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Seven steps to start-up success

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1. Research your businessFirst, you must establish whether there is a demand for your product or service and be aware of the competitors in your field. Define what your business does, what it offers and why it’s different. What are your relevant skills and experience?

2. Build a planThis will help you prove your idea can translate into reality. You will need to lay out what your business will do, how it will make money, where you will position yourself against rivals and what your exit strategy is so you can get out on your own terms.

3. Getting the right locationWhere you base yourself is a key factor. The majority of start-ups are launched from the home to keep down costs and allow a better work-life balance. If you are also considering this, you’ll need to distinguish between your business and personal life, sothat you are able to function without distractions.

4. IT & commsYou need to be contactable during the working day via a range of media, including telephone and email. Critical requirements usually include a landline, mobile and internet connection to allow you to easily keep in touch with clients, suppliers, and colleagues.

5. Getting onlineHaving an internet presence is essential to carry out your daily business tasks and transactions and your broadband is the key to that. However, you need to ensure your monthly download limits are suitable for your business needs. You should also check out the security features that come with your broadband package, such as virus protection set as standard.6. Marketing yourself effectivelyAs a small business, the key to surviving in an uncertain economy is to stand out against your rivals. This means not only running your company more efficiently, but also making your market presence felt. One effective way of doing this is to use social networking sites such as Facebook.

7. Controlling costsA successful enterprise generates enough cash to cover costs and make a profit. Most businesses are not expected to be profitable from day one, but they are expected to have a plan outlining how and when they intend to reach this point. As you launch and grow, your underlying business costs tend to increase too, so controlling them is one of the simplest ways to improve your company’s bottom line.

Ian Bushby is head of start-ups at BT Business

Related articles:Mike Clare: "Give startups a (tax) break"Worried about the credit crunch? Start a new business

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