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10 Ways to Kickstart Your Business Idea in 2016

10 Ways to Kickstart Your Business Idea in 2016

It’s never been a better time to start a business. Access to online environments and innovations such as smart devices and cloud technology mean that many entrepreneurs can set up on a shoestring and get things going without needing excessive start-up budgets. Add into the mix the wide availability of cloud-funding platforms and cheap marketing through social media and it’s easy to see the many opportunities that people don’t want to miss out on.

Here are just some ways to get your business idea off the ground if you have the entrepreneurial spirit this year.

1. Find the Right Support

You may have all the personal and physical tools in place, but you’re nowhere without friends. There’s no better time to start networking, building business associate relationships, and getting sound advice from people in your local area and online. The great news for startups is there’s plenty of guidance from other entrepreneurs who are happy to help out for free.

Take the opportunity to make solid, long-term contacts and research all areas of running a business. A good place to start is the Government’s own business portal.

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2. Organize Your Funds

While it can be cheap to set up a business nowadays, especially if you have the right idea, it’s a good thing to check what you can currently bring to the table. This should include any debts you have, which may need to be addressed first, and the amount of collateral you can use, if needed, to apply for a loan. If you are finding it difficult to make ends meet, you may well have more problems down the line when you start your business.

3. Come Up with the Right Idea

What may seem like a good idea over a couple of drinks in the local bar might not seem so bright in the cold light of day. Coming up with a good idea is imperative if you want to have any chance of success.

This includes researching how others are running businesses in a similar industry or niche. It also means being honest with yourself.

For a very successful business, the question of scalability is always an issue. In other words, when you come to grow, how easy and cheap is it going to be to carry that out? If you run a restaurant business, that might involve giving out franchises or spending money on new premises.

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Check out this article from The Guardian on how to find the right business idea.

4. Plan the Business

This is the crucial stage of any startup and the step that many entrepreneurs get wrong. It involves setting out clear stages and strategies, from getting financed, setting up websites, marketing, brand development, and deciding whether you need to have staff employed and where you are going to find them. As far as staff are concerned, there are plenty of options to hire freelancers who can do the initial jobs for you, though you may have to do some hard searching to find the right ones.

You also need to plan for a long-term future and not just look at the immediate setup of your business. There may be a lot to do but it’s important that you have your direction set for some time to come. Your plan should include how you are going to build capital and secure your business future.

You’ll need a strong business plan, especially if you are going to be heading to the bank for a loan or looking at crowdfunding. Check out this article from Start Up Donut for some sound advice.

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5. Check Yourself Online

If you have been working for a number of years, no doubt you have a persona online and you need to have a quick search to make sure it doesn’t have any negatives associated with it. Another thing to check, if you don’t want egg on your face, is the name of your new company and whether someone else has got there before you.

6. Register Your Business

One thing you are going to need to do is register your business. This used to be a complicated process, but with online sites such as www.companyformations247.co.uk, everything is reduced to simplicity and you can register everything within 3 hours. You need to do this in the UK if you have a limited company, and it includes registering with Companies House as well as designating directorial roles within your business.

7. Raise Money

Getting the finances together for a business idea is much more viable nowadays. You can use your home or other properties as collateral for a bank loan or choose to sell property and self-fund. Increasingly, many entrepreneurs are turning to crowdfunding to get their business ideas off the ground. If you have good presentation skills and a solid business plan, and can communicate how strong your idea is, then this a great way to get capital. You generally pitch your idea online and people from all over the world can help fund it in exchange for something you offer, for instance a free product or share of the company.

8. Develop Your Brand Online

If you are going to run a business nowadays, you need to develop your online brand and that means marketing. You should have looked into this in detail in the planning stage of your business idea, as it’s the key to success or failure.

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You need to build brand awareness, find a following, engage with customers, and use all the free and paid resources out there that help make your business thrive. This may include doing a lot of it yourself at first, but you can also engage with online marketing companies to help you choose the right options.

9. Test, Evaluate, Tweak, Test

While you had strong ideas for how your business would begin to develop, the chances are that things will not go completely according to plan. Even the most experienced entrepreneurs encounter hitches along the way. This is where you need to put in more hard yards. It’s a question of testing everything, evaluating it, tweaking, and then testing again to guide you in the right direction.

10. Plan for Growth

Once your business is up and running and you are satisfied with its progress, it’s time to take a look at that plan again and check whether you under or overestimated growth in the future. Now that you have a bit more experience in the real world, there will no doubt be new ideas that have to be incorporated to guarantee more success. You might need to think about getting other experts on board, or you could be looking to expand into profitable new markets.

There’s no doubt that running a new business requires a lot of good thought, strong planning, and putting in the effort, not to mention often working long hours. With some 50% of startups failing within the first five years, it may seem that you are swimming against the tide in the effort to succeed. If you have done the planning, come up with a great plan, and have the enthusiasm and energy to carry it forward, you stand a better chance of success than other ventures.

