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8 tips on starting your first business

So you want to start a company that imports comics, or sells artisan lunches? Great. Now that you have an idea, it’s time to put set the wheels in motion and maybe even look for a bit of corporate finance or outside funding. And don’t forget this is not going to be an easy task.

Before you celebrate with cocktails at the hippest sushi joint in town, there are quite a few that should first be completed. Hold off on that press release until you actually have a company and all of your systems in place.

Register the business

The first step is to register your company with the government, and apply for a tax number if required. This is your passport to the world of business and without it, you probably won’t do much with just an idea. If you don’t know how to do this, it may be best to hire an accountant to help you along the way. Once registered, which can take a few weeks, it’s time to start getting everything else sorted out as soon as possible.

Read more: Don’t do a startup, build a business

Open a bank account

Every business has to have a bank account. If you’re going to be selling goods or services, your customers need a place to pay you and a place for you to pay suppliers from. There is a range of business accounts available and they all differ from bank to bank. Have a chat with each bank and see which kind of account will best service your business needs.

Look for financing

Now that you have a bank account, it’s time to fund that company of yours. If you can bootstrap it, or self-fund, then you’re already a step ahead of everyone else. Otherwise, it’s time to look at taking out a business loan before you can get anywhere. It’s a good idea to weigh up your options in order to see what works for you. If you’re a scalable startup with a potentially disruptive business, it will be a good idea to seek out Angel investors or venture capitalists for your company.

Find a place to work from

It doesn’t matter that you’re working out of a high-rise office, a garage, or even just your bedroom, as long as you have somewhere to work. Every company needs headquarters where meetings can be held and invoices can be stored. It may not be glamorous at first, but the office is your home away from home and you’ll soon come to know it like the back of your hand.

Read more: Want to start a business cheaply? Think twice about South Africa

Speak to suppliers

While not everyone sells physical products, like accountants, others will require stock and inventory. Start opening accounts with suppliers as soon as possible. Some of these will require you to purchase an initial batch of inventory, while others can take weeks to negotiate. When it comes to overseas suppliers, you’ll have to set up couriers to get the stock to you, payment methods to pay in foreign currencies, and to have your VAT sorted out as well.

Get all of your office equipment

What’s a business without a stapler and the odd invoice book? Your business needs to be kitted out with office equipment that you’ll use in the near future. Don’t go overboard and purchase the most advanced computer and a full-colour laser printer if all you really need to do is run basic accounting software and spreadsheets. Plan for a desk and chair as well, which you can pick up at a second-hand store if you’re on a budget

It’s time for a website

Maybe your company is internet based and maybe it’s not. Either way, your business needs a website, even if it’s just a single page. Gone are the days of relying on the yellow pages when people want to find out something about you. The website doesn’t have to be a massive project, with a built-in shopping cart and a forum. Instead, it should at least contain basic information about the company and how people can contact you. After all, if you’re googling where to order pizza from, shouldn’t potential customers be able to google about you?

Read more: Here are the pros and cons to starting your own startup

Look at a marketing plan

If no one knows about you, how will they want whatever you’re selling? You’ll have to put together a marketing plan, something that will pull in customers but not break the bank. This can be done using social media channels, paid advertising, and more. If you’re unsure of how to go about this, speak to a marketing expert.

Of course, there is a range of other things you’ll need to do, such as market research and gaining customer feedback, but following all of the points above will set you on your way.