Being an entrepreneur may sound a challenging thing to do. However, starting a business is not as difficult as you may think. There are actually ways that you can start a business up and running in 3 days. Before we go into details, I would like to share some basic rules that one may consider before starting any business:
- Cash flow is everything: a good business plan must provide you a reasonable forecast of the breakeven point. Even it may take time before breakeven point can be met, you should at least ensure the cash on hand should maintain a comfortable level at all times. E.g. cash should be more than 2 to 3 months of total expenses and running costs.
- Focus on your core competencies: small business owners are often side-tracked by spending too much time on doing administrative tasks without really spending time to focus on selling products or services of their core competencies. In many cases, you can just spend very little money by getting services from service providers to handle those small tasks for you, which you can save a lot of time to focus on the higher priority tasks.
- Simple is beautiful: sometimes we are all so fond of our business ideas and may go too far into very complicated business models. No matter you are a startup company or a well established company, my reminder to everyone is simple is beautiful! We should try our best to keep our business model as simple as possible.
So with the above recommendations in mind, I am going to show you some tips and tricks in starting a business in just 3 days.
Day 1 – A company is born!
This is certainly the most exciting day in the first 3 days of your company. Planning and market research on which service providers maybe the better choices for your case is required in order go smoothly with your business plan!
- Registering your company – you may have thought of a very good name for your own company but one of the ways to avoid all the waiting required for government company registrations processes is to buy a ready-to-use company, or otherwise known as “shell company” from a business service agency. Most Business Centers and Accounting firms do offer such service in helping you to buy Shell Companies which can be more or less ready instantly. The price of a Shell Company (Limited Company) may vary from HK$1000 to $2000 plus government fee of HK$4,330.
- Getting your company address – You don’t need to sacrifice your privacy even you are working from home as your office when you start your business. The easiest way to do is to register your company under a Business Centre or Accounting Firm which mails from government and any business correspondences can be sent to such address. Most Business Centers should offer such service less than HK$100 per month if you are not particular about the areas of the address. Personally, I think it is optional to subscribe a secretarial phone service but it is always nice for your customers to hear a real person to answer the calls when you are busy than a voice mail recording!
- Setting up your company website and email domain – Having gotten a company name from the pre-registered Shell Company, you are now ready to apply for a website and email domain for your company. It is actually cheaper, easier and faster to apply for an international (US) domain, i.e. “.com” domain through a Web Hosting company which they can apply the domain on your behalf and set up a default website including email addresses (POP3) ready to use within hours. My fastest experience only took 6 hours before everything was up and running. The prices of the most basic package may vary from HK$450 to HK$800 including domain registration and web hosting for 12 months depending on the storage size and other additional features required.
- Getting an appointment with a commercial banker – It actually takes a couple of weeks before you can complete all the procedures. However, it only takes a few days before you may start depositing money into the accounts.
Day 2 – Getting Ready for Business
With a new company registered and website/emails setup, the next important thing is to setup a commercial bank account and start marketing your business.
- Setting up a commercial bank account – the process of setting up a commercial bank account is not very difficult but you should consider applying Credit Cards, getting insurance for your employees and registering mandatory provident funds all at once to save you a lot of time to deal with them individually later. A number of banks actually do have such services under the same roof. So for the sake of making it simple, you should consider those banks can provide one stop shop!
- Refining your company website ready for marketing – even your company website domain is ready to use, a lot more effort is required in order to make it perfect. However, my personal opinion is that you do not need a perfect website before you can start selling your services and products. The most basic information you really need is to tell your customers what are your Products and Services and how to contact you if they are interested. The simplest way to start is to create your first draft by using some existing templates provided in Microsoft Office (Word or PowerPoint). The advantage of using these templates is that you can actually use it as briefing document to your website designers. Professional website designers can deliver basic 5 pages websites with flash graphics in 2 days with prices between HK$2500 to HK$5000.
Day 3 – Doing Business for Real
Unless you have existing customers on hand, otherwise, marketing your company is the mandatory action you need to do before you can get any business.
- Registering your company website on Internet Search Engines – customers nowadays use Internet to search their desired products and services become a mandatory action. Therefore, registering your company website on Internet Search Engines is extremely important. Though you maybe listed for free if you go and register under the web directories of Internet Search Engines, it might take a very long while before your company could be appeared. My recommendation is you should in parallel go and do sponsor links on some popular Search Engines like Yahoo, the minimum requirement is to deposit HK$240. Then more or less instantly within an hour, your company website and description can be listed as sponsored links on Yahoo when matching keywords are searched. Obviously, it takes time to learn and get yourself familiar with the tool but you will get it if you are willing to learn. My personal experience it only took 45mins after my initial posting to get the first sales enquiry call. That was impressive! However, this can be a very expensive act. So do it with care!
In summary, I have only shown you some best know methods and they are not the only way to start a business. Everyone knows entrepreneurship requires a lot of energy and risk taking. The beauty of it is you will get the positive reward if you are willing to trade off your time and effort with the right methods. There is no short-cut and we just need to continue to learn and change according to the situations as required. All the best to those who want to be an entrepreneur!