Any year is potentially a bad year to start a new business, with the global economy still fragile following the recent meltdown. However, there are many reasons to believe that right now is the best time to start your new business. Not only are there many factors coming together to work in your favour, but there are fewer barriers standing in your way than there have been for some time.
The fact is that, historically, a period when an economy is just emerging from recession has proved to be a good time for business start-ups. Business failures during the recession will almost certainly have created gaps in the market for new players in various fields. Prices are keener for most of your required resources, including office space and telecom deals. There are more workers available on the job market, and, best of all, interest rates are low, making borrowing much cheaper.
In fact, one of the best pieces of news for business is the proliferation of alternative forms of financing, so that, even if banks remain slow to lend, there is no shortage of other possibilities. The new big thing is crowd funding -- a way of financing your business by selling small amounts of equity to a large number of different investors. Alternatively, peer-to-peer lending platforms can be an excellent place to start. and you can also look into micro-lending, merchant cash advances and purchase order financing.
This doesn't mean, of course, that starting a business will be easy -- it is never easy, and having a good idea does not automatically ensure success. To start with, you have to choose the right business, and go about your start-up the right way. Large numbers of business start-ups fail every year, mainly because they have failed to take note of best business practices.
Choosing the right business is especially important, because any new business owner has to work exceedingly hard to get off the ground, and overcome various hurdles which couldn't have been predicted. In the first place, you need to think about how the current condition of the economy might affect your specific business idea -- remember that, despite the wealth of opportunities, some sectors and niches will be harder than others. So make sure you do your research and use good judgement -- for instance, your product or service must meet a demand and fill a gap in the market, and should be in a growth sector. The Washington Post suggests that among the sectors primed for growth are services to buildings, including janitorial, cleaning and pest control; computer-related services including computer repair, system design, graphic design and IT security; and elderly health care.
Once you have sorted out the legal requirements, and obtained the right funding and the right permits -- and remember you should organise as a corporation, not as a sole proprietorship, however small you are -- your first step must be to get your name out there. Get yourself listed with local business directories, as well as all the major ones that are not location specific. There is no need to spend large amounts of your precious cash at this stage -- there are literally dozens of sites that provide free listings for new and small businesses, so research which are the best. This does not, of course, absolve you from the need to provide compelling messages in your listings, which will catch the attention of the appropriate audience.
The business world runs on personal relationships. People want to do business with someone they know and trust, so share things about yourself, why you developed this particular product or service, and why you believe in it. Building your personal brand is where you can really make powerful use of blogging and social media, and if you haven't got them, get them. This is an investment you can't afford not to make.
Despite the considerable challenges, there are unprecedented opportunities for business right now. You need to hold on to your self-belief, learn from your mistakes and always adhere to best business practices. Put your foot on the accelerator, but keep your seat-belt fastened as well.
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