The 6 things to find when starting a business

Business journalist and former Startups.co.uk colleague Jon Card on finally making the leap of setting up a company with wife Corinne

I’ve been writing about business and enterprise for over a decade, telling the world how easy it is.

So, after a few years as a freelancer, I decided it was time to create my own Limited company. As it turns out, it was fairly easy, although I learnt a few things along the way.

Step one: Find a business partner

This wasn’t too difficult for me, as I was as I was already married to her. Corinne had spent the last 10 years working as head of content for a digital marketing agency. So, combined with my work as a journalist, we thought we would make a good team.

However, that’s not to say we didn’t spend a long time discussing the business before deciding to actually do it. We discussed a whole range of different things: project ideas, division of roles and, of course, what we should call the business.

Step two: Find a name

Eventually, we decided to call the company Full Story Media. We take ownership of our work and deliver a complete package – the ‘full story’.

Step three: Find a SIC code and register at Companies House

We searched Companies House and performed Google searches to ascertain that the name and URLs were available. Registering at Companies House is fairly straightforward. You need to find SIC (Standard Industrial Classification) codes which define your business from a list on the site.

There are over 600 of these, so it takes a little while to trawl through. You need to think about the different ways your business will be making money. Once we had filled in the forms, we were approved in less than 48 hours.

Step four: Banking

One of the things that does take a while is getting a business bank account. We researched the price comparison sites and eventually opted to go with HSBC as it provided free banking for 18 months.

The online forms were easy enough, but then there was a six day wait before anything happened. Eventually, I gave the bank a call and, that very minute, the application was approved. So, technically, we were up and running, although it took another week or so before online banking was set up.

Step five: Find the right software

Meanwhile, Corinne was setting up the website, buying the URL and working with WordPress to get a website launched.

Corinne went through a company called names.co.uk (a domain name registrar) to get the site live and secure. The total cost of buying a domain name, getting the site live and getting it secure was pretty reasonable at just under £100.

We decided to work up an initial logo idea ourselves, using one of the free logo making tools available online. We also used one of the many free WordPress templates to save money initially and build our own site from scratch.

One area we splashed out was with a professional photoshoot at £300. We put our money where our mouth is here, as this is something we always recommend that businesses do as soon as possible.

High quality photos can be used in so many places: on the website, when reaching out to press, for events, business cards, pitch slides and your Google My Business page, for starters, giving a great first impression for years with just that one initial outlay.

We decided to set up most of the business’ operations in the cloud, using applications such as file sharing platform Dropbox and the accountancy software Xero.

Step six: Find work

My advice to any entrepreneur is start promoting and working as soon as you can. The five steps above don’t take long. The UK is an easy place to start up. All we have to do now is actually make some money.