All businesses start with an idea. But you’ll need more than an idea to make your business dream a reality. Planning, skills, resources, time – and a little luck – are all important.
This list will guide you through the early stages of your business. Use it as a roadmap for building and running your new business.
Make up your mind
Starting a business needs your 200% commitment and time. Half-hearted approach will not take you anywhere. Therefore first step is make up your mind and be determined. Be prepared and be committed.
Define your business Idea
Your business idea is in your head. Write it down, draw it up or list it down. Read it again and again and make sure you have a good business idea before you start.
Save up or look for funding
Starting up a business can take time. You need to ensure you have saved up enough or have a source of funding for peace of mind for your personal expenditure. You don’t want to be pressured financially during this time.
Define your unique selling point
You need a unique selling point (USP). It’s important that you define what makes your business different to the competition. Try to sum it up in two sentences – and memorise it. You’ll use it every time you pitch to investors and potential customers
Find a business mentor/Accountant
Whether it’s a business adviser or a financial guru, find someone who will give you honest feedback about your business. Contact Small Business Associations or Small Business Development Centers. You will need a professional to set up your business and give you tax advice. An accountant specialized in to small business is a good start at this point. Find someone who is not just a number cruncher but can provide you with a more advisory role.
Create a business plan
When you create a business plan, you’ll need to summarize your business as it is now, and map your vision for how it will be in the future. This is a time consuming project. Some thing people dread doing. But believe me its a useful tool and will continue to be helpful in all aspects going forward.
Register the name web domains and trademarks
Your accountant will be able to advise you on which business type suites you best. If you will trade as a Sole trader, Limited company. Select a name that best fits you. You’ll need a website, so check for suitable domain names and register them. Think about trademarks too – talk to your lawyer about this.
Set up your business structure
Choose a legal structure that works best for you. An accountant can help you here. Ensure that your business will eventually be profitable. Can you make a profit from your business? Use accounting software to run profit and loss forecasts. Ask an accountant or financial advisor for their opinion.
Set up a business bank account
Don’t use your personal account, even if you’re just starting out. It’s always wise to keep your business finances separate. A credit card and PayPal account could be useful too. banks offer range of products and account types. Look for free deals and if not don’t be shy to ask for free stuff.
Arrange business insurance
Even the smallest companies need insurance. Talk to a broker to find the best package for you.
Register for taxes
You’ll need to register with HMRC for Corporation Tax or Self-Assessment. And if you’re employing staff you’ll need to register for PAYE. Then think about other taxes such as VAT, CIS
List the items that can be tax deductible expenses
Office rent, equipment costs, internet costs – all of these may be offset against tax so make sure you talk to your accountant.
Create your website
Use the website domain name you’ve already registered if possible. Services like Squarespace, WordPress, Moonfruit and Onepager will get you online quickly. You can always refresh and improve your site at a later date.
Create social network accounts
Different businesses have different social media needs. You might need a Facebook page and a LinkedIn profile – or you may only need a Twitter account, Google+, Instagram. Do some research on competitors or ask your mentor to see what will work for your business. Look at companies that you aspire to be like for inspiration. Remember that it’s not important to be everywhere. Opening an account with a social network and not maintaining it can be bad for the company’s image.
Ask people to promote you online
Contact members of your social networks. Tell them about your new business and ask them to share the link to your website with the people in their networks.
Find the right employees
Hiring the right employees is important. While you may only be able to hire one or two employees to start with, it’s still vital that you hire well and choose the right ones.
Think about how you’ll use technology
Nearly all companies use technology. Think about whether you need laptops, tablets, smartphones – or all of these. Talk to local IT firms if you’re not sure. Think about flexibility at this point. If you are going to be the only employee to start with then you will need to use technology for your advantage. Be able to work from home. IP phones provide great flexibility.
Choose your business applications
Software is getting more powerful and intuitive. If possible, choose online applications for your work. These include Google Docs and Microsoft Office 365. That way you can access your valuable data online from anywhere at any time.
Keep your data safe
Companies that lose data also lose business. Use cloud-based software for peace of mind.
Keep challenging yourself
Successful entrepreneurs keep going when other people would give up. That inner drive is what defines a successful business owner. Your attitude will help determine whether your business succeeds or fails. So keep going and the hard work will pay off.
The steps in this starting a business checklist are all important. But they don’t guarantee success. Only you can do that, with hard work, intelligent decisions and great employees. Stay nimble, be prepared for challenges – and go for it!
All the best…..