Whether you’re a busy mum or have just left university, having the confidence to start your own business takes some serious guts – some of us can only dream about taking the blind leaf of faith! No matter what sector you are looking to enter in the business world a little bit of advice is always handy. So, do you have a brilli9ant business plan that you are dying to unleash onto the world? Or do you have an idea that you think may tell the test of time?
This is by far, THE most important step in any business plan process, if you do not research your niche then you will have no idea what is already available on the market, who are the leading competitors, what are their marketing techniques, how long they’ve been established for, what the customers need etc. the list could go on! First and foremost – is there a real demand for what you’re planning to sell? Otherwise you’re business idea may be a flop. By doing so, you are able to find out about any problems your product or service may have, allowing you to fix them before you’ve wasted too much time and money.
Develop and plan
Secondly, you need to start the development stage, this means that now you’ve established a need for your product or service it is time to start conducting customer research. By piloting your idea to potential customers you will be able to deal with any problems found with your product or service including; how are you going to produce, sell and promote it. Keep testing your ideas until you are completely confident in that there is a customer market for your product/service and that you are meeting the needs of those who you will be purchasing it.
The Set up
Now for some legal parts! The legal structure of the market you wish to operate within may be something you might want to consider, is it right for your business and before you start trading, do you need to register? You must be clear in understanding the risks and benefits before setting up your company as a sole trader limited company or partnership.
Questions you should think about asking are; what is the financial risk you’re taking on, how do you need to pay your tax and report to HM Revenue and Customs, how much control will you have over how you run your business?
Employing the monkeys
People either dread or are thrilled about the prospect at employing new people – which is something you will have to do, so if you don’t like it then I’m afraid it is tough luck! Discover all your legal responsibilities first as an employer including paying tax and insurance before you start employing staff, as this could affect how many people you are able to employ and under what salary. Remember you will need to register as an employer with HMRC if you want to start employing people, even if you’re a sole trader!
Money, money, money!
When you start a business there’ll usually be period when you’re investing lots of time, energy and cash before you start making a turnover. It’s imperative to examine your market to make sure your customers will really pay for your product or service before you take out a big bank loan or invest your life savings. Once you feel positive that they will, you should investigate sources of funding to help with the costs of starting up your business – from fundraisers to angel investors! Have you thought about selling shares to get your business up and running?
If you require some initial funding, it may just be to test and develop your business idea you might be able to get help from a government-backed support scheme. Take a look at the government website for more information.
Loans = Scary!
Another option for you in terms of finance, once you can show that there’s a marketplace for your idea, is getting a bank loan. You will need to be able to prove the following things in order to be considered:
- Provide the bank with realistic cash flow predictions for the foreseeable future
- Prove you will be able to pay back the loan with interest within the set period of time that is offered
The bank might require you to supply security against your loan by using some of you own assets like your house, however don’t panic too much as this is just a formality and a precaution in case you don’t repay.
Before you start trading you ought to think cautiously about how much risk you’re willing to take on, whether you are setting up your own display company that sells exhibition trailers and banners or you are going to offer a deep cleaning service to all commercial clients, whatever you choose you must have a strategic plan, realistic aims and funds as a back-up.