Ideas and tools for starting your own business

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In this article, you’ll learn:

  • How to come up with business ideas

  • How to write a business plan

  • The requirements for starting a business in Ireland

  • How to start selling products

  • What tools exist for managing your business

Entrepreneurship and business ownership are booming. As the Irish economy bounces back from the impact of COVID-19, new businesses have sprung up left and right. A total of 5,482 new companies were registered between July and September 2020 – almost 1,500 more than the previous quarter. 

Currently, there are about 250,000 SMEs (small, medium, and micro enterprises; source: operating in Ireland. These businesses employ nearly a million people altogether, which is around 20% of the overall population. Considering how much ground small businesses cover, you might wonder how to start your own. 

Starting a business is an exciting and empowering venture that lets you take control of everything, from your working hours to your business model. There are a few basic steps to starting a business, beginning with your business idea. 

What are some good business ideas for budding entrepreneurs?

Businesses exist to sell products, which means the first step to starting a business is finding a product. You can start thinking about products to sell by: 

  • Thinking about your passions. Maybe you have a hobby or a skill that you’re excited about and want to share with people. You can likely find others who share that passion by checking forums, Facebook pages, or subreddits devoted to it. 

  • Looking at trends. Trends can be a very profitable source of small business ideas, especially when you’re among the first few to discover one. You can discover trends by monitoring social media or using Google Trends to track the performance of topics over time. The important thing is to make sure you’ve found a trend and not just a fad. You can tell the difference because a trend addresses an existing need in a new way, while a fad is just a gimmick (like fidget spinners). 

  • Solving a problem customers are having. If there’s an issue that current products in a niche aren’t solving, that can be a great opportunity to come in with a solution. If you’re looking for customer pain points, check product reviews on sites like Amazon for customer feedback. If you see a common theme with the complaints, that’s something to address. 

  • Seeing what’s profitable. Research the production, shipping, and overhead costs associated with what you’re selling to figure out how much of your sale stays with you as profit. Use those profit margins to decide whether it’s worth selling that product. 

Once you have a product idea, it’s time to do research. Research will help you find the target customer for your product and decide how big your market is. You want to identify: 

  • Who your customers are, including age, gender, location, income levels, and other demographic information. 

  • What your customers want. If your small business ideas come from addressing customer pain points, you likely have a good idea of what customers want already. But if not, find out. Check social media pages and product forums, send surveys, conduct focus groups if you have the resources, or go outside and physically ask. 

  • Who your competitors are. See how many other players you’ll need to contend with and take note of how they present themselves, including branding, where they advertise, and their business models. Pay attention to how your competition prices their products, because that will tell you what your audience is willing or accustomed to paying. 

  • How your customers search for products. Use keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner to find out the words your customers use when they’re searching for products. Then use those words in your marketing, so your customers will stumble on you next time they do a search. 

Next, consider if you’ll start a local business or home business. With a home business, you don’t have to commute or pay to maintain another space. You’ll also have more control over your schedule and you’ll have fewer startup costs. 

But a local business can make you look more professional, lets you hire employees, and makes expanding easier if you ever decide to expand. Both models have their own benefits; it comes down to which is more appropriate for the product or service that you’re offering.

Knowing all of these things is essential if you’re going to draft a business plan. You usually need a business plan to register yourself as a business in a country. 

How do you write a plan for starting a business?

Even if having a business plan wasn’t mandatory, it would still be valuable.

A business plan helps you to articulate all the gritty details behind turning your idea into reality, and gives you clearer insights into your business. Business plans typically have multiple sections, usually between 5 and 10.

Here’s a good template for you to follow: 

  1. A summary. Even though this is first on the list, write it last, after you know all the other things. The reason it’s at the top is so people reading your business plan can have a quick glance through it. Your summary should cover who the business is for, what your product does for people, and how it’s different from current products. 

  2. A company description. This needs to have your mission statement, company history , and company objectives. 

  3. Summarise your market research. Write out all the demographic information and customer profiles you gathered. 

  4. Summarise your competitive analysis. Look at their advertising, press coverage, prices, and audience sizes. 

  5. Describe your product. Focus on its unique features and the benefit to your customer. Also describe how you make or source your product, making sure to note down how much it costs and how long it takes to do so. 

  6. Say a little bit about your marketing strategy. Mention your value proposition and target markets. Write down your plans for where to advertise and how to bring customers to your business. 

  7. Write out your budget. Include fixed costs like rent, utilities, and the cost of materials. You’d also ideally have a reasonable idea of your profits and losses from past sales history, but not if you’re just starting out. 

To start a small business in Ireland, you need to register yourself with the Companies Registration Office, once you know your bylaws, list of employees, location, business name, and have a description of your business. You’ll also need a business bank account, business plan, company seal, and to register for a few taxes. 

How can you start selling products in your business? 

Once you’re registered, it’s time to start selling. You can either sell products physically or via an online store. If you’re selling products physically, it’s a good idea to pick up a card machine for small business. Card machines let you accept all manner of credit, debit, and contactless payment cards. 

SumUp offers a few different card machines ideal for starting your business. Our readers are fully mobile and can be used anywhere an internet connection is available. They also accept any cashless payment you can think of, from debit cards to mobile wallets. 

If you decide you want to sell online, we also make it easy for you to start an Online Store so you can sell wherever and whenever you want. In five minutes, you can add your inventory, contact information, and business homepage. Ship your products wherever you want, or add options for local delivery and in-store pickup.

Online Store isn’t the only tool for businesses we offer. From the free SumUp App, you can see your sales history, and watch how it evolves over time. You can also issue invoices to your customers, so you can both track payments that are due. 

When you send an invoice, your customer gets an email with a link where they can pay you the amount owed. You can see when they’ve paid you, as well as when you issued the invoice and how overdue payments are. 

You can also get paid remotely by sending your customers payment links. If a customer buys from you, you can send them a link over social media, email, or SMS that takes them to a secure payment website. 

You can send these links from anywhere, so a customer could check out in your store, and if they forgot their card, no problem. Just send them a link. 

SumUp has been dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground since our founding in 2012, and with our collection of tools for managing your business, make your day-to-day life easier. Once you have your product and start selling, use SumUp POS to oversee your operation, from easy accounting to inventory management to encouraging repeat customers with loyalty programs.  

In Summary

  • The first step to a business idea is finding products to sell.

  • Once you have your product idea, do market research to see how viable it is. 

  • Make sure to write up your business plan for when you register the company. It’ll also help you run your business better. 

  • Starting a business in Ireland requires you to go through the Companies Registration Office. 

  • SumUp gives you a lot of ways to get paid and manage your business.

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