Starting your own business is an adventure.
If you are an adventurer at heart, you will no doubt regret the old time when you could leave with your horse or boat to explore and conquer the world with the sole obligation to stay alive. Our extremely normalized and organized society pushes us to stay on the rails that it has designated us.
Going into business and starting your own business is the great adventure of the time we live in. Whether your goal is modest and local or whether you want to conquer the planet, all the ingredients for the great epic are there. Everyone can push the adventure to its own limits, which is certain that this adventure will force you to step out of your comfort zone and discover new horizons.
1 – The idea
Whether it is the precise idea of the product or the desire for creation that came first, it is important to mature your project, it is not a question of time but rather to put your mind clear, you have to think to its different aspects, commercial, technical, legal, financial, human …
This is an opportunity to express your creativity, to refine your concept, some people immediately think of their logo while others focus on customers or the technical aspect. Everything counts because each element is a brick of the project that will help you imagine it as a whole. Don’t forget that the most important is your motivation and your ability to maintain this motivation despite the many challenges that will get in your way.
You have to define your product precisely, otherwise the following steps will be more difficult to take. Plan the different stages of its design, its manufacture, its storage, its production. Imagine who will be the customers and their different profiles. What will be the marketing methods, shop, yourself or network of sellers, internet … Take into account the risks and legal obligations.
2 – The market test
This is undoubtedly the most crucial and unfortunately, often the least well treated step. It is necessary to compare your project to the market, are there any customers?
Ask yourself the following questions:
– do your customers need your product quickly?
– are there many potential customers to have this need?
– will customers be easy to find or contact?
– do these customers have the means to pay for your product and are they already used to pay for it?
You have to do a market research, for some it is hardship but you cannot get away with that.
The first technique is to assess what your competitors are doing, how many are there, what are they offering, are they healthy? It is not because there are already people in this sector that there is no more room for you, on the contrary it is a sign of market wealth. It is also an opportunity to assess the level of price, quality and professionalism of the sector. You can also assess the size of your market. If nobody offers a service or similar product, you have to ask yourself questions, either there is no market or you came across an idea so innovative that nobody had thought of it before you, but don’t get too much illusion.
Now is the time to get in touch with your future customers. Do not hesitate to try everything. Use your knowledge, your friends, your former work colleagues, social networks and ask the question to those who might be interested in your product. What do they think, what would be their need in this area, how much they would put in, have they already bought equivalent goods or services, do they have needs or ideas on this subject… Be careful with friends who may be sympathetic not to not disappoint you, ask them by saying for example that you are investigating for someone else.
If you neglect this step in building your project, the penalty could well be a business failure or at least a lot of time and energy spent for nothing. There is nothing worse in a business than an unsellable product.
Your market research is not your aim but a tool to improve your commercial offer. You must now use your results and consider them to develop your product, its price, the method of sale … you will have to go back and forth between your potential customers and your offer, probably recall contacts and resubmit them a new offer.
3 – The business plan
It may be obvious to you but this is not clear for everyone. “Business is business”. Your business has to be profitable; it just has to earn more than it spends. If you are new to business, you should definitely seek advice for this step. In terms of operating costs and accounting and financial aspects, a professional will help you to assess precisely what will be the cost charges to take into account. Although the idea and the market is undoubtedly your baby, advice is welcome but you are the soul of the company and the final choice is yours. A customer is sometimes surprised to see that in certain types of trade or business the prices are high. Who, as a customer, has never been annoyed by the sale price of this or that product in a small business or the prices charged by an artisan when paying? However, it is by doing this business plan that you will become aware of the burdens that will weigh on your business and force you to sell at a certain price. This is also where you can make a difference by adapting your organization and your products.
The business plan is a key stage of the project, if your business plan is not good, return to square one, otherwise you will go straight into the wall. It will also allow you to anticipate your cash flow needs over time. Although your business can perfectly be very profitable but doomed to failure if you do not have the cash (funds in reserve) necessary to meet operating expenses during the development period of the project.
For example if you set up a business of importing Chinese products and selling through a network of resellers, your supplier will require a payment on order while your customers will pay you 60 days, You will certainly receive the money from your sales 4 months after you purchased the goods.
Your business plan will also be essential to convince associates, partners or investors. Who would invest his money in an unprofitable business? It will be much more complicated later to explain to your partners or bank officer that your business is going well but that you need money because you have made a mistake in your calculation.
4 – Money please!
Most businesses need funds to start their business. The situation varies from one activity to another. Money is a great business accelerator but it is also a risk-taking for the company and the associates.
The company has several sources of funding.
The main one for a company is its share capital, it is a sum of money that the founders decide to bring into the marriage basket when the company is created. This money is blocked for the whole life of the company, the capital can however be modified later if partners decide. Share Capital is the company’s war chest. Note that with status of companies such as Sarl, Sa or Sas, the share capital contributed by each partner determines the percentage of the business he owns.
An officer or the partners can resort to a bank loan to finance their contribution to the share capital, it is a simple solution because the bank prefer to lend you personally if you are solvent than to your young company to create.
If you or the partners have sufficient funds and you contribute it to the share capital during the creation, you can go directly to the point following the creation of your legal structure.
The manager or the partners may also decide to individually contribute certain sums of money to the company. These sums will then be posted to a special account called the associates’ current account. These sums can be returned by the company to the associate at any time, they are not income for the partner but a kind of loan repayment, these repayments are therefore not subject to charges. The addition of money to a current account is an appreciated way to bring cash by the managers and associates of the company because it offers a lot of flexibility and allows to quickly recover at no cost the funds invested in the project. For the same reasons it is a process which is not to the taste of other financial partners who see in it a lack of commitment from the partners and a lesser guarantee of their loans and contributions. It is in the articles of company statute that the operating rules for current accounts are set between the partners.
The company can also use a bank or financing agency to lend it money. It must be recognized that a bank will not be very enthusiastic about the idea of lending to a company if the partners on their side do not provide all the guarantees (only the rich get credit). The guarantees for a bank are the capital of the company and the solvency of the sureties. Do not think your new company will obtain financing on itself, you will certainly have to give personal guarantees, bring your estates as security or provide a strong guarantee. It is essential to be advised on this point by a professional lawyer. It is easier to get an equipment purchase loan than to get cash money.
Although, the bank loan remains an essential tool for financing the business. A clear and synthetic impeccable business plan plus a convincing manager are essential to have access to it. There are organizations that provides financial insurance to your bank and help you get a loan, like BPIFrance. www.bpifrance.fr
The volunteer of “Réseau Entreprendre” can also support you and help you to obtain a personal loan, www.reseau-entreprendre.org.
5 – Choice and creation of the legal structure
Let’s go, your project is now completed, well designed, tested, calculated and funded. The next step is to legally give life to your business, for now it was a project you have to transform it to give it a legal existence.
The stages of creating your legal structure.
For each of these points we offer a special article.
– choice of legal form, sole proprietorship or company
– Choice of registered office, purchase or rental of premises or Company domiciliation contract
– Drafting of company statutes
– Bank deposit of funds
– Legal publicity
– File the form and apply at the registry (form M0)
– Wait and get the Kbis (official ID form of the company)
Let’s go for adventure
You may feel like you’ve done a lot for your business already, but right now you have the ticket for a trip. It’s only now that it all starts for real. You are an entrepreneur. Good luck to your business, the great adventure of our time!