Entrepreneur, CEO and former contestant on The Apprentice, Bianca Miller has given her top five business tips to help budding business owners on their way to success.
Following new research from Microsoft Office which shows not knowing where to start is holding back 13% of young Brits from going forward with their business dreams, Miller is hoping to help out the youth of today so they can go forth and live their entrepreneurial lives…
- Invest in the right technology and software - Setting yourself up with a laptop, phone, internet connection and software is crucial. You will need this to engage and communicate with your clients, as well as for working on your business plan, financial plan and also building your online brand and website. The cost of getting it wrong is far too great so it's really important that you invest.
- Create a business plan - When doing so you should research the idea and consider the following few things - firstly, where does it fit in the market and who are your customers? Secondly, where will they find you and how much are they willing to spend? And finally who are your competitors and how do you differ from them? Within your business plan you should have a section on marketing where you consider how to tell people that you exist! Consider how you will use social media. What kind of PR could you carry out to raise awareness for your idea, and where else to market your product or service? It is important to invest in and build your brand - as a new entrepreneur a lot of your early adopters will engage you because of 'you'… so invest in your personal brand to ensure that people are aware of who you are, what you stand for and why you have created this new business. The 'millennial thinking' generation love to hear the story of the person behind the brand, they want to know who you are and why they should buy from you - use your story to promote the brand!
- Plan your finances - Create two spreadsheets - a 'Personal Survival Budget' which is only for you, documenting how much money you need to survive over the coming months, and a 'Business Only' spreadsheet to help you consider your fixed monthly costs to get the business off of the ground with realistic assumptions on your potential revenue. Then work out how much money you need for the next 12-18 months and think about how you will raise the finance you require.
- Choose a name for your business - The name of your business is not the be all-end-all, but a name is important in allowing you to start the branding process. Think of a name which stands out that is unique and can be trademarked in the future. Whilst you are choosing the brand name you will want to check the website domain name and social media handles are available and register them. This prevents you from choosing a business name, starting the branding process then realising it's been taken by someone else already. When you've done that, register the business by choosing between sole trader, limited company or partnership.
- Consider the importance of your brand - Both online and offline. How you communicate is crucial to your brand development. Remember my rule: you get seven seconds to make a first impression - so make yours a good one. Networking is a great way to build your brand offline as it involves you getting out there and telling your customers you exist. Bring your face to face network onto social media - both audiences are very important. Follow up with people you have networked with for meetings or calls. Skype allows you to network with anyone in the world, so make sure to use the technology you have to build your opportunities. Consider partnerships and affiliates - this might be people with whom you have no direct competition but have potential synergy or similar customers. There may be opportunities to cross-advertise or work collaboratively to increase opportunities and make your marketing spend go further.
Bonus Tip: Start selling and get feedback - Start selling your product or service. Remember 'feedback is a gift'… you may not always feel like it but negative feedback will help you improve, while positive feedback tells you what you are doing well. So listen! Testimonials are a great way to build the credibility of your business, ask customers to submit feedback via LinkedIn as this shows the legitimacy of their testimonial. Once you have gained some good ones you'd like to share, you can post them to your website and social media accounts. Referral based business is one of the best forms of marketing and the cheapest .. Do an excellent job and let the client spread the word for you!
Bianca Miller is working with Microsoft Office365 on the #My365 campaign to help budding entrepreneurs to get their business idea off the ground in as little as 365 hours (15 days). You can view Bianca 's video tips at www.microsoft.co.uk/my365
Tagged in The Apprentice