Monday, March 14, 2016
If you have a great idea for a new business but are not sure how or where to start, our 10 tips can help point you in the right direction.
Many of us like the idea of being our own boss and, with almost five million people working for themselves, the level of self-employment in Britain is higher than ever before.
However, running a company is not always plain sailing and setting up in business can be a daunting prospect. We’ve put together some key steps you can follow to help make your business a success.
All businesses have to start with an idea. If you’re reading this blog it’s likely that you already have an idea for a new product or service in mind - try looking on the National Enterprise Network for support to help you further develop or refine your idea. And if you’ve come up with something original, make sure you protect it by applying for a patent or trademark.
Do your research
Before starting up your business, it’s important to carry out some market research. Speak with potential customers to ascertain if there is a market for your product or service. Any feedback (positive or negative) received at this stage can be used to further refine and improve your idea before launching.
Have a business plan
Having a comprehensive and well-thought out business plan in place is essential for any new company. As well as helping you to map out the route you want your business to take, it will also be required by any investors. Generally speaking your plan should include goals and objectives, an analysis of the marketplace, a sales and marketing strategy, and financial information.
Select your structure
There a number of different options available to you when you’re registering your new business, and the structure you choose will affect things such as your tax responsibilities and how much profit you can take for yourself. There are three main types of business - sole trader, limited company and business partnership. As a new company, it’s likely that you will start as a sole trader and potentially grow into a limited company, but it’s worth consulting with HMRC to make sure you get it right.
It’s all in the name
The name of your business is a core part of your brand, so it’s important to come up with something that is consistent with your identity and values. Once you have a name in mind, check the Companies House website to ensure it’s still available - the last thing you want as a new business is to have to change all your branding because your name has already been taken.
Every business needs money to survive and grow, so think carefully about where your funding will come from. Does your business model enable you to operate on the savings you have and the cash you expect to have coming in, or will you need some external funding, from investors for example or via a bank loan? There may also be some government schemes you can access so it’s worth doing your homework.
Finding the right premises
When it comes to setting up your business, finding the right premises is key. This a really important step for your fledgling business, so it’s important to get it right. Think carefully about where you want to locate your business and the type of office space you want. You also need to decide on the type of commitment you want to make. For some businesses, leasing premises makes sense. However, if you’re in it for the long-haul, taking out a commercial mortgage and buying a property can be a wise investment. If you do decide to buy premises, make sure you future-proof your office space, giving yourself room to grow as your team and business expands.
Getting your finances in order
Before launching your business, make sure that your finances are in order. Set up a workable invoicing and accounting system so that you don’t find yourself overwhelmed a couple of months down the line. Make sure you are also aware of your tax obligations, as well as your obligations around pensions and National Insurance payments if you will be employing staff. Getting this wrong could lead to hefty fines.
If you’re not confident dealing with financial issues, it’s worth engaging the services of an accountant to provide professional advice and guidance.
Nowadays people expect to be able to find information on just about anything online - and your business will be no exception. Before launching, register a domain name and build a user-friendly, SEO-optimised website that makes it easy for people to learn more about your business. It’s also worth setting up some social media accounts so you can start engaging with potential customers.
Be wary of accountants and business start-up managers who offer these services – you will find that you get tied into contracts or risk losing control of your domain. Use a UK based domain registration service, such as Domainmonster.com, to register your own business domain.
Recruit the right team
Having the right people around you can be the difference between success and failure. If you plan on finding a business partner or recruiting a team, look for people who believe in your idea and share your vision for the company. It’s also a good idea to bring on board people who have particular skills or experience in areas where you may be weaker.
Starting a new business is never easy, but getting the basics right gives you a great platform to build on. This ‘back to basics’ approach, combined with a generous dollop of commitment, dedication and a desire to succeed, can take you and your business a long way.
Paul Welch is the CEO & Founder of Largemortgageloans.com, a London-based mortgage broker which specialises in mortgages over £500,000.
License: Image author owned
License: Image author owned