Sande Golgart, regional vice president of Regus, contributed this article to BusinessNewsDaily's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.
March is National Start Your Business Month, so now could be the right time to turn your passion, skills or products into profits. If you have the stamina and stomach to be your own boss, taking the entrepreneurial plunge can be one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of your life. The hardest part is getting started and laying the foundation for long-term success.
As history has shown, some of today's most iconic brands were launched during economic uncertainty. Volatility should not be a deterrent or an excuse. If you are going to make it through the critical start-up phase, making smart decisions in advance can help keep your business on solid ground for years to come.
Here are five pragmatic steps to help ensure you've thought about the financial and operational details as you look to launch your company.
Access to capital
According to The National Small Business Association 2012 Year-End economic report, one in four small businesses lack necessary capital. Albeit a troubling figure, lending does appear to be thawing for more small businesses as we battle through the lingering effects of the recession. With access still tight, starting a business is possible. It's how you allocated your existing capital that's important. Having a cash reserve will also be critical to keeping the business afloat as start-ups factor in looming health care costs and new regulatory burdens.
By having a more flexible work model, businesses quickly realize savings on overhead expenses such as real estate costs. Traditional property agreements are risky, lock up your money and don't yield any sort of dividend. Instead, try a short-term lease, flexible workspace provider or virtual office to avoid tying up capital in potentially unnecessary real estate.
Right-size your business
Are you planning on starting your business at home? It will eliminate commuting to work, but is it really the best image for your business? Understand your workspace requirements and map out a pay-as-you-go solution.
Securing an office or conference room on an as-needed basis allows smaller businesses and start-ups the ability to look professional without the costs associated with long-term leases. You can save on upfront and ongoing expenses like utility bills and administrative costs as many flexible workspace providers provide on-site staff and maintenance costs are shared among all the companies in the space. In return, your company will have a top-notch business address, networking opportunities and a fully-stocked kitchen.
As you build your team, where they work physically shouldn't be the main focus. If the right candidate is on the other side of the country, so what? With proper management, remote teams can be as effective as a team who is face-to-face every day. Work with employees to give them access to a range of workspaces that will keep them engaged and satisfied. Striking a balance between home-working, co-working or flexible hours will give employees more control over their work day and will allow you to retain the best talent.
Reach out for new customers
Be creative and develop new revenue opportunities in different markets. Businesses that have an address in the same city as their customers and prospects have an advantage over out-of-town competitors. Use a virtual office (prestigious address and select office support). One challenge of expansion is securing a large enough client base to justify an additional office. With no upfront capital required and minimal risk, a virtual office solves that problem.
Video chat, don't fly
Use mobile technology that can help you cut down on your business travel costs. Video conferencing and online meetings can keep you in touch with colleagues and clients without the hassle of traveling. Make sure your remote workers have the tools to maintain regular contact from anywhere in the world.
Lastly, learn from your mistakes — because every business makes some along the way. It's how you respond to the mistakes with the knowledge you now have that will make a difference for your business. So this March if you take the leap and become your own boss, be smart about your space and good luck!
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher.