Starting a business? 7 things you need to do first
You’ve got a business idea but what are the next steps? Startups has compiled a launchpad guide to help you put the foundations in place for business success
So you’ve stumbled across a business idea that you’re sure will make you millions, but you have no idea how to turn that dream into a tangible reality.
Starting a business is like climbing a mountain; it may look daunting from the bottom, but focus on taking it one step at a time and you will soon reach your goal.
Follow the step-by-step list below to put all the foundations in place you need to start a successful business.
1. Market research
Make sure your business idea is actually viable, and refine it if necessary. This article on researching your market is a good starting point – ask yourself the tough questions before you begin to avoid pitfalls later on.
2. Examine the different business structures
Read up on the different legal business structures you can adopt and decide on the best option for your start-up. Not many new businesses will start life as a limited company; you will most likely need to register as a sole trader or find yourself a business partner.
3. Create a business plan
You wouldn’t build a house without a blueprint, so don’t start a business without a plan. A professional, well-thought out business plan will not only provide your start-up with a clear direction and contingencies in the case of unexpected events, but it can also be vital in securing investment.
For an overview, read up on the 12 common elements strong business plans share.
4. Choose a name for your business
Everyone knows the importance of choosing the right business name. An effective, memorable business name can be the difference between failure and success and should reflect the type of business you wish to be.
One of the mistakes to avoid at all costs is creating confusion with competitors, which can lead to lost sales and legal action. Avoid common branding mistakes by learning from some cautionary tales, and learn what to do if your chosen name is unavailable.
5. Design a logo
A logo is often the first thing prospective customers see, and is therefore crucial in making the right impression. If you’re new to starting a business, the options available can seem daunting but can be broken down into five main options – read up on all of them and decide which one is best for your business and budget.
6. Register a domain name and build a website
After you start out in business, customers will want to investigate more about you on the web, so make sure you get in early and register a domain name.
7. Get your finances in order
Get an accounting and cashflow system set up before you begin so you don’t find yourself buried in invoices and receipts a month in. If you plan to grow your business beyond the VAT threshold (currently £72,000) then it’s worth planning for it from day one. Especially for novices, taking on an accountant can pay off in the long run – learn some basic rules to ensure you keep costs as low as possible. As well as using an accountant to manage finances from the top down, it may also be worth looking to comparing merchant account services, small business POS systems, or small business CRM services to maximise profits and processes.