Sep Thu 2020

Team Simplebooks

How to Start a Business in Sri Lanka

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Starting your own business in Sri Lanka may sound like a challenging task. How to start, what are the steps to take, what to avoid, could be some of the questions you are having. However, do not worry! We are here to help. Read our guide to find out everything you need to know about starting your own business—from coming up with a business idea to launching it successfully!

As a country with a growing economy, Sri Lanka provides a great platform for emerging businesses. With a diverse population of more than 21.5 million people, Sri Lanka is an ideal place for anyone to start a business—especially for small scale business opportunities.

Here are some important steps to consider when launching your business:

Generate a business idea 

As a person who wants to start your own business, you may be wondering which idea would work over here. 

Here are some small business ideas you could consider in Sri Lanka:

  • Homemade food—For a startup, a food business would be ideal in a country like Sri Lanka. If you opened the UberEats app, you would notice there are a large number of successful food businesses currently being operated from homes due to the increasing demand. It is one of the most popular businesses in the market right now. If you are a person who loves to cook or find this area exciting, consider this idea!
  • Digital marketing services—As the world is becoming digitalized, many businesses start relying on digital marketing to expand their businesses. If you are a person with marketing skills, you may start your own agency and provide digital marketing services to companies selling products and delivering services.
  • Planting—Did you know planting is a growing business in Sri Lanka right now? There is a big demand for plants such as succulents and other indoor plants in the Sri Lankan market. People have made it a habit to give small succulent plants as gifts, and in fact, having indoor plants is a popular hobby.
  • Photography and videography—If you are interested in capturing moments or love photography and videography as a hobby, you can easily convert it into a business and start earning a good amount of money.
  • Beauty salon—Everybody prefers to maintain how they look. This is another great option if you want to start your own business as you would come across customers who require cosmetic treatments.
  • Online bookstore—If you have ever been to Big Bad Wolf, you would have noticed the large number of book enthusiasts in Sri Lanka. From fantasy and Sci-Fi to non-fiction, there is a wide range of genres people prefer to read. Currently, there are successful online bookstores operating through social media and building a customer base of book readers 
  • Web designing—Many businesses use websites to function. If you are someone with web design and development skills, you can easily start a business with it as there are many people looking for web designing talent.

Do your research and work on a business plan

Once you have an idea about the type of business you want to start, your next step should be to conduct research and start making a business plan. It is important to identify your strengths and weaknesses. If you want to run a small business, you may have unique skills or experiences that can be used. Write down the key areas of your business such as what you are expecting to deliver in your business, how to fund it, and how to get customers.

Here are some tips you can consider when planning your business:

  • Conduct market research—Market research is crucial when identifying new opportunities, understanding the problems experienced by customers of various businesses (customer pain points). Learn and understand how competitors are performing by conducting a competitor analysis. Thorough research helps you gain a competitive advantage against key players in the industry and helps address your target customers’ needs more effectively.
  • Solve a problem—Find a solution to a problem you faced. By doing so, you can understand the nature of your problem, the ideal outcome for you and the best way to solve it. Using this insight, identify how many people are affected by this problem. If there are enough people affected by the same problem, you can build a sustainable business with a solid customer base. By solving a specific problem, you can also develop it as an expertise and add value to your customers. 
  • Cash in on your passion—Focus on a hobby you are passionate about and see if it is possible for you to implement it as a business idea. Using something you love to do—to start a business—is one of the best ways to achieve both profitability and happiness in life. 

Generating a name for your business

Coming up with a suitable and a catchy name for your business which aligns with your business could be time consuming.

Here are some tips for coming up with the ideal name for your business:

  • Name of the business should be directly relevant to your business goals, products or services. If it doesn’t resonate with your products or services, the name may not be suitable for your company or business.
  • Brainstorm multiple business names and pick the best choice. 
  • Perform a trademark search to avoid troublesome situations when registering your business.
  • Consider registering your logo and trademark to protect your brand.

Funding your business  

Starting a business would require a substantial amount of investment. This amount you have to invest as capital varies depending on the type of the business. 

