Once you’ve understood your budget, research what’s available as far as premises go. An excellent place to start is Property24.
Day 4: Time to set up a budget
Perhaps one of the most dreaded task for entrepreneurs, but a necessary evil nonetheless. Figuring out what your start-up costs are will help you understand what kind of funding you’ll need to raise. Retrieve your budget from day 3 and include this with your forecast. You’ll need to split your budget into 2 categories- expenses & assets. Expenses are thing like payroll, rentals, legal costs and marketing expenses. Assets would include items like buildings, vehicles, equipment, inventory etc.
Day 5: Planning
Day 5 is all about planning the direction of your business. This won’t include writing your business plan just yet. Things to think about are:
- Your business identity (name, colours, logos etc.) – don’t worry about design yet, this will come later
- The steps you’ll take to get your business up-and-running
- Preliminary budget and
- Sales forecast
These things are important aspects to any business and most certainly need some forethought before you take steps to actually starting your business.
Day 6: Market research
Market research isn’t only about researching competitors. It also includes aspects of the market that you’d like to tap into (your target market) and knowing what the market share is for your business. For example, if you’re starting a stationary supply business, it’s important to know that in 2019 this market in South Africa was worth R39.3 billion.
For more information on how to conduct competitor research, check out this resource.
Day 7: Legalities
Today it’s time to choose your business structure. In South Africa, we have the The Companies Act of 2008 that governs business legalities. This resource on the differing structures you can register is very informative and will come in handy today.
It’s also important to be aware that any company with 5 or more employees needs to comply with the Department of Labour’s various laws. If you’ll be hiring employees, it’s vital to ensure their safety. Here’s an article on Health & Safety in the workplace which can help you further plan for this eventuality. Feel free to also check out our legal posters here for an idea of pricing (which will assist in your budgeting.)
To register your business with CIPC, simply follow this link.
Week 2: Funding
This week you’ll focus on all things finance related. This aspect is important to any start-up as it dictates your growth. This week you’ll be working on your pitch, business plan and researching funding options.
Day 8: Write your pitch
Your pitch is the precursor to your business plan. It’s a simple one-pager that describes your operational plan and focuses on the core aspects of your business. Its purpose is to distill your plan down to the essentials and provide a great starting point for when you’ll be writing your full business plan. So, what do you include in your pitch? Things to cover are-
- A description of the problem customers have (include relevant data)
- The solution (your product/service that solves the problem)
- Business model (how you plan on making money; include sales and production costs and the price you’ll be selling your service/product for)
- Target market analysis- Use the TAM,SAM,SOM model to understand your target market
- What is your competitive advantage? In other words, how are you different from your competition?
- Describe your management structure (ideal candidates, gaps, roles etc.)
- Financial summary- this can be gleaned from your budget written on day 4
- Funding required and what this funding will be used for. As with all funding, you’ll need to provide investors with great returns. Either offering them licensing options or equity in your business can work.
Days 9 & 10: Work on your business plan
Now it’s time to expand on your pitch and create your business plan. All of the research you’ve done up to this point will be compiled into a document that highlights what your business is about and how it will operate.
The purpose of a business plan is to help communicate a roadmap to starting your business. It provides important insights into what resources you’ll need, steps to be taken and what gaps exist in the market.
We suggest that you update your business plan annually to navigate new opportunities and to highlight areas that need improvement.
To write your own business plan, this link is very helpful. Don’t have the time to set up your business plan document? Make use of our start-up document template set that includes an excellent business plan layout with additional information to help you along the way.
Day 11: Research funding options
How will you fund your business? Will you use your own money or approach investors? There are options where you could approach your friends and family for funding too. In any event, a great place to start looking for outside investment is this article listing investors in South Africa for SMEs.
Days 12 & 13: Begin funding applications
Start figuring out how you’ll get the funding you’ve decided on, on day 11. Call the bank, apply online (check out LulaLend as a possibility.) Set up meetings with investors or speak to relatives. Whatever you’ve decided on, days 12 & 13 are for putting those decisions into action.
Day 14: Elevator pitch
Your elevator pitch is a refinement on your one-page pitch (completed on day 8.) Rework the key elements of your pitch and include short summaries from your business plan. For a more detailed description of writing your elevator pitch, we’d suggest this resource.
Week 3: Financial
This week you’ll focus on financial issues such as insurances, how you’ll get paid and if you need to hire. You’ll also focus on your online presence.
Day 15: Getting paid
You’re half-way there! Congratulations on making it this far! Now to consider how you’ll get paid during your new venture. After all, a business needs to have cash on hand in order to survive. Make a list of suppliers and vendors you’ll be using and set up credit policies with them. This will help you manage your business’ cash-flow. Also determine what types of payment you’ll take and how payments can be made to you.
Day 16: Insurance
Insurance has helped many a business in testing times. There are a variety of insurances you can look into. It’s best to speak to a professional and outline your business operations and assets. The insurance professional will then be better equipped to provide you with an all-inclusive quote.
