It’s no secret that women are still vastly underrepresented in business. In fact, a 2020 study found that just 32.37% of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK were owned by women.
Increasingly, however, women are feeling more empowered to make their business ideas a reality, a trend that’s likely to continue in the wake of the pandemic. With a changing job market and time to reflect on what we actually want from our careers, the idea of turning a side hustle into a full-time business and being our own boss is enticing.
If you have a business idea you think has real potential and feel ready to take the leap, we want to help you do it. Here are three key things to consider before getting started.
1. Know your target customer
As the old business proverb goes: ‘If you’re selling to everybody, you’re selling to nobody.’ Whatever your product or service, it’s essential you know exactly who you’re trying to reach and keep this at the heart of your business model.
Include a detailed analysis of your customer within your business model, and make sure they’re considered at every stage of your company’s development, from marketing to product design. Not only will this mean you stay focused, it will also offer a guiding principle for those difficult days when you struggle to remember the ‘why’ behind your project.
‘A great tool for this is a business model canvas,’ recommends Josh Winfield, regional ecosystem manager for NatWest. ‘It’s a simple, straightforward template, which allows you to create a business model that you’re constantly in control of.’
2. Research your resources
No matter what stage your business is at, arming yourself with the right skills is essential. While there are plenty of books that offer basic business tips, finding a dedicated course can help to fill gaps in your knowledge – meaning you’ll be much better prepared to solve any challenges thrown your way.
‘What defines a successful entrepreneur is how they adapt to change, and that’s been especially true over the past year. Doing your research and getting those knowledge building blocks in place means you’re more ready to adapt and grow,’ explains Winfield, who was instrumental in setting up NatWest Business Builder for budding entrepreneurs.
A free digital course, NatWest Business Builder is a one-stop shop designed to help empower you with the tools, skills and information needed to scale your business. Modules are just 35 minutes each and cover everything from personal development to customer understanding and financial planning. Each one is made up of text and video content, as well as hands-on assessments, to cater for everyone’s learning styles.
‘It’s important to learn about changes in the business world – for example, trading with the EU, or managing teams remotely,’ Winfield says. ‘But it’s also essential to look inwards and learn how to be more self-aware through personal development courses. That way you can understand where you’re likely to push yourself – and your business – forward, and where you’re likely to hold yourself back.’
3. Grow your support system
Getting a new business off the ground certainly isn’t easy, and having great support around you is important. On a personal level, don’t be afraid to reach out to friends and family who can offer an ear to moan to or a shoulder to cry on.
Professionally, networking is another great tool in your arsenal. NatWest’s Business Builder Facebook group, which is filled with over 5,000 other small business owners from across the country, can help to create meaningful relationships and grow your business. ‘Never be afraid to ask for support,’ Winfield advises. ‘Nine times out of 10, if you ask for it, you’ll get it.’
Communities like these can also be a place to turn when you need some honest feedback, which, argues Winfield, is an important part of starting a new venture. ‘One of the biggest things that stops new businesses flourishing is an entrepreneur who’s afraid of constructive criticism,’ Winfield says. ‘They’ll spend endless amounts of time and money on something only to find out the market doesn’t want it. Avoid this mistake by getting feedback from day one.’
Are you ready to start your business journey? Search NatWest Business Builder to sign up
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