Starting a business can be a pretty daunting and challenging experience whilst at the same time a most rewarding one if it’s done right. Discipline, rigor, and hard work are most definitely required. There are ways of greatly increasing your chances of success, some of which I will touch on in this article.

Firstly, make sure you have the full support of your nearest and dearest. Decide how you intend to manage your personal commitments and put the necessary arrangements in place.

You need to complete a business plan. Look at different types of business models that you could operate under. Carry out the advance research and write down your findings. Know who your potential customers are and their real needs. Talk to them in advance and listen, see what gap you can fill, this is probably the single most important tip you will get from this article. Your head is not the place to store all the valuable information you gather as you go along. Do the research on competitors, markets, distribution channels, latest technology, systems, production, legislation etc. Be clear on what resources you will need in order to succeed. Draft a short plan first and run it by your family, friends and advisers to see if it makes sense to them. The final business plan should include a clear action and implementation plan. It should be a practical working document that you can refer to and update regularly. It will clearly outline your strategy for success. Expect the plan to continually change over time and as you are starting out you can easily have a flexible business model.

Whilst it is right to have ambitious long term goals don’t be over optimistic with your short term goals.

It is critical when you start employing staff you get the very best quality and experienced people available and if it doesn’t work out initially don’t be afraid to make early changes.

Ensure you maintain good housekeeping right from the start by keeping your day to day affairs in order. Make sure you are operating through the right trading structure be it as a sole trader or a company. Pay your taxes on time, keep your accounts up to day so you know your financial position, claim all expenses, develop appropriate reporting systems, adhere to legislation etc. If you don’t have the time to maintain the books yourself make sure you get the right person to do it for you.

The business should be properly financed. You are going to need to finance the basic business assets, technology, stock, working capital etc. You may have your own funds or access to family funds. Talk to your local bank and share your business plan with them which should outline what funding you will need to be able to deliver a successful start up. Meet with local state funding agencies such as Leader, County Enterprise Boards, or Enterprise Ireland if your new business is a high potential start-up.

Make sure you get the best advice available. You should only be dealing with commercially astute professionals who understand your needs and have advised several successful start-ups in recent times. Don’t be afraid to ask for references. Finally, best of luck and enjoy the trip!

For further information contact Pat Sutton, Managing Partner, O’KellySutton, Chartered Accountants & Business Advisers, Kildare Town, sutton@okellysuttoncrosby.com