Featured photo credit: 10 Ways to Kickstart Your Business Idea in 2016 via google.com

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

How to Mind Map to Visualize Your Thoughts (With Mind Map Examples)

How to Mind Map to Visualize Your Thoughts (With Mind Map Examples)

Traditionally, when you have a lot of ideas in your mind, you would create a text document, or take a sheet of paper and start writing in a linear fashion like this:

  • Intro to Visual Facilitation
    • Problem, Consequences, Solution, Benefits, Examples, Call to action
  • Structure
    • Why, What, How to, What If
  • Do It Myself?
    • Audio, Images, time-consuming, less expensive
  • Specialize Offering?
    • Built to Sell (Standard Product Offering), Options (Solving problems, Online calls, Dev projects)

This type of document quickly becomes overwhelming. It obviously lacks in clarity. It also makes it hard for you to get a full picture at a glance and see what is missing.

You always have too much information to look at, and most often you only get a partial view of the information. It’s hard to zoom out, figuratively, and to see the whole hierarchy and how everything is connected.

To see a fuller picture, create a mind map.

What Is a Mind Map?

A mind map is a simple hierarchical radial diagram. In other words, you organize your thoughts around a central idea. This technique is especially useful whenever you need to “dump your brain”, or develop an idea, a project (for example, a new product or service), a problem, a solution, etc. By capturing what you have in your head, you make space for other thoughts.

In this article, we are focusing on the basics: mind mapping using pen and paper.

The objective of a mind map is to clearly visualize all your thoughts and ideas before your eyes. Don’t complicate a mind map with too many colors or distractions. Use different colors only when they serve a purpose. Always keep a mind map simple and easy to follow.

    Image Credit: English Central

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    By following the three next steps below, you will be able to create such mind maps easily and quickly.

    3 Simple Steps to Create a Mind Map

    The three steps are:

    1. Set a central topic
    2. Add branches of related ideas
    3. Add sub-branches for more relevant ideas

    Let’s take a look at an example Verbal To Visual illustrates on the benefits of mind mapping.[1]

    Step 1 : Set a Central Topic

    Take a blank sheet of paper, write down the topic you’ve been thinking about: a problem, a decision to make, an idea to develop, or a project to clarify.

    Word it in a clear and concise manner.

      What is the first idea that comes to mind when you think of the subject for your mind map? Draw a line (straight or curved) from the central topic, and write down that idea.

        Step 3 : Add Sub-Branches for More Relevant Ideas

        Then, what does that idea make you think of? What is related to it? List it out next to it in the same way, using your pen.

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          You can always add more to it later, but that’s good for now.

          In our example, we could detail the sub-branch “Benefits” by listing those benefits in sub-branches of the branch “Benefits”. Unfortunately, we already reached the side of the sheet, so we’re out of space to do so. You could always draw a line to a white space on the page and list them there, but it’s awkward.

          Since we created this mind map on a regular letter-format sheet of paper, the quantity of information that fits in there is very limited. That is one of the main reasons why I recommend that you use software rather than pen and paper for most of the mind mapping that you do.

          Repeat Step 2 and Step 3

          Repeat steps 2 and 3 as many times as you need to flush out all of your ideas around the topic that you chose.

            I added first-level (main) branches around the central topic mostly in a clockwise fashion, from top-right to top-left. That is how, by convention, a mind map is read.

            In the next section, we are covering the three strategies to building your maps.  

            Mind Map Examples to Illustrate Mind Mapping

            You can go about creating a mind map in various ways:

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            • Branch by Branch: Adding whole branches (with all of their sub-branches), one by one.
            • Level by Level: Adding elements to the map, one level at a time. That means that firstly, you add elements around the central topic (main branches). Then, you add sub-branches to those main branches. And so on.
            • Free-Flow: Adding elements to your mind map as they come to you, in no particular order.

            Branch by Branch

            Start with the central topic, add a first branch. Focus on that branch and detail it as much as you can by adding all the sub-branches that you can think of.

              Then develop ideas branch by branch.

                A branch after another, and the mind map is complete.

                  Level by Level

                  In this “Level by Level” strategy, you first add all the elements that you can think of around the central topic, one level deep only. So here you add elements on level 1:

                    Then, go over each branch and add the immediate sub-branches (one level only). This is level 2:

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                      Idem for the next level. This is level 3. You can have as many levels as you want in a mind map. In our example, we only have 3 levels. Now the map is complete:

                        Free-Flow

                        Basically, a free flow strategy of mind mapping is to add main branches and sub-topics freely. No rules to restrict how ideas should flow in the mind map. The only thing to pay attention to is that you need to be careful about the level of the ideas you’re adding to the mind map — is it a main topic, or is it a subtopic?

                          I recommend using a combination of the “Branch by Branch” and the “Free-Flow” strategies.

                          What I normally do is I add one branch at a time, and later on review the mind map and add elements in various places to finish it. I also sometimes build level 1 (the main branches) first, then use a “Branch by Branch” approach, and later finish the map in a “Free-Flow” manner.

                          Try each strategy and combinations of strategies, and see what works best for you.

                          The Bottom Line

                          When you’re feeling stuck or when you’re just starting to think about a particular idea or project, take out a paper and start to brain dump your ideas and create a mind map. Mind mapping has the magic to clear your head and have your thoughts organized.

                          If you can’t always have access to a paper and pen, don’t worry! Creating a mind map with software is very effective and you get none of the drawbacks of pen and paper. You can also apply the above steps and strategies just the same when using a mind mapping tool on the phone and computer.

                          More Tools to Help You Organize Thoughts

                          Featured photo credit: Alvaro Reyes via unsplash.com

                          Reference

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