Below are the basic steps that we hope will be helpful to the aspiring entrepreneur:
Step 1. Ideas and Life plan:
Every business begins with a generation of a business idea. Think carefully and honestly about where you are now in your life (personally and professionally). Consider work, recreation, relationships, finances and anything else that’s important to you. And then jot down some simple, succinct bullet points in each of these categories:
Step 2. Business Model:
The key is to choose a business model that fits your Life Plan. This will ensure that you spend the right number of hours each week, take the right level of risk (some models involve more risk than others), are practical in terms of your financial wherewithal, and gain the kind of satisfaction and success you're after.
Step 3. The Business Plan:
The process of creating and writing a business plan is as valuable as the end product/service itself - a document that will provide the priorities, context and sanity you’ll need as you start up your business.
Just remember that the most important audience for a business plan is YOU! You’ll be forced to be accountable to all of the statements, claims, statistics and facts inside of it.
You may also use your business plan as a tool to generate interest from financiers, prospective employees and strategic partners.
Step 4. Business structures;
There’s no universally “right” structure for all businesses. Choosing the best one depends on the specific needs you and your business have. Before setting up your business/company, it’s important to understand all the options available to you - in particular, you’ll want to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of each business formation, paying special attention to the tax implications and government formalities.
It is important to look at the four main forms of business ownership in this step:
- Sole Proprietorships
- Limited Liability Companies
- Do you want investors as shareholders in your company?
- Do you want to maintain control of the company if you have investors involved?
- Do you anticipate losses in the early stages that can be taken as tax benefits by shareholders?
- Do you want to avoid double taxation?
- Is there a great risk of liability associated with your specific business?
It is a well-known fact in the business world that your company assets are only as good as your ability to protect them. This is especially true where intellectual property is concerned. Whether it’s your company name, logo, latest invention or best-selling product, it’s imperative that you take certain steps to secure your ownership rights.
Typical key assets in this step may include:
- Website Address
- Trademarks (Logos, catch phrases)
- Provisional Applications for Patents
- Inventor's Logs
- Confidentiality Agreements
To register a company in Zambia is a right for those who wish to associate and form themselves into a company pursuant to the Companies Act, Cap 388 of the common Laws of Zambia.
For further details on how to go about it, please visit the Patents and Companies Registration Office (PACRO) website on www.pacro.org.zm. or their offices at Mwayi House, Longacres ,Haile Selasie Road, Lusaka. They also have offices in Livingstone and Chipata as well.
It is also important to note that the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) also registers businesses as their members. These businesses that are located in urban areas enjoy a tax holiday of a 3 year term while those in rural areas a 5 year term.
For further details on the above and other benefits of formally registering your business with the ZDA visit their website on www.zda.org.zm or indeed their head offices at Privatization House, Nasser Road, Lusaka.
Step 6. Capital:
This is a critical step. You’ve got to find funding for your business but ensure that it’s the right kind of funding. Yes, there’s the adage, “beggars can’t be choosers,” but the fact is, you must be selective and smart when seeking money for your start-up or it could turn your dream business into a nightmare.
To identify which form of financing is just right for you, think about your long-term personal and business goals and the type of business you’re planning to launch.
Money comes in many forms from Bank loans to taking equity out of your home to government lending initiatives such as the Citizens Economic Empowerment fund etc.
Step 7. Logistics
These are not the most exciting aspect of starting up a business, but having your logistics in order can mean the difference between success and failure. Having your books in order, your contracts buttoned up, your money safely managed and your downside covered are each critical to your personal and business future. Accountants, lawyers, bankers, insurance agents - the big four -are some of the people that can help you get organized and put you on a path to starting up on a very good note. These service providers will be instrumental as you grow, too.
In addition to the “big four,” there are other service providers that may be vital to your business success. For example, you might need a website developer or a realtor – it just depends on your business model and plan.
Before you start your search for these service providers, it’s important to know what you want to accomplish with each of them, and to set a well-defined budget to meet your goals. Once you’ve hired these professionals, you should work with them to establish clear milestones to reach, a strict timeline for reaching them and a plan for communicating with each other along the way.
Regardless of who you retain, they should be well-versed in assisting entrepreneurs, and they should understand the nature of your industry. Most importantly, you should be able to trust them. Therefore, the best way to find these service providers is through referrals from your friends, business associates and organizations such as the Zambia Chamber of Small and Medium Business Associations (ZCSMBA) which looks after the welfare of MSME’s in the country.
Step 8. Staff:
In a small business, the impact of a single team member can be enormous. Every person you add to your team must be a star. Is that possible? Absolutely. First, make sure you define what a star is within each role of your company. Then you can go find them. There is no harm in engaging family members as long they will add value to your business.
Step 9. Branding:
One of the most important assets you can develop for your business is a powerful brand. Brands are not just logos or tag lines. Brands are the culmination of who you are, how you’re different from your competition, and why a buyer should do business with you.
Whether you’re an established company or small start-up, a brand has tremendous impact. A brand instils confidence, creates loyalty, and many times can command a premium price. But most of all a great brand reduces a buyer’s perception of risk and makes the purchase choice easy.
Developing a brand is much more than just deciding on a name or picking some colours. A brand is the sum of all you do. It’s derived from all your touch points with your customers and prospects. Developing a brand requires having a plan that consistently communicates what your company is and does, along with your distinct attributes, image, and personality
Step 10. Marketing:
This last step in our start-up process is all about getting the word out about your business so customers come through your door (or perhaps to your homepage).
First and foremost, you’ll need to study up on your target audience to develop a marketing message that will resonate with them.
Once you’ve got a grasp of how to best express the “special sauce” of what you offer, make sure you maintain that message consistently throughout your marketing efforts. It should be reinforced repeatedly to build on your brand identity and to give people a clear reason to be interested in your business.
And lastly to get yourself up the curve on marketing, you will need an approach to defining your target market. That will surely get you prepared for setting a strategy to move forward.
For more on business start-up and business development services, Kindly visit the ZCSMBA Business Development Services and Resource Center located at the ZCSMBA Stand, Blue gum Walk, Showgrounds in Lusaka.
ZCSMBA “Unlocking the Power of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises”