S.O.S: Business Start-up Guide

Congratulations! If you are reading this then quite likely you have decided to take the plunge and set-up your own business. Your head is probably spinning on something comparable to a bad hangover and is about to explode due to information overload.

I’ve tried to create a logical list of some of the major things you should think about during the early stages of planning to set up a new business. It assumes that you already have a business idea in mind.

  1. Qualifications

One of the first things you need to figure out is if you need to have a qualification. This could be a legal requirement as in bookkeeping for example, if you wish to work self-employed. Do you need to register with an institute? As a bookkeeper, I am registered with the ICB, which legally I am required to be regulated for money laundering and they do that. However, depending on your sector, they offer training, networking, CPD, online forums, discounts for insurance and many other benefits such as mentoring, which can be very valuable to small inexperienced businesses.

2. You need to decide on the legal structure for your business. The most common structures are as follows:

  • Sole-trader

  • Partnership

  • Limited Liability Partnership

  • Limited Company

  • Not-for profit

The simplest option is operating as a sole trader. Contrary to popular belief, being a sole trader does not mean you cannot employ staff, it just means that you are the company and legally if you were to be sued for some reason, your personal assets would be at risk. Depending on the type of company, sometimes people opt to open a limited company, which is much more complex to do but their personal assets are protected and only company assets would be liable if legally there were any issues.

3. You need a business plan.

This is imperative, a business part is a crucial tool for managing and growing your company. It is very important to draw what type of business you are creating, what it intends to be in the future and what steps you need to take to achieve its goals.

4. Market research

Who are your target customers?

Is there a need for your services or products?

How will you target them? Where are they?

Who are your competitors?

How are you different from your competitors?

5. Branding

This can take an eternity but the truth is it needs

to be correct. Your logo, company name and website need to attract and target your market. It is really important to have them in place and to have the right ones.

6. Premises

There has been a huge switch in recent times from corporate offices to home offices. The truth is that when you are starting up, you need to keep your overheads as low as possible, you will probably have a strict budget. Depending on the kind of business you are starting, if you can operate out of your home, especially in the early days then do so. There’s nothing worse than having to pay rent and business rates and not even having established your first client yet.

If you are going to have commercial premises, make sure that they have the correct license, for example class 3 for hot food and drink, or class 2 for retail. Councils are always aware of new businesses and if your premises are not licenced then you cannot operate legally.

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