The Pasta Technique:
How to Start a Business
Based on a recent study performed by Professor Christian Friedrich from Moneyweb – In South Africa 70% to 80% of new businesses fail within the first 5 years.
That’s a scary statistic and one to constantly remind yourself of.
Think of it this way:
Starting a business has never been considered easy – but it is achievable.
In this article, I’m going to go through what you can actively do to defy the odds and become a successful entrepreneur by going through the biggest obstacles that a new business faces.
This guide will give you all the information you need to start a successful business by skipping the queues at CIPC.
The Pasta Technique
From an early age, I watched my mother throw pasta against the wall to test if it was ready. When I first saw her do this I thought she was crazy – however, once I started cooking myself, I learned it’s a true test to see if your food is ready.
Starting a business is exactly like cooking – there’s a certain set of ingredients and a methodology.
Without knowing that you should throw your pasta at the wall to see if it’s ready, you could either eat it too raw or overdone and it won’t taste as good as it should.
Planning & Execution
The most critical factor that distinguishes whether a business (or meal) succeeds or fails is planning. Planning doesn’t just include the initial idea but most importantly the execution.
You should have a detailed roadmap (or business plan) of what you want to do and how you plan to do it.
This should include every aspect you can think of:
What will I sell or what service will I provide?
How do I register a company?
How will I get funding?
Should I get a partner?
Do I need employees?
The good news is it’s not quite as complicated anymore to get up and running as thing have changed over time. There’s also a ton of useful information available on the internet (see below).
As a new entrepreneur looking to start a company, one of the most useful skills you need to learn is knowing when to outsource and when to do things yourself. Time is money and you should rather focus on revenue generating activities.
Using the Internet & Leverage Networking
We live and work in the Digital age and the internet is probably one of the best tools out there – and it is really cheap and easy to access.
You can check your email, look up share prices, order an Uber, check your bank account – the list goes on and on! It can be one of the most useful resources when looking for valuable information about starting a company.
New business owners now have a wealth of information at their fingertips. In the Digital age, you should definitely use the internet for everything; from taking the first steps to starting a business, marketing to getting customers and selling your products or services, etc….
I recently published a post about starting your own business that provides a collection of useful internet based resources for free to help you get started.
Don’t just stop there though, research further about your product or service and your competitors. What are they doing differently? Why are they doing it?
Another aspect that should be considered is reaching out – the internet allows you to reach almost anyone and communication these days is so often overlooked. When you find the person you are looking for – pick up a phone and call them! Don’t just rely on emails.
If you want your business to succeed you need to become a master at networking as the connections you make will help you for years to come.
Cashflow & Budgeting
Cash is king, or so the saying goes.
New businesses can often require heavy investments of money to get up and running. In the market place, it typically takes 2 to 3 years to start seeing a return on investment for a startup company.
This doesn’t mean that the entrepreneur will not have any income for the first 2 or 3 years, it simply means the company is making a loss on paper.
It’s very important to understand the difference between the two and realize that without financial planning you could spend all your money in the first month on things you don’t actually need to get started.
Start small and build slowly saving every little bit of money that you can. Realize that without marketing you’re not going to make any sales and therefore focus on driving in new business and building relationships.
Freshbooks posted a useful article on a 5-step plan to creating a business budget which I highly recommend you take a look at.
It’s also important to know how you’re going to fund the business – are you going to fund the business with money from your full-time job? Will you get an investor on board? Do you have the money yourself?
You should know the answers to all these questions and plan accordingly.
Sales & Marketing
This is the bread and butter of your business. How you’ll pay the bills and most importantly how you’ll treat your customers.
Businesses are not about money, businesses are about people. Focus on people and the money will flow. Relationships are key and you need to build them from day one if you want to be successful.
In today’s age, it’s also vital to establish yourself as a reputable company that’s accountable for its actions. The way we communicate with customers has changed and customers are not afraid to be heard.
Establish yourself online and your business will become much more successful.
It’s also important to start a blog to give people useful information so that they can actually understand your business, your products and determine whether they wish to do business with you.
Blogs are also an exceptionally useful way to gain visibility online and often will help you promote your business through SEO. Here’s an example of a list of cloud computing sites that have gained better visibility on the internet simply by keeping an up to date blog.
Blogs are also a way of establishing yourself as a subject matter expert and therefore boost confidence in your target market.
As I mentioned above, you need to network to be successful – start today!
Once you’ve started making a bit of money you might want to start bringing on additional hands to help out with the day to day tasks of the company.
Employees are the first representation of your business to your customers and therefore you need to be very careful about the type of individual you bring on.
When you interview people be sure to ask important questions and assess how they are as a person. A trial period is also recommended before they become a full-time staff member: in many countries it is difficult to get rid of staff if they are not a good fit and thus you want to make this assessment as early as possible.
Even though you can hire all the help you want – always remember your role in your business: focusing on revenue generating activities.
Make sure you’re always making key decisions and playing a vital role in the day to day running of the business. This doesn’t mean you can’t give out marketing or sales jobs, it just means that you need to focus on the biggest driver. You might be able to make a sale of 100, but if you hire 2 people they could make sales for 200 and free you up to focus on other important tasks.
Always remember businesses are about people.
Tax Registration & Compliance
Probably not at the top of your thoughts when you’re still starting up but it’s crucial to get ahead on your taxes to make sure you are compliant with the laws of your country.
As you continue to grow and start to make money you will need to register your employees for tax, pay sales tax or VAT and pay income tax for your company. If you fall behind you’ll get hit with penalties and interest, both of which are tough on a new company. Get ahead today by looking into tax registration.
There is good news though – if you have made a loss you are able to offset this loss with future income thus reducing your tax liability.
You should have a Chartered Accountant or CPA on hand to help you with all your tax obligations.
In South Africa, the tax authority is SARS .
Starting a business is definitely no easy feat and requires patience and hard work.
Planning is the foundation to anything that is wildly successful and thus it will save a ton of money to wait until you’re completely ready to start.
Outsourcing can be helpful and allow you to accomplish much more than what you ordinarily would, however you never want to lose track of the goal and your involvement in your business.
Please leave a comment below if you enjoyed this article and let me know if you think I missed any crucial key pointers for new entrepreneurs!