How to start a business from scratch? (A step-by-step Guide)

How to start a business from scratch? (A step by step Guide)

Have you ever thought about being your own boss, the freedom of having a flexible schedule  and keeping most of the financial rewards that…

Have you ever thought about being your own boss, the freedom of having a flexible schedule  and keeping most of the financial rewards that come with owning a business? Well, if you have,  you’re definitely not alone. 

Starting a business from scratch is not supposed to be difficult, it just requires planning and  hard work. When you have your own business it means you are in full control of your success  and in order to increase your chances of having a successful business, you need to have a solid  business foundation. There are important steps to take in order to start a business from scratch,  here are nine steps you need to get started. 

1. Do a SWOT analysis on yourself 

A SWOT analysis is a planning strategy system that is used to help a person or a company  identify their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in relation to project or business  development. When starting a business, it is important to know yourself so identify your  strengths, weaknesses, opportunities in relation to the business industry. 

For example, your  skills can be your strengths, maybe you studied business management and economics, make sure to use that  knowledge to your advantage. Perhaps there’s a successful company that offers a product or  service similar to your idea and you feel that’s a threat. Think about how you can make your product or service different based on your set of strengths. 

2. Decide on the type of business you want to start 

Deciding on the type of business you want to start means you have to think carefully about  your business idea, define a gap in the industry of your interest or come up with a fresh idea  for a product. Maybe you have a lot of business ideas but you must choose the one you are  most passionate about. The reality is that when you’re passionate about something, you enjoy  doing it, so even when there are difficulties in your business you will soldier on. 

Lucky you, business plans are no longer mandatory to have. You need the ‘concept’ and that means just have an: 

  • Idea
  • The value proposition to clients (what makes attractive for customers)
  • Some marketing to test your idea

3. Protect your business idea 

Conduct research on how to protect your business idea. At this point you would have named  your business, research if there is an already existing business with a name similar to yours. If 

there is a company with a name similar to yours, make sure that business has a good reputation just to be safe, because you may want to trade in other countries and a good reputation is good  for your sales. 

The product that your company is servicing must be new or unique in your industry, because  there might be a business out there that sells the same product and might accuse you of  infringing their rights, so do research! Once you have done that, warrant your copyright and  legally register your business product, so that your intellectual property is fully protected and  other businesses cannot steal your ideas. Businesses can steal each other’s ideas but if you  license yours, then your business idea is protected.  

4. Evaluate your business market 

The first thing you need to do when starting a business is to define a gap in the market, think  about how your product is going to make a difference in the lives of your potential customers.  Think about what is different about your business product, what makes it different from your  competitors’ products? 

Conduct thorough market research, learn about emerging trends in your industry and examine  your competitors so that you can figure out strategies to position yourself in the market. 

5. Test the skeleton business product in your target market

Because you are trying to start a business from scratch and you really want the business to work  out, that does not mean you must spend all your resources on something which you don’t know  will succeed.  

There are people who spend months and years developing business products without testing  the products in their target market. It is best to test the skeleton product in your target market,  to get opinions about the product and assess if the product is fit for purpose. In that way you  are testing whether the idea is going to sell or fail, based on the results of testing the skeleton  product of the final product you can make informed decisions about your business idea. 

This is a young black male inside his business office hanging a banner that reads 'opening soon'.

6. Open a business bank account  

Open a business bank account where all your funds will be kept. It is a good idea to separate  your business funds from your personal bank account, so that you do not spend your business  funds and end up delaying the process of starting your empire.  

7. Set up your business space 

Now that your money is in the bank, you have developed your business plan, set up your  business space. If your business does not need a big building and you have space at home, start  setting up your office. Maybe your business is online, start building your website, develop web  content, do not forget to optimize your web content so that your potential customers find you  easily online. You might need an SEO Copywriter if you are not familiar with SEO.  

If your business is not online, find a location where your target market is. Get your lease, install  office phones, print the stationery, decide on prices, hire staff members and then throw an  opening party. Think carefully about your business location, like are you visible to your target  market? Are your competitors around you? Can you really afford the location you have chosen?  Try to answer those questions and make well-informed decisions.  

8. Expect to make mistakes 

You might be starting your first business and very excited about it, but expect to make mistakes.  Making mistakes in business is inevitable, you just have to learn from them. Have an open  mind, adjust to situations, find opportunities in your mistakes and most importantly find  solutions. 

Remember you are starting a business from scratch, there is no doubt that you’ll make mistakes while in the process of starting your business and there is nothing wrong with that. Some of the common business mistakes include failing to plan, not conducting market research, taking long  to hire staff, hiring the wrong team, not having a website, not investing in marketing,  disregarding accounting, under-pricing your service or product, neglecting the use of written  contracts, not carefully defining a target market etc. 

As a business owner, teach yourself to not make mistakes that could have been avoided.

Here is an opportunity: the mLab Startup Accelerator Programme

mLab supports enterprise development, it hosts its start-up lab and associated support in Limpopo, Kimberly and Tshwane. The programme runs periodically or seasonally, so in order to apply for the next round of start-up intake follow mLab on Twitter @mlabsa and check updates on the website. 

The enterprise development programme supports early stage digital tech founders to develop market ready offerings. The programme has supported more than 100 start-ups. Through this, jobs are created and revenue is generated.


mPowa, a member of the SA Youth Network, is a mobile app for South African youth, providing them with location-based and profile-specific information about services relating to employment, education and entrepreneurship in their vicinity.

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