If January 2016 mirrors the years that have gone before, it will be the busiest month in the calendar for people starting a business. Returning from Christmas to an unfulfilling job and a burning idea to turn a hobby or passion into a way of making a living, people in their droves will take steps to become their own boss. Will you be one of them?

2015_DEC_ALL_PRODUCTIVITY - Five steps to starting a business in the New Year

1. What’s the idea?

Every business starts with an idea. What’s yours? In coming up with an idea for a business, ask yourself three questions;

  • have you spotted a gap in the market? Is there something you’d like to buy and just can’t find? Others might be looking too – and that spells a market.
  • What’s your passion, hobby or skill? Turning what you love to do into a way of making a living means work will never really feel like work! Build a business based on what you love and your passion will shine through.
  • Have you seen someone offering something that you think you can do better yourself? If so, give it a go!

2. Make a plan

A business plan acts as your routemap and writing it will help confirm how you move from where you are now, to where you want the business to be The plan does not have to be long and it’s easy to remember what to include as it spells I’M OFF:

  • Idea – what’s the idea
  • Market – who is the market of customers you’re going to serve
  • Operations – what kit do you need to get started
  • Finance – do a basic forecast on sales less costs = profit
  • Friends – who is your support network as the business starts and grows

With plan in hand, your sense of direction is confirmed.

3. Make sales

You’re not in business until you’re making sales! Start selling to friends and then widen the network through selling online, considering template sites such as Moonfruit, Wix and Weebly, or make sales on powerful marketplaces such as Etsy, eBay and Notonthehighstreet.com. Deliver the product or service on time and in budget to ensure customers keep coming back!

4. Get known

Increase sales and profile through getting known. Achieve this by reaching out to local and target media with the story of what makes you special and embrace social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc) to reach customers and contacts across the globe. Agree to speak at events, enter Awards, host events and take steps to quickly become an expert in your field. Soon journalists will be knocking on your door asking for comment.

5. Repeat!

Repeat the above steps to stay in business and try to balance your precious time by dividing it across three key tasks; business development and making sales, taking care of existing customers and staying on top of company admin. Before you know it, you’ll be a fully fledged business owner and by the same time next year advising other StartUps on how to get going!

Emma Jones Xero

This content is provided courtesy of Xero Accounting Software - used by hundreds of thousands of businesses all over the world.