In Part 1. of ‘How can I make my Balloon Business Successful and Fail-Proof’ post we look at why someone might start their own balloon company and why not all balloon businesses succeed. To read this post click HERE.
In part 2. we look at the steps that you need to take that will definitely help you to get off to a good start.
1. How to run a business?It is important to do your research before starting your business. You need to be excited and passionate about your new impending journey.
Write a Business Plan. A business plan is a written document that describes your business. It covers objectives, strategies, sales, marketing and financial forecasts.
A business plan helps you to:
- clarify your business idea
- spot potential problems
- set out your goals
- measure your progress
- Open a business bank account
- Invoice customers
- Write terms & conditions
- Set up a website and social media business accounts
- Order business cards
- Open trade accounts
Obviously, having the word balloon somewhere in your business name is important and if you can include your location too, that would be a huge bonus!
Start by registering your business – in the UK visit https://www.gov.uk/set-up-business
You will need:
- Insurance Cover – You may not consider that having insurance cover is important but all businesses should have it, including home based businesses. There are a number of different insurances that a business should have:
- Public & Products liability – which insures your business against third party claims for personal injury or property damage.
- Professional Indemnity – covers your professional advice.
- Employer’s liability – provides cover for your employees (this is legally required) and If you are operating your business from a shop or store you will also require
- Building and Contents insurance.
Find an Accountant or Bookkeeper – It might be advisable to find an accountant who will tell you what you will need to do to ensure that you fulfil your tax obligations.
Comply with data laws – It’s not just big companies that need to know about General Data Protection Regulation – GDPR. Small businesses also have a legal responsibility to keep personal data safe and provide a clear policy on how that data will be used and why.
Employing Staff – If you are employing staff there are so many other legal requirements by which you will need to abide. We strongly recommend that you look into all of those too!
2. Funding and FinanceHow much money do you need to start a business? You might not need much of an initial investment if you’re starting small.
Things that you will need to consider:
- Courses and training – learning the fundamental skills is definitely a great way to kick-start your business. Future courses will help you to develop new skills, techniques and learn industry tips and hints.
- Specialist equipment – make sure you budget for any equipment or tools, balloon professionals use helium, electric balloon inflators and many other specialist tools.
- Products – if you’re setting up a shop or selling your own creations, you will need to get your stock together… and this will be an on-going investment.
Keep in mind you might be able to find grants for new businesses to help lighten the financial burden. The benefit of a small business grant rather than a loan is that you don’t usually have to pay the money back.
Be aware that it can take your business two to three years to reach profitability!
3. Marketing and Publicity
- Create a Google My Business page to help get you noticed
- Do competitor research – competitor analysis helps you understand the market, set your prices, and find a way to stand out.
- Build a social media presence – social media is a great way to showcase your brand’s personality and tone of voice, connect with customers, and even sell your products with tools like Facebook Shops and Instagram.
- Create a website with SEO – optimise your website for search engines so people can find your business and understand the products or service you offer
- Send emails and newsletters – a simple and cost-effective way to keep in touch with your customers and boost sales.
- Use flyers and print marketing – a tangible way to reach potential customers
- Network at industry events – get to know your industry and make connections at virtual or in-person events
4. Research and Market knowledge
Market research is the process of gathering and analysing information about customer groups, competitors, the balloon industry and the general business environment. Whether a company is small or large, market research plays a vital role in decisions about what products or services to offer and how to sell them. As a small business owner, gathering market information is an ongoing process and a high priority. This will give greater confidence in the decisions you makes knowing the information is based on solid data rather than guesswork or hunches.
- Assess the feasibility of a venture – does the market place need what you are offering?
- Determine what customers really want – don’t assume that your customers want what you think they want, do some research.
- Monitor your competitors – study their advertisements, visit their websites, ask business associates about them or even visit their businesses. You should also be aware of new competitors planning to enter the market.
- Identifying Opportunities – strive for continual growth and always be on the lookout for emerging opportunities, such as new products or services you could offer.
- Spotting Potential Trouble Ahead – Small businesses are affected by the performance and direction of the local and national economy.
Here is a little more advice that I pick up from a couple of balloon professionals
Consider ’employing’ a mentor in your early days, you will have so many questions and as much as you can ask these on various Facebook groups, you will probably get many different responses and still won’t be any the wiser And if you don’t pay them, they really aren’t on the hook to help. They won’t really care.
Build a strong local network quicker. I AM only 3 years in and was always friendly to a couple of local artistS, but in the last 12 – 18 months a group of 9/10 of us have formed an online chat and it’s been a GODSEND. Comparing techniques, borrowing materials, passing on customers, moans about clients; we don’t see each other as competition but as a support system. I wished I’d been part of something like this earlier on, as it’s really helpful.
If you are new to your ballooning journey, I wish you every success, and hopefully you can take some of the advice from this post to help you on your way!
Follow me @suebowler