5 Simple Steps to Starting Up in Business
Unless you fall really lucky with a totally unique idea that large corporations are already willing to invest thousands in, chances are, you’re starting from the ground up like most of us. Despite what some overconfident fools may think, starting-up requires some real thought, a lot of work and a half-decent checklist of progressive steps in order to attain the goal of issuing your first sales invoice.
Here is a checklist. It’s not entirely comprehensive and it’s not pretending to be the best in the world but it is a start. These are all points I wish someone would have ordered for me when I started out on my first business adventure:
- Business Planning
Let’s start with the obvious. You don’t jump down a mine-shaft without firstly preparing yourself for what lies ahead i.e. protective clothing, a torch, an instructor who knows where he/she is going…It’s the same in business. Many people who start up a business will never even produce a business plan. When you research ‘business plan,’ it seems quite daunting. It’s not. It’s a structured way of doing some research, writing about what you’ve learned, looking at your competitors i.e. people who have set up similar businesses and also, a good way to get down your ideas and plans for the future. It doesn’t have to be huge, it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to reflect your business. Research and planning is also part of finding your place within the market, looking at how you can fit in and what you can do differently to others in order to be better than they are (making more sales).
- Marketing Plan
Similar in some ways to your business plan, the marketing plan is just as vital for modern companies. We are in an age where social media has propelled some businesses into orbit and caused others to be a drifter upon the tide. You could either speak to a marketing professional about planning your marketing strategy or you could watch videos on YouTube or do a spot of Googling; however you choose to look into writing a marketing plan, the basic idea behind them is: It shows how you are going to raise awareness of your business, what steps you’re going to take to communicate with your audience and how you want to sell your product or services. Here are some points to think about:
- Market research – looking at what your competitors are doing to attract attention.
- Branding – how you want your company to look i.e. logo, tagline, colour scheme etc.
- Social Media – what platforms will you use? Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+?
- Directory listings – where will you list your business for maximum impact?
- Advertising – how will you get people to find out about your business? What will you pay?
Have an idea in mind for what you need to spend. Some of this, you’ll need to cover in your business plan as part of your cash-flow forecast (usually more necessary when you’re looking for a business loan, grant or other investment). Everything costs so the more you can learn to do yourself, if you have the time, the better. Here are some costs that are in most business budget plans:
- Starting up the company on Companies House.
- Buying or financing your equipment i.e. machines, computers, cars etc.
- Website design and brand identity – making everything look professional and fit nicely together. Foster & Scott is who I always advise for clients for straight-talking, honest and high-quality design and branding.
- Printing costs of flyers, leaflets, anything your company needs.
- Advertising costs to get those initial sales coming in.
- Telephone and internet set up.
- Rates, water, light, heat, rent and other premises costs.
- Staff costs if you’re planning employees already.
- Bookkeeping (cloud-based or traditional methods) and accountancy costs – I always advise Hill & Co Accountants in Sheffield (obviously).
- Save your names!
Something I always tell people to do. Whether you’re going for a website straight away or not, buy the domain name for your website for the future i.e. www. yourbusiness .com. Some companies make money by buying the domains once a company is registered and selling them back to you for a lot more money. A cost that you just don’t need. Where else to save your name:
- Anywhere else you’re looking at promoting your services on.
- Register and Go!
Ok, there may be a few more steps for some new start-ups such as securing investment in the company, getting the premises organised and looking for staff but at this stage, it’s good to get things moving and actually register your company with trading name and address on Companies House. Right from the off, get your accounts in order. Keep ledgers for your sales and purchases (records of who you owe and who owes you). If you haven’t already, invest in some quality bookkeeping software such as Kashflow or Xero, both inexpensive for what they offer.
Once you’ve checked off these five steps, it’s all work, work, work. Don’t overlook the importance of words or marketing – tips you can find in the other blogs. If you’d like more information or would like help with your marketing, accounts, bookkeeping or writing, get in touch HERE.