Everyone needs a little push to get a start-up business rolling in the right direction. So we’ve prepared an indispensable guide that no fledgling entrepreneur should be without. Prepare yourself for many trials, triumphs and late night pizza deliveries.
Before diving in
Learn the basics of setting up a new company, including selecting a business structure such as a partnership, sole-trader or limited company. Make sure that you develop a clear road map early on with a comprehensive business plan. And before you do anything else, you thoroughly research the market, the competition, your customer base and price point, to assess the viability of the idea.
You may have money saved up that will fund your start-up. But if not there’re many ways to finance your venture. Bank lending to small businesses has been in decline, but don’t rule this option out completely. It’s worth approaching your bank and talking through your business plan to see if it has legs. And investigate other funding options too. There’re a broad range of initiatives to help start-ups, from loans to grants. Your local authority may have details of schemes in your area. And look out too, for entrepreneur awards and support schemes from organisations such as Start Up Britain, Shell LiveWire, Smarta, Nesta and Virgin. And if you’re under 30, check out the Government backed Start Up Loans scheme. Another possibility is crowd funding. This is where you source funding from interested investors, in return for a share in your business.
Protecting your business
The legal and risk management aspects of your business may seem boring, especially when you’ve got more exciting things to think about, but the success of your business will depend on how prepared you are for all eventualities.
Find out about protecting intellectual property with patents and copyright. Likewise, consult a competent accountant who is well-versed in tax for small business. Finally, for peace of mind, consider business insurance. You buy can buy business insurance to cover you whether you’re based at home or in a client’s office or a bit of both. It makes sense to cover your equipment too. Even if you’re using your personal computer and phone, it might not be covered by your home insurance if you use it for business too. Remember to think about your stock, and your staff and customers. If somebody has an accident on your premises, then you might end up seriously out of pocket if they bring a claim against you and you’re found to be negligent.
High quality collateral such as a business name, stationary, a logo and business cards will help your brand to stand out and differentiate you from your competitors. Register a domain, then build a slick website that’s easy to use and shows off your product or services in an accessible and eye-catching way.
Once you’ve laid the basic foundations then you can begin creating more buzz about your product or service. Brush up on sales techniques and keep up to date about changes in the online marketing and e-commerce world if you intend to sell your wares or services online. Explore social media and start connecting with experts in your field as well as your potential customers.
If you’re selling a product, it’s vital to have reliable and reasonably priced suppliers. Source these from trade fairs and exhibitions. Or go further afield and look to foreign markets for great deals on imported goods. Before entering into any contract, make sure that you protect your business with a supply contract.
Setting up a business is a bit like working your way through a maze. But once you start to get the building blocks of your idea in place, and you protect your business, your staff and customers, then you’re well on the way to success.