Here are some funding options you can choose from:

  • Bootstrapping—You can use a small amount of your own money to invest in your business. Before deciding to apply for a loan, see whether you can use your personal finances. While this option may not be ideal for a large scale business, using your own money to have a headstart on your business would grant you a sense of freedom.
  • Bank Loan—If you wish to apply for a business loan, you need to have a registered, operating business for at least 6 months. However, if you are currently employed, you can apply for a personal loan and use it for your business.
  • Borrowing funds from the family—If you are not in a position to use your own funds or apply for a bank loan, you could borrow money from people you trust the most, such as your family and close friends.
  • Crowdfunding—This means a large number of individuals help finance a new business venture. Crowdfunding websites bring investors and entrepreneurs to create an opportunity for entrepreneurs and it also builds a large network of people. CrowdIsland, Online Fundraising Pages for Sri Lanka and Tribefunds.lk are some of the main crowdfunding sites in Sri Lanka you can refer to.

Register your business

Once your new business starts becoming a hit or growing, you may want to figure out how to register your business. There are different methods you can use to register your business in Sri Lanka.

These are the most common types of business registration:

  • Sole Proprietorship—Owned by one person, a sole proprietorship business is common in Sri Lanka. Typically, a self-owned business is often registered with any business name, provided it is legal. You can find more information about the proprietorship business by reading our blog article on sole-proprietorship
  • Partnership—As a legally accepted form of business, a partnership is a union of parties either on the basis of financial resources or a combination of skills, with its members working towards a common goal or profit  by sharing responsibilities and knowledge. To find out more, please read our blog article on partnership agreement.
  • Private Limited—If you wish to start a business on your own or with two or more people, you can consider registering your business as a private limited. This method of registration is quite common in Sri Lanka. However, the process can be complicated when compared to registering a sole proprietorship. For more information on this, please read our dedicated blog article on Private Limited registration.

Useful reading: How to choose the right company secretary for your private limited company

If you prefer to handle your registration in the comfort of your home, the government has introduced eROC where you could get started on the initial steps of your partnership registration procedure without the hassle of visiting government offices. Refer to our step-by-step guide to registering your business online for more information.

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Build your website 

While having your own website is not essential to run a business, it gives you various opportunities such as allowing your customers to contact you directly, making buying and selling more easy, expanding your business further, and many more. As more and more customers are making purchasing decisions online, it would add considerable value to your business in attracting customers.

Here are some tips to building a great website:

  • Plan your website’s structure and content—Once you have identified your target audience you should be able to decide on the style and messaging of your website. Your content should be consistent and easy to understand. Your website content and structure should clearly communicate the products or services that you will be selling, so that customers will not get confused.
  • Register a domain name and purchase a secured website host—Your website address or your domain name is as important as your company name, since this is how customers will search for you on Google. Combining this with a secured web hosting platform will ensure your website is protected from any cyber security risks or downtime.
  • Set up your website for Search Engine Optimization—Ensure your website is SEO friendly so that your website could rank higher in search results and people would find your website easily. 

Use Digital Marketing

We are living in the digital age. As marketing has already started going digital, utilizing various aspects of digital marketing will certainly enhance your business and make it more efficient.

Here are some aspects of digital marketing you can focus on:

  • Social media marketing—You can create accounts for your business on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram to create awareness about your products and services. If you have a website, you can even use your social media channels to drive traffic.
  • Email marketing—Once you have a steady customer base, you can start gathering their contact information to provide email updates and encourage existing customers to purchase your new products or services. One way you can obtain email addresses is exchange discounts or coupons in return for email addresses. 
  • Running sponsored ads—By spending a small amount of money, you can increase the reach of your business on social media channels or on Google search. You can choose who sees the ads and target the right people for your business.
  • Content creation—Create attractive content related to your business and products, and post them on your social media channels or website. You can use graphic design websites such as Canva, PicMonkey and Crello to create content for your business. If you want to find free images, you can use websites like Freepik, Shutterstock, Unsplash, or Pexels.

For more in-depth information on digital marketing, you can read Hubspot’s detailed guide to digital marketing

Next Steps

Starting your own business in Sri Lanka would be a decision you would not regret. Having a clear plan and executing it properly will be rewarding for you in the long run.

If you are looking to start a new business and need help with any aspect of company registration, feel free to contact us at any time.

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