4 steps to starting a business

The Apprentice's Saira Khan gives us her tips on starting a business from scratch


4 steps to starting a business

Saira Khan is a successful businesswoman and TV presenter. She was a finalist on the first series of The Apprentice, and now presents the children’s television series Trade Your Way To The USA, also co-presenting ITV's prime time Martin Lewis Money Show. Her business, miamoo, sells natural skincare products for all the family. She gives Psychologies her first steps to starting a business from scratch.

1. Preparation The first step is finding out if there are any potential customers for your product or service. There are simple and cost-effective ways of doing market research by using social media, like creating your own customer survey on Facebook or Twitter. Test your product out in your local area, see if independent shops will sell your product or test it on friends and family. A main part of the preparation is to learn how to sell; persuading people to buy into your product or service is a key skill. A good way to practice selling skills is to hold a car boot sale, persuade, negotiate and barter your way to success.

2. Plan Your business plan will be the foundation to your start-up, so it is imperative that this is detailed and realistic. When someone looks at your business plan they will look at the credibility of your numbers, and if they stack up. A good place to start is to look at other people's business models and if they work, then there is a high percentage yours will too. Your plan will also have to demonstrate that your product can be better than the competition in the same market, demonstrate that you can lead your product or service into the market a win over the market share. Lastly, you will be the biggest selling point to any potential investor; you have to be able to demonstrate passion and knowledge about your product and the conviction to keep going.

3. Money It’s a difficult time to start anything in this economic climate. Banks are not lending so easily and investors are being very picky about what they want to put their money into. I would keep a full time job and work on my start up at the same time until I got to a point where the start-up was giving me a profit I could live off. Starts up are stressful and it takes time to make money, but if you have the passion and the conviction and some money  – go for it!

4. Time Time management is key and being highly organised is essential. When you run a start-up you will most likely be doing it whilst still having another full time job, so at the beginning it will be lots of hard work and long hours. Having lots of energy and keeping positive is crucial!