A simples guide

Ten Steps for starting your own business

If you’ve taken the decision to start your own business – good for you. But knowing what to do next can be daunting – where do you start and are you really ready to give up that juicy office gossip? We can’t offer any water cooler tittle tattle but can help, just follow our ten key steps to starting your own start up and you’ll be on your way.

1. Your idea

Perhaps the most daunting prospect of all is the blank piece of paper in front of you as you think about what you’re going to do. If you’ve had a brainwave make sure you protect it, the last thing you want it to find out is that someone else has pipped you at the post. Find out more about how you can protect your intellectual property at Gov.UK, intellectual property, an overview.

2. Choose a name

Perhaps the most fun bit – what are you going to call your business? Think about this one, because it’ll be on letterheads and business cards forevermore so make sure it doesn’t have initials that spell something silly or rude and make sure that no one else has taken it – you can do this by looking at Companies House which is where you’ll also need to register your business name if you’re anything other than a sole trader. You should also check to see if the domain name is available too, because you’re probably going to want to set up a website at some stage (more on that later).

3. Research

Think about your market – is it growing, changing, how much longevity’s in it, what competition is there and how will you stand out? Also think about who your customers are and if you can, talk to them – find out exactly what they want or what they’d like improved – are you able to design a prototype if you’re selling something?

4. Business plan

This will help fill the gaps in your initial idea as well as give you a working plan of action, it’s also something you can show to potential investors. So sharpen your pencil and get your thinking cap on:

  • List out what your short and long term goals are – for your business and your finances, you could split this out by year to help you focus.
  • Look at what you’re offering and think about any expenses or overheads you’ll have, this can then help you work out what profit you need to make and in turn decide what you’ll charge.
  • Include your research about your target market – focus on growth areas (or areas of decline so you know what to avoid). Are you looking at repeat purchasers or one off sales, in which case how will you engage new customers?
  • Where will you be based – from home or premises? If you’re running a business from home (depending on what you’ll be doing) you might need to inform your mortgage provider or council. Check to see whether you’ll need to pay business rates or whether you’re eligible for any tax allowances.
  • How will you market your ideas and get your product or idea out there?
  • Finances – how will you fund your business and if you’re looking at a loan, how will you pay it back?

5. Legal structure

Decide what legal structure will suit your business, there are three main types:

  • sole trader, where you’re solely responsible for your business and keep all your profits after tax.
  • limited company, an organisation where the finances are separate to your own.
  • business partnership, where you and a business partner personally share responsibility for your business.

6. Finances

You’ll need to decide how you’re going fund your business idea. Find out if you can get a government loan with their loan finder or you might ask the bank for a loan (in which case your business plan will be vitally important). And because we’re in the 21st century, why not try some modern techniques like crowd funding? Of course, you can always try tapping up family and friends. Don’t forget to set up a business bank account too – it’s not a legal requirement but separating work money from fun money is good practice.

7. Register your business

You’ll need to register your business with HMRC, and you should check whether you need any special licences or permits for your business before you start trading.

8. Your website

Most modern businesses are expected to have a website, it doesn’t have to cost much to set up – just the price of your domain name (which you’ve hopefully bought already) and a servicing fee. There are plenty of free template based web services who will host your site and give you advice on how to set up and design it. Always get someone to proofread your finished website though – nothing says ‘unprofessional’ louder than bad spelling and poor grammar.

9. Suppliers, partners and premises

If you rely on external suppliers for materials, think about who’s out there, how much they charge and make arrangements to contact them to see if you’ll be comfortable doing business with them. Also think about bringing a partner on board, perhaps you know someone you’d work well with who’s great at finances or IT or can handle the admin side of things. Lastly, if you’ve decided to work from premises, you’ll need to look for one and organise renting or buying.

10. Business insurance

This is where we can help! If you’re employing other people, you’ll need employer’s liability insurance by law. This will cover you if an employee becomes ill or is injured through work. If you don’t have employer’s liability insurance you could be fined up to £2,500 per day. There are a few exceptions such as if your employees are family members.

It’s also worth thinking about public liability insurance, this will protect you if members of the public make a claim for an incident that happens on your premises or at events organised by your company. Whilst it’s not a legal requirement, if you deal with the public in any way whatsoever, it’s probably a good idea to have it.

Understanding the ins and outs of business insurance can be tricky – but finding it doesn’t have to be. Just tell us what you need – we make comparing our business so you can get on with running yours. Start a comparison today and just see how much you could save!

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