Is 2018 the year you’ll take the plunge and start your own business?
There’s never been a better time to get started on your idea – and we’re here to help.
Starting a business is easier than you think, and we have advisers on hand to provide free information, advice and guidance.
Five steps to starting your business
Typically, setting-up a business starts with answering these five questions:
- What’s your idea?
- What will your company structure be?
- What’s my business plan?
- What do you need to do start?
- How will you find customers?
Assuming you know what your idea is, you then have to decide how you will legally structure your company. This can be dependent on a number of factors, but firstly, normally how many people there are involved – is it just you, or a handful of equal partners? This will help you decide on whether you will start as a sole trader, limited company or partnership.
After answering these first questions, you’ll have prepared your first basic business plan.
Then comes the most important part of any business planning – how will you find customers?
It may seem obvious, but many start-up businesses get so engrossed in the process of setting-up and becoming a ‘real business’ that sometimes the obvious need to find that first customer slips down in priority.
Once you’ve found your first customer, or have a solid idea of where you will find them, there are some other things to think about.
Whilst it’s important in any business to make money, that first customer is so much more than just your first source of income. They are a marketing opportunity too. They can be the basis of a case study illustrating what you do and a very useful way to attract other clients. Successes with early clients can be particularly helpful by generating word-of-mouth referrals, which are probably the most effective means of marketing for small businesses. That first customer will also help you to refine your offer, clarify your costs and improve your business plan.
Many businesses start in a particular direction – offering a specific product or service – then along comes a customer asking for something slightly different. What they are suggesting may or may not be the right thing to offer, so you should always ask yourself:
- Is this a real opportunity?
- Can I actually do it?
- Is it right for the business?
- Is there an opportunity cost?
Once you have reviewed the pros and cons and you are convinced that it is the right direction to take, grab the opportunity but make sure you revise your business plan accordingly to align with your new direction.
Help is at hand
We’re here to offer free help and advice to anyone looking to start, grow or finance a business.
We can help you write your business plan, decide your company structure, provide feedback on your idea and how best to execute it and much, much more.