A few questions to ask yourself before you start a business –
What kind of business should I start?
What do I need to do before I start?
How can I raise finance?
How do I set it up?
What laws, regulations and practical issues are involved?
How do I find suppliers/wholesalers?
How do I recruit employees?
How do I start to sell my products/services?
So, you’ve made up your mind to take the plunge and start your own business – but you’re not sure where to begin. It can be a daunting process. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of help out there for startups…
So what business should I start?
There are a host of options available including those that fit in with the lifestyle you want, make extra cash to increase your household income or take the plunge and go full time
Current Popular sectors: Green businesses, Retail and Service ventures, Online businesses
Part-time: If you want to run a business that fits in with other commitments then a part time business could be for you
Franchising: Consider a Franchise and run your own business with the training and support of a big-name brand behind you
Buying a business: How much money have you got? Another option that can carry less risk than starting afresh but the cost could be substantial
Running a business from home: Modern technology means you don’t need an office. More and more businesses are now run entirely from home
Low cost businesses: You can start many businesses for just a few hundred or one or two thousand pounds
Tech start-ups: The UK’s tech industry is expanding rapidly and is a world leader in many areas. Now is a great time to start a tech business
What do I need to do before I start a business?
Choose your business structure: Are you going to be a sole trader, in a partnership or form a limited company? You need to decide what business structure you adopt early on
Market research: You will need to research your market to assess the viability of your business idea
Write a killer business plan: Writing a business plan is essential. – make sure you have a clear roadmap before starting out. This is very important as you may have to present this plan to potential investors including the bank!
Think about your branding: Very important! A great name, logo and business cards can make the difference between failure and success. If you can afford it go to an established marketing/design company. Don’t rely on ‘tea-time’ logos made up with the family!
Set up a website: Learn how to register a domain name and build a well-designed website for your business. Yes, you can cheap websites. The internet is full of people offering them. But it’s worth spending on getting a professionally designed and built site – and watch the spelling!! One bad spelling mistake can put people off your site and you won’t see them again
Think carefully about your finances: Learn about bookkeeping and cashflow issues. You may need an accountant/bookkeeper from the start and nit needn’t be expensive
How do I raise finance?
Look for potential grants: Small business grants can be very useful, but it can be a difficult and drawn out process
Ask for a bank loan: Bank lending to small business is declining, but most businesses end up approaching the bank at some point. worth a try!
Obtain funding from the government: The government operates various initiatives to help start-ups get off the ground. See whether the government’s new business bank can help as well as initiatives such as the Start-Up Loans scheme
Help from your friends and family? Many start with personal finance or the assistance of friends and family, but try not to put your house, or anyone else’s, on the line
Consider invoice financing: If you’re finding bank loans difficult to obtain look into invoice finance as an alternative funding option. Many businesses have grown quickly with this funding or Factoring
Seek investment: Angel investors not only provide funding but valuable mentoring, support and advice to early-stage businesses; however, be wary of giving away too much equity early on
Crowd Funding: Your idea will be popular with the masses? Then you might try peer-to-peer crowdfunding which is enjoying an explosion in popularity
How do I set up my business?
Understand the basics for setting up: Learn how to set up a company
Contact HMRC: If you’re setting up as self-employed you must contact the HMRC to tell them
Set up a bank account: You will need an account to make and receive payments
Equipment: What equipment will you need to start? Vans are necessary for many start-ups especially in the trade sectors. PCs, printers and smartphones are more or less essential
Consider a virtual office: If you plan to set up a home office, see if a virtual office will work for you
Premises: If you need premises, buying property is a huge step; unless you’re absolutely committed, leased premises or serviced offices are usually more suitable
Location, location, location: If you’re starting a retail business, location is crucial. Make sure you have done your homework before committing to a property
Laws, regulations and practical issues you should be aware of
Get insurance: You will need business/public liability insurance and be aware of the different insurances available
Intellectual property: If you have a technology or ideas-based business or even a simple company logo, make sure you protect them by familiarising yourself with intellectual property law
Tax law: Whether in business on your own or already have employees a knowledge of tax law is a must
Health and Safety: You will have obligations under health and safety regulations especially if you have employees
Source the best suppliers: You can find suppliers at trade fairs and exhibitions and on the internet – but before entering into any agreement, protect your business with a contract
Wholesaling: Learn what wholesaling is and whether it can benefit your business
Source from overseas?: Overseas suppliers are often cheaper but you will probably have to take greater care in choosing them
Recruiting a team
Your timing must be right: Don’t rush into it. Ask yourself some key questions before deciding whether the time is right to hire someone
Write a proper job description: Find out how to write the perfect job description to attract the best and brightest
Ask the right questions: Discover the best questions to ask during an interview – and the questions you should never ask! There’s plenty of advice out there
Consider all the employment options: See the different employment options for staff – is your business more suitable for permanent employees, part-timers or freelancers?
Employment law: Ignore employment law at your peril. You could find yourself involved with expensive and potentially ruinous legal proceedings
Training: Give new employees the tools for success with the right training program
How do I begin to sell my products?
Tell the world what they are: You need to know how to promote your product and who to target. Learn the key selling points for your product – it’s USP – Unique Selling Points
Getting your product into stores: It’s not easy to get your product into the major stores. You will probably have to start off small, perhaps selling online and/or to small outlets, then when you have the confidence, track record, testimonials give it a go!
Keep up-to-date on e-commerce: E-commerce and selling online are crucial and you should learn all you can about the ins and outs of internet sales
Discover the best selling techniques: Read up on how to sell and get in-depth advice on the techniques available
Shout out to the world: Learn how to raise awareness of your brand – social media is big help in this and to start with can be free of charge. It just takes your time!
Be inspired: Read up on success stories covering some of the UK’s brightest entrepreneurs to see how they overcame some of the early challenges they faced and grew into household names
Chat with other entrepreneurs: Connect with other business owners and seek support and advice through them – again social media is ideal for this. Don’t be afraid to ask and don’t be afraid of competitors. Sometimes it’s good to be in contact with them and share ideas, suppliers and even customers. Counter intuitive? – yes, but you’d be surprised how mutually beneficial this can be!
And don’t forget the rule of three: It’ll take three times as long; cost three times as much and you’ll make a third of the profits you first thought of….but don’t get disheartened… keep at it… and keep smilin’!
If it was easy everyone would be doing it……..