Updated: Aug 12, 2019
Got lots of questions about starting and growing a business that you have been too afraid to ask? At Ignitzee HQ, we've been busy networking in recent weeks. Here's a round-up of some of the most commonly asked questions from our travels.
1) How do I come up with a business name?
Once you have started your business, your name will fade into the background. It's best to set a time period in which you'll finalise your name so that you can get on to the more exciting things. There's a few things that you need to do before you lock it in:
Business name register - does your name meet the relevant checks for your country? In Australia, this managed by ASIC.
Domain name - if you are planning to have a website, is the trading name of your business available?
Social media - is the name available on social media? Consider twitter, instagram, facebook and other platforms that you might be considering.
Don't forget that you can have a different registered business name and trading name. When it comes to business names, owners are usually concerned with whether someone else in the same industry is using the same or similar name. This opens you up to potential legal action - other businesses could argue that you are cutting their grass if consumers are likely to be confused and potentially contact the wrong business.
2) How do you transition into being an entrepreneur?
Being an entrepreneur is less about how much money you are making and more about your mindset. An entrepreneur is thinking about where the opportunities to make money are - an unmet need that they could take advantage of. They are constantly scanning the world around them for problems to be solved. Entrepreneurship is an ongoing cycle of define, build, invest, repeat. The first step of this cycle is reviewing each of your ideas and thinking critically about difficult the customer problem would be to solve; what resources you would need to get started; how much risk would be involved and how long it might take to get a return.
Entrepreneurial thinking is very different to drawing a salary from a company. You won't become Richard Branson overnight, no matter how many management books you buy. You need to be very resilient to face the many challenges that you'll face. If it was easy, someone would have already done it! The lowest risk way to move from earning a full-time wage to earning money from your own business(es) is through a portfolio career. This is where you have multiple streams of income, attempting to balance the risk of starting your own business by not relying on just one idea paying off big. Portfolio careers often include consultancy, freelancing or part-time work. It's not all surfing every morning. This type of lifestyle requires a lot of juggling and preparedness to pick up work at the last minute.
3) How do you organise your home business day?
On a good day, I break my day into a series of 45 min blocks. In each block, I focus my energy on specific very specific so that I don't spend more time than I'd like on activities that don't directly contribute to how makes Ignitzee work. Check out our post on Planning that works for more details of how we stay focused.
I'll also fess up to having spent half a day last week cleaning the bathroom cupboards ;)
4) What one piece of advice would you give new small business owners?
Before you start: Don't overthink it. Focus your energy working out what problem to be solved for a specific group rather than building products. Just do and keep learning from it.
Think about if you were opening a bakery. Is there a specific gap that you can take advantage of? Low-carb, gluten free, vegan, a specific location, trends from other countries? Is there a way that you can test your market before you start? Think about whether you can have a stall at a local market or a food truck to test what products work better than others. Who is your ideal customer? Find where they are and go speak to them in person.
After you start: Find your tribe. Being a solopreneur can be lonely. You'll need to surround yourself with some inspiring people who will help keep you motivated on the dark days and celebrate your wins.
5) Are co-working spaces any good?
It depends. I've had the opportunity to work out of a number of different co-working spaces in Australia and New Zealand. Each space has its own culture, benefits and types of tenants. Some are loud and bustling, some are quiet. Most co-working spaces offer free trials so you can see whether it's for you or not.
It can be difficult to have a confidential discussion in these types of locations. Even the most basic phone or in person conversations could have someone overhearing your rates, your tactics or confidential client details. Few of the co-working spaces I've been to consider ergonomics - this can be difficult if you are less than 5ft tall...
Be mindful that claims that co-working spaces will help you win new business can be overstated. Most businesses in co-working spaces then to be quite small - this only works if this is the exact market you are targeting.
I admit some days at home can feel like the walls are closing in. Having a supportive network around you can be helpful. There is something powerful about getting out of your PJs, staying away from the kitchen, having adult conversations and avoiding the temptation to reorganise all of the kitchen cupboards.