Setting Up a Small Business In Cyprus

There are three critical steps for setting up a small business for success.  Keep in mind that your success is not a matter of luck. It’s a question of design.

When I opened my first business in Cyprus several years ago, I had no idea of what to do.  I didn’t know how to set up my business legally or what systems I’d have to put in place. All I had was a burning desire to never work for anyone else again!

I, like most have made many mistakes in the process but am still around to tell the tale & in this case offer a bit of learned advice to those of you thinking of setting up a small business here.

1. The Plan - If You Fail To Plan You Plan To Fail!

The first part of your plan has to be your type of business. Are you starting from scratch or will you purchase an existing business? The benefits of purchasing an established business in a country that you may not have lived in long is obviously the ‘good will’ the brand name, the premises & the regular customer base that is already in place. These sort of things can take years to build up & in essence this is what you are paying for over & above stock or equipment in the purchase price. You can alternatively start from scratch on your own, this will require a lot more planning & preparation including your most important decision; what sort of service or product will you be offering?

Do your research, how many other companies in the area provide a similar product or service & how does yours differ from theirs? Many professions in Cyprus are highly saturated so you will have to have a very distinct point of difference to stand out from the crowd. It is always best to stick to your strengths. If you have done a certain type of job or business before then try to work your business around those skills as opposed to trying to do something completely new, after all there is no substitute for experience.

Decide who your target market will be. Will it be tourists, holiday makers, locals, nationals or a mix of anyone from any nationality anywhere? Remember, you are in Cyprus so things may be different in your type of business here as opposed to back in the UK for example. Get good advice & research companies already doing what you want to do. Lack of cultural knowledge or the way in which things are expected to be done/business is conducted in Cyprus could cost you your business if you are not careful.

Be very meticulous about all the variables, but accept the fact that you can’t know everything & you can’t anticipate all the outcomes. Once you have decided on your product/service you will need a marketing plan. This is an idea of how you are going to get your product or service known. This could be through flyers, advertising, special promotions an official opening, website, Facebook etc. You will also need to think about expenses: advertising, staff, equipment, premises, setting up a website, setting up a legal company with a Solicitor/Accountant, company bank account, social insurance payments & any licenses you may need to hold..... Cyprus has many so do your homework & get professional legal advice before you begin trading.

2. Working Capital

Anticipate how much money you’ll need to fund your business & your family for six to twelve months. Make sure you have enough working capital & start-up capital for your small business to keep both going for at least six months…but don’t stop there.  Is it reasonable to assume that your business will generate enough profit to carry itself & your family by the time you run out of working capital?

It is also important to remember that Cyprus can be very seasonal with trade dropping quite dramatically in Winter not only due to the lack of Tourists but also due to the vast number of residents who are unemployed in the Winter with little to no income & also due to a large number of residents flying back to their home countries during this time of year.

3. Plan ‘B’

When I started my own business I knew that I never wanted to go back to work for anybody…but I knew I could if I had to. This was important. It reduced the stakes a little.

If you support others, you have a responsibility. This doesn’t have to stop you from starting your own business. Just think about your fallback position.  Know at what point you’ll have to fall back to it.  Most importantly, stick to your time frame. Don’t allow things to drag on if they aren’t working.

Finally, there will be times when the pressure & responsibility of running your own company weigh heavy & you will wonder if you will ever see a light at the end of the tunnel. Equally there will be times when you feel focused, driven, excited & fit to burst, these are the times to remember.... this is what will keep you going.
Be courageous, honest & professional, embrace competition along with obstacles & challenges. Enjoy the journey!

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