When starting a new business, you’ll inevitably feel a combination of nerves and excitement. You’ve finally started your own business, but with this comes the scary realism that every decision sits on your shoulders.
When you start out, you’ll be sure to hear a lot of different advice; some of which is useful, some you should disregard. But, unfortunately, most of this will come from people who don’t know the first thing about running a successful company (especially in your chosen field).
Turning to the internet can also feel overwhelming, as you’ll be met with pages of articles, blogs, and lists on the subject. Try not to overthink it, though.
A few simple actions you take now can start your business down the path toward success. Throughout this article, we outline the most pivotal, decisive steps you can take.
Which type of business best suits you?
First, you must consider what type of business structure you will adopt. Deciding the correct kind of business takes research and careful assessment, but the below can provide you with a simple summary of each:
- Sole trader: This is a business that one person owns. The owner has complete control over the company and all its assets. The business’s finances are usually less complicated.. The downside, however, is a sole trader is responsible for any liabilities against the business. If money is owed, debtors can demand payment from your personal finances, including your savings, home, or other assets.
- Partnership: This is an arrangement in which two or more people agree to set up the business. The partners share the business venture’s responsibilities, risks, and rewards. A partnership can be formed for any business activity, although most partnerships are formed to conduct a specific type of enterprise, for example a farming partnership, or a plumbing business. The partners in a business venture must agree on the nature and extent of their respective roles in the enterprise. They must also agree on how the profits (or losses) will be shared.
- Limited company: A widespread type of business, a limited company is seen as an entity of its own. As such, in many cases, the liabilities lie with the company, not with the Directors. For example, if the business was to go into liquidation, the Directors’ personal assets could not be claimed by any debtors. The finances of a limited company are slightly more complicated, however, as all payments must be made to the company account. Salaries and dividends are then paid to the business’s employees, including the Directors.
- Other business types exist: Such as Corporation (C Corp), (S Corp), (B Corp), and non-profit Corporation. These types of businesses are less common for a first venture and are set up under specific requirements. If you feel you need one of these types of business, we recommend you contact one of our team to discuss your options.
Give yourself the best chance of success
Like most actions in life, setting up a business involves an element of risk. It’s simply unavoidable. However, minimising the risk to yourself isn’t. To help, we have compiled our experience and knowledge into the tips guide in this article.
Establish a gap in the market
- Understanding what is your unique selling point or USP is? Fundamentally, why should people come to you over a competitor?
- What makes you stand out from the crowd, especially if the market is already saturated?
- Which gap are you trying to fill, and why? Be clear and specific when answering such questions.
Remember, good service isn’t a USP – every customer expects good service. Likewise, your people aren’t your USP either – everybody has unique people. The experience your people have might be a USP, however.
Know your customer
Take time to understand your ideal customer. Most businesses start broad thinking about the people they could work with when they should go narrow. By being generic, you appeal to no one. Conversely, being specific makes you highly desirable to an engaged group of people.
However, if that doesn’t convince you, consider how many potential customers there are. Depending on your industry, it will range from thousands to millions. Even the smallest estimation would be too many for you to talk to in 10 years! By going niche, you focus on the most relevant, easiest to convert, easiest to work with, most profitable, most engaged customers.
In this example, going niche is simply being efficient with your time.
Be realistic on starting costs
It’s easy to ignore small costs, but they add up, and before you know it, it feels like death by 1000 cuts. So, break out the spreadsheet and detail every monthly and annual cost you’ll incur. Here are some common ones to think about.
- Business insurance
- Website design & build
- Annual website hosting
- Purchasing your domain name and renewing it each year
- IT costs such as email hosting, anti-virus, laptops, printers, etc.
- Branding & logo design
- Marketing (digital, print, networking, anything that gets you in front of prospective customers)
- Accounting software for invoicing, bookkeeping, PAYE, and recording expenses
- Business premises rent (if you work at home, don’t forget to consider the equipment you might need, such as a desk, chair, stationery, etc.)
- Tax (easy to forget, but you should factor this in early and put away for it each month)
- Registering your business and submitting annual documentation such as your confirmation statement
- Pension contributions
- Software costs such as Office 365 and industry-relevant programmes you might need
- Material costs of your products or services
- Logistical costs to get your products or service to your customer
Go out and network
Be your own momentum. Be your own biggest cheerleader. Showcase the passion that you have for your business. Several events, trade shows, and networking groups help connect you with other professionals in your field. These links can lead to future business prospects, mentors, and strategic partners with the opportunity to help grow your business.
The actual value of networking isn’t about selling to the people you meet, however. Instead, it’s convincing those people to sell your product to everyone they know. So think about the people who most often come in contact with your ideal customers and get them to introduce you.
Surround yourself with the right people
Focus on the culture you want to foster and surround yourself with like-minded people, from mentors and partners to team members and co-directors.
People who share your vision will dramatically accelerate its growth and success. They’ll be just as keen to see the business succeed, and the feeling of being ‘part of something’ will foster far greater loyalty.
With this in mind, don’t be afraid to celebrate your culture when employing new people. There are no wrong company cultures, only the wrong people for a culture.
Protect yourself and your business
Consider what intellectual property you have, such as trademarks, patents, and design rights. This might not be a priority, but it needs to be carefully considered and protected.
Stay ahead of the curve
Get used to being future-focused, especially within your niche – always be open to inventing, improving, and re-creating! Don’t let your idea become stale and stagnant. Instead, stay on top of research and constantly learn. Embrace change and change with it.
Find a healthy work-life balance
Running a business can take up all your time and energy. Even though it can be a challenge to do so, you’ve got to find a healthy work-life balance or risk hurting your relationships and suffering burnout.
Dedicate time to reconnect with friends and family. You might still spend less time with them than you used to but focus on uninterrupted, high-quality time where they have your undivided attention.
You’ve also got to take care of yourself. Your business can’t run without you, and burnout will limit how effective you are. Don’t forget your previous hobbies and things you used to enjoy doing.
In whatever form it comes in. Whether it be friends, family, government schemes, free business advice, take it all. Experience, advice, and knowledge from those who know are all invaluable to a new start-up. People learn from experience and then enjoy passing this on to others. Lap it all up!
Useful websites and resources
- Our team! We’d love to help you get set for success. Pick up the phone and have a chat – no questions are off-limits!
- Government advice – starting a business is an additional, helpful tool for those who wish to embark on such a journey.
- https://enterprising-you.co.uk/ – targeted support in the form of a 1:1 business coach, personal finance specialist, health and wellbeing support, training, and personal development – accept help in as many forms as possible!
- The business support helpline, managed by the Business Growth Hub, is another fantastic tool that will help shape and support your ideas, especially when venturing into the scary world of running a business!
If you are considering a new business venture, regardless of the stage you may be at, please feel free to give us a call on 01772 204102. We would be happy to help you with any advice about starting your business.
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