Sole trader or limited company?
Which you choose will impact both on your tax and how much legal / financial responsibility you have. As a sole trader you take all the post-tax profits but you are also liable for all of your business financial dealings. Setting up a limited company is more costly and requires more administration than registering as a sole trader, but in the long term, it’s less of a risk.
Size up the competition
Who else is doing what you’re planning to do? How well do they do it? By studying the competition you can learn from other’s mistakes – or even what their customers appreciate. Learn how you could enhance the current offerings and what deals people are most likely to go for.
How you’ll get your name out there
If you’ve got an amazing business idea, people need to know about it. If you don’t have a big marketing budget, start small and focus on building relationships. Use social media and network hard to start getting your name out there. Start a blog; be active on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram – the more the better. Get people to try and review your product / service, positive feedback is always a great thing.
Your web presence
Even if you don’t want to sell online, a simple brochure site showcasing what you do goes a long way. Your customers will expect you to have a website as it provides social proof and 81% of consumers perform online research before making a purchase, with a website you will show up in Google research results.
Write a business plan
Don’t view business plans as a chore. Use it as a chance to prove to yourself (and everyone else) that every aspect of your business plan & model works and makes sense.
Route to market
How will you sell to your customers? Consider all your options, from eBay to mail order. What you choose will impact your business, financially and reputably. Figure out which option would be best for your business, and then take the right track to get there. Check out our order processing and fulfilment service here.
Skill gaps, experience and training
Just because you’ve eaten in a lot of restaurants, doesn’t mean you know how to run one. Even if you’ve got a killer business idea, make sure you have the experience and skills to execute it. If not, look into training, or even partner up with someone who has the experience you might lack in.
You are required by law to have employer’s liability insurance & public liability insurance. If you sell products, you may also need product liability insurance. It can be expensive, but it’s worth it if the unthinkable happens. Shop around for the best deal and ask your bank for any deals that might come as part of your account.
Find an accountant
An accountant is a valuable source of financial and business advice. They can help you steer your company away from danger and advise you when and where to save your money. Seek an accountant with experience in your sector who will see you as an important client.
Your business name
Think long and hard about your business name; re brands are expensive and painful. It’ll need to work with an available web domain and will also be the first thing prospective customers see. Consider what you want your name to say about your business; will it simply be a case of ‘does what it says on the tin’ e.g. Manchester Scaffolding Ltd or do you want it to communicate aspects of brand identity such as ‘Innocent Drinks’.