Starting A Small Business in Uganda
Thinking of starting a small business or already in the early stages of your new business? If your answer is yes, then you want to make sure you have the right tools and information to help you prepare thoroughly for the growth of your small business.
In this article, we have prepared 8 key things that have been adopted from real-life business experience and that will definitely and positively impact your small business in the early startup stages.
1. Do your market research
Research is the easiest way to put your business ideas to test. It is therefore important that you look out for resources and information about the business you would like to start.
Market research can be done for example by gathering information about your potential customers, understanding market trends, analysing product prices, connecting with potential suppliers, and learning about the competition or businesses in a similar industry.
This will enable you to acquire more knowledge about the business you want to start, enlighten you about the opportunities in the industry, and potentially enable you to understand what your customers are looking for, and most importantly what other businesses are not doing right.
All these are great opportunities that you can build on while crafting your business plan and drawing your initial SWOT analysis.
As you do your research, its also important to consider regional and national statistics on trade, population, and industries. In business, numbers are paramount, and thus very important to understand the potential of your market. For Uganda, you can check out The Uganda Bureau of Statistics.
Also, find time to check out URA for tax requirements.
2. Choose your business name
Assuming you have done your research, and you are convinced that you have a good idea, and you are confident that you can bring new value to the market; the next thing we can consider now is choosing your business name.
Realistically, selecting a business name should be part of your market research, and this can be very helpful in selecting a business name that communicates well to your potential customers, and at the same time makes you unique from the competition.
It is not wise to choose a name that is close or similar to your competitor or an already established business.
Take enough time to select a good business name, as this can have a huge impact on your business branding and marketing in the future.
In this digital era, one of the easiest ways to test and research a business name is to do an online name search or domain search.
If you realize that your name is not used by other businesses already, then you can go ahead with it, but if there already many businesses using the same name online, that means you might have a big struggle to promote your business or claim your online presence.
Search tools for your small business
The following tools can help you in the name search.
- Use Google: Just Google search your desired name and see the results from Google. Based on the results, you can innovate your business name.
- Namecheckr: is a domain and social media search. This shows you if your business domain is already taken or available. If your business name domain or social media user name is taken, then potentially someone else is using that name already.
Even though such tools may not guarantee total accuracy, they can help you in crafting a unique business name that can grow into a global brand with time.
3. Write your business plan
Things are getting interesting now, its now time to organize everything we have gathered into a proper presentation or plan. Its time to put together a business plan.
In the early stages of the business, its highly recommended to prepare a lean business plan, rather than a compact traditional plan. This is because in the early stages of the business, everything is still a test, and things keep on changing from time to time.
A traditional and detailed business plan can trap you into unrealistic thoughts and imaginations.
So, since we are planning for a small business, we can focus only on the key elements of the business, for example, key customers, key partners, key activities, key resources, customer segments, your delivery channels, your cost and revenue management, and your unique selling point. As things fall into place, you can continue improving your plan as the business grows.
You can download the business model canvas to help you plan for your small business on one single page.
4. Register and legalize your small business
Formal registration is the only way to legally own your business, without registration, anyone can claim your name. This means that you might have to go back to square one of processing a new business name, potentially create new social media accounts, or even buy a new domain name.
Formal registration also comes with formal business opportunities and contracts. A single formal contract can highly impact your business and can open more business connections for you as a business owner and for your business.
Large companies prefer dealing with registered businesses, and this makes it hard for informal businesses to work with them. A small business needs a few good contracts to get off the ground, and if you are doing things well, referrals will come your way.
Contracts can also save you from spending big on marketing campaigns in the early stages of your business. This will help you focus on serving better your clients.
Visit URSB for registration options and guidelines.
5. Open a business bank account
You won’t be able to get a business bank account without a formal business registration certificate. This another reason why you should register your business.
But let us talk about what you can do with your business bank account; at the moment, one of the best things you can do with your business account is to receive money online.
As business and trade shift, there is a growing demand for online payment gateways that allows small business to collect payments using mobile money or Visa cards. Most of the platforms will require a business account for small business to use their platforms.
Currently there are many friendly bank accounts offers from different banks, specifically designed to support small businesses in their early stages. Do your research and find a bank that offers the best for your business.
6 Choose your partners well.
As a small business, one of the easiest ways to reduce costs is by collaborating with other services providers. These could be delivery service providers like Boda-boda riders, packaging, or printing partners.
Having a strong relationship with such partners and service providers while ensuring that there are no breakdowns or delays in your main service delivery to your end-users or customers. Always maintain a good relationship with your key partners, and choose them wisely.
7. Consider an exit strategy/affordable loss
The best exit strategy in business is calculating your affordable loss and starting small. Affordable loss is the ability to determine how much investment you are willing to lose at an early stage of your business or as you test your idea.
This enables you to test your business on the smallest budget without risking losing your money, but at the same time maximizing resources to make a profit.
Your affordable losing could be doing the previous six steps right, and for example, ensuring that you get your first contract before or after your business registration. This helps you to invest only when there are actual results. Affordable loss can be your calculated risk.
8. Brand yourself and advertise
As things get into place and if the business seems to be working, its now time to get started with some serious branding of your businesses. If you do not have a logo yet, it should be a good time to talk to a good designer to craft something good for your business.
Plan for better marketing strategies and get yourself a business website to help your drive your identity 24/7. Check out our branding services for small business.
Developing any business can take time and can be exhausting for many. Understanding the dynamics of starting up is important for anyone starting a small or a business of any size.
You need to be patient when things don’t go according to plan, and you must be open to learning from setbacks as this is a good way to revise plans and ask yourself what did work well, and what you can do differently in the next attempts.