The first step on the startup path – even before you have your breakthrough business idea – is making the decision to start your own enterprise. You might not know what kind of business you’ll start yet or how you will operate – you just know you want to be your own boss.
If that describes the stage you are at, congratulations – you are right at the beginning of an exciting journey. The future might be uncertain but there are plenty of decisions you can make that have a direct effect on the fate of your business. And as you are just starting out, here are some basic tips and points to consider.
You don’t have to quit your job and take the risk of starting up a business without regular income to fall back on – you can start small, keeping your day job, working in your spare time and building up your business gradually. Although it won’t feel like a clean break and will require hard work and sacrifices, it’s a much less risky way to start your own business. Also, if you decide running a business is not for you after all, you won’t have the hassle of getting another job.
THE ONLINE OPTION
Starting your own business has never been easier. In many cases, you can save on costs by starting up online rather than opening a shop or renting premises. Even if your line of business means you need a physical presence, a website and strategic use of social media can be effective for promoting your business – and it’s relatively cheap, too.
RESEARCHING YOUR IDEA
Once you have your business idea, you should do your research and find out if it’s really viable. Build up a picture of your target customer and find out how you can serve their needs better than the competition. You could even perform your own market research by setting up a focus group – advertise for participants or recruit them via social media and get their thoughts and feedback on your potential offering.
It’s important to decide on the most appropriate structure for your business because it will affect the way you draw capital from it and pay tax. Options include forming a limited company, a partnership or working as a sole trader. An accountant will be able to advise you and help you decide.
Depending on how ambitious your plans are you might need to secure funding for your business. If so, look into all the options at your disposal. It’s worth investigating whether you’re eligible for any government funding schemes such as small business grants. You could also approach your bank for a business loan. Friends and family might be interested in making an investment in your business, or you could try pitching your idea to angel investors or using a crowdfunding website such as www.crowdfunder.co.uk.
KNOW YOUR LEGAL REQUIREMENTS
As a business owner, you need to make sure you’re up to speed on things like tax law, intellectual property and health and safety. Get professional advice if you need it. And Keep HM Revenue & Customs informed of any changes to your circumstances.
Research suppliers, manufacturers, wholesalers, logistics firms and accountants to make sure you’ll get quality service for the lowest possible cost. You need to think about the bottom line and maximise your profit as much as possible. Without cutting corners, you need to get the best deals you can – so do your homework and be prepared to negotiate.