Entrepreneurs from 2020 shared 5 things you should know if you’re starting a business this year

Starting a business is always a risk, but now it’s time to use the free time gained from lockdown to your advantage

Open sign
Photo by Tim Mossholder

As we found ourselves in ongoing lockdowns with the Welsh government being often stricter with the restrictions, owning a business was difficult for many. The uncertainty has been discouraging from creating a start-up, but 2021 might be the time to do it.

Many businesses weren’t ready to spend a year under restrictions. Not all of them were able to operate online, often simply because of the company’s nature. According to a survey by PracticeWeb, more than a third were struggling, and 16 per cent had to close. That being said, 29 per cent of businesses were continuing trade as usual.

Even though people talk about going back to normal, the past year’s events will affect business in the near future. As the Welsh government has begun easing the restrictions, it is time to take what we’ve learnt and apply it to our businesses.

“It’s always a good time and never a good time to start a business. People should just go for it and give it a go.”

Anna Robinson
1. Be passionate, but don’t forget to do your research

Passion is essential, especially when many people spent their time in lockdown rethinking their careers. Still, it is not enough when creating a business, and sometimes we can forget about originality and make a flawed market research.

According to Business Wales, 20% of new businesses fail during the early years of trading. While the reasons vary and often are more than one, not properly researching the market often plays a big role.

When we develop business ideas, the chances are someone else has already done it; it might have even been done repeatedly. Just because there are similarities, it doesn’t mean you’re doomed. You need to figure out how your business will stand out, what makes it unique, and mainly why should people care.

Try to see what others think of your idea. Share with your friends and potential customers. Not only they can share their opinion on it with you, but they can help you to come up with new ones, create a new direction and help you narrow down your target audience.

If your product gets lost in the sea of others, it means it’s not different enough and that you don’t know who your customers are.

2. Think about starting small

It takes time for business to take off and be somewhat successful. For that reason, some small business owners start small at first and only focus on it part-time.

When Anna Robinson, artist and founder of Bold Dino, started her small business, it was only a side thing for her, more of a hobby. It took her more than a year to decide to make it her full-time job.

People often think they have to go “all in” when starting, but that isn’t always true. Taking it slow might test your patience, but it will help you establish the brand, and you’ll get a better understanding of your customers.

Though we’re told to dream big, and your idea should be big enough, you also have to be realistic.

3. Social media will be your best friend
Instagram and TikTok are becoming the leading social media platforms
Photo by @dole777

Using social media is a necessity nowadays. No matter what your relationship with the platforms is, it is crucial to learn how they work. Unless you decide to hire someone to run your social media accounts, but even in that case, you should have some knowledge to make sure your brand is safe. Hiring a social media manager usually happens later when the business is set up and can afford more employees.

Don’t ignore a platform just because you’re not familiar with it. Many businesses are still overlooking TikTok as it’s still often seen as a platform for children and young adults. The number of users in their 20s and 30s keeps slowly rising, and there is the ongoing support of small business owners. While Instagram is better for consistency, going a little bit viral on TikTok brings many new customers.

The common mistake among new businesses is their approach to these platforms. As they try to make it look as professional as possible, they forget what social media are about getting to know real people.

“People usually start to follow small businesses because they like the idea of it being a real person behind the account. People make the mistakes of posting a lot about the business but not enough about themselves,” commented Anna on her experience.

4. Be cautious, but don’t be scared to invest,

We don’t mean you should use all your savings to start your business, but you will have to make some investments.

Create a financial plan with your budgets, estimated sales and monthly (or even weekly) cash flow forecast. It’s crucial you stick to it, so you don’t risk losing everything. Advisors suggest having emergency savings that can cover three months of spending.

You will need to find a balance between being cautious and taking small risks by investing. Anna was scared to use some of the money she made through the business back into it. In summer 2020, she decided to take that risk, and it paid off.

I was a bit nervous about investing the money in it, so it took me longer than it should’ve. If I’ve known, I would’ve invested sooner,

said Anna.
5. Empty spaces

The ongoing pandemic hit businesses hard, especially if they weren’t able to sell their products online. Types of those vary from clothes shops to family restaurants. It didn’t matter how big the company is.

In January, we have seen Debenhams stores around the UK close. That created a hole in the Welsh city centres, and people wonder what will replace them. While Debenhams was one of the most significant due to their stores’ size, they weren’t the only ones.

“After the pandemic, I want to give more thought to having a store in the city because, at the moment, it’s all just online,” commented Anna.

These closures will create spaces available to rent out for new businesses in and around city centres which tend to be occupied by big brands. At the moment, no one can tell for sure what will everything look like when we’re allowed to go back to ‘normal’. We know that online shopping won’t disappear, but people are looking forward to shopping in person again.

TikTok tips for businesses
  • Keep an eye on what the current trends are
  • Use popular sounds
  • Be human – TikTok users aren’t interested in ads, they’re interested in you
  • Make behind the scenes content
  • Share your experience and stories – how did you start your business? Why? Tell your followers
  • Don’t get discouraged by low views – you can find lot of accounts that have few viral videos and many with almost no views. Try different approaches
  • Approach influencers – as TikTok is quite new platform, influencers are more willing work with businesses