We do suggest that you shop around though as not all insurers are the same. At the outset of starting a new business, conserving funds should be a primary goal. This means that you’ll have to do some research and find the right insurance policy that’s right for you. A great starting point is comparing insurance plans through Hippo.co.za
Day 17: Employees
Day 17 should be spent considering if you need to hire any employees in your business. If you find you do need employees, make sure to write a list of what’s required and which qualifications you’re looking for in your employees. Put the word out on places like LinkedIn or Facebook if you’re looking for a cost effective way of advertising positions (days 19 & 20 deal with setting up your online presence.)
If hiring someone isn’t an option but you need assistance with certain tasks, consider contacting us with your needs. We have a large database of trusted freelancers who we can connect you with, as and when needed.
Day 18: Branding
Today you’ll delve into branding your business. Branding is no simple task, but with the 7 steps listed in this article, you’ll be well on your way.
Days 19 & 20: Establish an online presence
Having an online presence is non-negotiable these days. With so many consumers purchasing online, you’ll be missing out on a large share of the market if your business isn’t online. Building your online presence includes a website and social media channels.
A website is an excellent way of telling customers you’re professional and open for business. It’s your business’ portfolio that showcases relevant information to consumers. You can, of course, build your own website from scratch if you have the time and patience to do so. If you need a professional website built ASAP, we can help! Contact us with your needs and budget and we’ll help you set this up in no time.
If you aren’t in the market for a website just yet, we would highly recommend going the social route. It’s free and with the right content, you’ll attract an organic audience. Be sure to reserve your business name on the social media channels of your choice. To find out which social channels will work best for your business, check out this information on SproutSocial.
Day 21: Advertising
Advertising is important because it gets your name out into the marketspace. There are various ways of advertising and you can really get creative here. Some ideas include making use of advertising services, getting featured in local news, making your own content for online distribution, using social media channels and more.
Week 4: Start selling
Now’s the time to start selling. This can include making cold calls and compiling your own database of contacts. Let’s take a deeper look at what this week holds for your start-up:
Day 22: Uncover your USP
A USP (unique selling point) is a must for any business.
An effective USP directly addresses a specific need that your company’s ideal customer faces. It’s what makes you different and sets you apart from your competitors.
Some things to consider when drafting your USP motivation include-
- Describing your ideal audience
- Explaining the problems your business solves
- The biggest benefits a client gets from choosing to work with you that they could not get from someone else
- Define your promise / client pledge
Once you’ve got this info down, refine your USP and condense it into 1 sentence.
Think DeBeers – “A diamond is forever”
Days 23 & 24: Introduce yourself
Now’s the time to do your research and make a list of potential contacts. For example, let’s say you’re starting a business that sells flowers in the Cape Town CBD area. Your best bet in this instance is to perform a simple web search to find eligible businesses in your area. This could be hotels, restaurants or property rental companies. Give these businesses a call and find out who the right person is to chat to about what you offer.
An important thing to do before you make contact is to create a simple pitch before phoning potential clients. A pitch could look something like this (additional information included to explain the process)
“Hi (Customer name)
My name is Sue and I’m calling from Flowerful (introduce yourself and your company).
We offer a variety of fresh flowers, delivered daily to your door (USP is communicated).
I saw online that you make use of fresh flowers in your business and I’d love to find out if I could send you more information on what we offer (glean email address for further communication).”
It’s important to keep these pitches short as most people don’t have a long attention span and may miss important information if you’re explaining too much. If you find a client who is happy to engage then of course, do chat!
Day 25: Follow ups
Now it’s time to follow up on the pitches you made. Follow ups should happen if one of 2 things occur- firstly, someone showed interest or secondly someone didn’t respond to your outreach. In both cases a simple follow up email or phone call can work. If you’d like to find out if someone is interested when they haven’t responded to your outreach, you could simply ask them if they’ve received the information you sent. If they say yes, ask if there’s anything else they need in order to engage your services. This method is very broad and you will refine this over time to what works for your business.
Days 26 & 27: Build & maintain relationships
Days 26 & 27 will focus on how you can build and maintain customer relationships. Some ideas could be recording their birthday and sending them a card on the day or offering discounts for loyalty. A simple “thank you” for their support also goes a long way in keeping customers loyal.
Day 28: Accounting
For businesses that need to keep an eye on their costs, we’ve developed a set of accounting document templates that can assist in getting you on your feet. You can view those here.
Day 29: Create a schedule
Creating a schedule is very important for entrepreneurs. It keeps you accountable as well as ensures you stay focused. Today is all about planning your weekly schedule. This should include time for reaching out to potential clients and doing follow ups. Depending on how much of the business you are doing yourself, we suggest writing a list of target areas you need to focus on and then splitting those up into workable times during the week. For example, items that may need to be attended to weekly could include:
- Online presence
- Product development and research
Day 30: Review
You’ve done it! A hearty congratulations from us at Adworth! This is the beginning of great things. On this day, we suggest you take it easy- you’ve earned it. While you may not be able to shut off completely, it’s good to take some time out to just think about how far you’ve come.