Don’t start a business (until you’ve read this)

A lot of people play around with the idea of starting their own business, but the process of working out what steps to take can immobilize some. Having a great business idea is only the very start. It all comes down to action; who is going to take their idea and run with it? Starting a new business is an adventure, but before excitement turns to disappointment, here is some advice you should keep in mind.

1. What’s in a name:
Think of a few options for your business name that’ll suit your business and its products or services. You’ll need to choose one with an available trademark and internet domain name. Do a trademark search of your proposed name. If the new business is going to be housed in a company, you will need to check and reserve the company name with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC). If it’s available, reserve your company name with the CIPC and make sure to purchase the web address if it’s going to use the same name.

2. We all need structure:
There are a variety of structures to choose from when starting a business. The most common private business structures include sole proprietorship, partnership, private and personal liability companies. The structure you choose will dictate your tax, legal and financial responsibilities as a business owner. Because of these implications, you’ll need to make sure you understand the options available to you and weigh the pros and cons before choosing a business structure.

3. The right side of the law:
Taking that proverbial leap of faith and establishing your own business is hard enough; the last thing you need is some technical legal or administrative detail to stand in your way. You’ll need to understand what regulations your business will need to follow, licenses you’ll need to obtain and taxes you will need to pay. Do some research on your own, but it is advisable to enlist the help of a lawyer or an accountant to confirm your understanding and ensure compliance with the law. Regardless of how frustrating, time-consuming and expensive the world of rules and regulations can be for a business owner, it’s better to be on the right side of the law.

4. Money, money, money:
How are you going to fund your business, and will it make money? A good place to start is with a business plan, including a profit/loss forecast and a cash flow analysis. When you are looking for business funding options, you’ll be asked to present this plan and any existing financial records. It is therefore strongly advisable to keep your personal and business finances separate; this will also help you avoid headaches further down the road.

5. A numbers game:
How are you going to manage the accounting and bookkeeping aspects of your business? Answering this question will be important in helping you avert future failure. Unless you’re a numbers person, this is an aspect of your business where enlisting the help of an expert is going to make all the difference. If you are new to the world of business, an accountant will become your indispensable ally.

6. Protect your intellectual property:
Your technology, idea or design, though sometimes an intangible asset, is extremely valuable to your business and should be protected by law. Legal protection of intellectual property, including trademarks, patents and copyrights, ensures that your rights are secured and helps avoid the possibility of someone else making a fortune off your idea!

7. Ensure you’re insured:
Businesses need insurance, probably more so than individuals. This is because businesses face risks that could land the business owner in a state of financial ruin. The three most common business insurance cover requirements are for business interruption, third-party liability and property damage. You simply can’t afford not to have insurance. Appropriate and adequate insurance should be seen as an investment, offering security for your future and peace of mind.

8. Build a brand:
A strong brand communicates what your business does and how it does it. From your name, logo and business cards, to your website and social media presence – everything must speak in the same voice. Don’t let your branding be an after-thought; ensure you remain consistent, be trustworthy, be unique and focus on growing your brand’s community.

9. Do something you love:
Starting a small business requires determination, motivation, and a certain amount of know-how. However, it can be argued that the most important requirement is passion. Make sure the type of business you are entering into suits you and energises you. Don't start something you won't want to do in five years, because if you are successful, you'll still be doing it.

10. Ask for help:
No one expects you to be able to do everything yourself, or to know everything there is to know. You do what you do, and get the right people in the right positions to do what you can’t. Some of the most successful business owners in the world are experts at delegating. Colenbrander Inc offers a wide range of services that can help businesses get off the ground, and thereafter help them navigate the path to success. Beyond financial services, Colenbrander’s experts and affiliates can ensure you get it right, every step of the way.

Colenbrander’s multi-skilled team of experts are ready to add value to your business – your success is our reward. Visit www.colenbrander.co.za.

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