When setting up a company, there’s a number of things you should tick off your to-do list, from registering your business name to making sure a product you’re selling has been trialed and tested.
Getting these things right when starting up your business is so important. But all the effort and excitement of creating a new company can mean some important things don’t get the attention they deserve. This article looks at five things you should aim to get right when setting up your business.
1. Business plan
Getting this right is crucial when going into any business, so the importance of a good business plan can’t be underestimated. As well as showing that you know your business inside-out, and the products or services you’re selling, your plan should demonstrate a clear understanding of the market sector your targeting. It should show evidence that you have done you research and you know and understand the audience and the customer base you hope to attract.
Your plan should explain what you plan to do – both now and in the future – to maintain and grow your company. This is especially important if you plan to attract investors or convince banks to help fund your business’s long-term developments. It should also demonstrate ambition, while being realistic, such as in your financial projections. Once complete, your business plan shouldn’t just sit on a shelf gathering dust. You should use it as a benchmark for the level you want your company to perform. You should refer to it from time to time to keep your business in check, keep your ideas focused, make sure you take the right opportunities, and select the right talent to develop your company.
If your business will have a physical location, like a shop that customers will buy from, or a company that you plan for clients to call into, it’s important to get your premises right. You should think about a location for your business that has a good footfall, allows the building and signage to be clearly seen, and provides people with easy access to enter and leave the premises.
It’s worth also thinking about a space that allows you room to build and extend the property, especially if you plan to expand your business years down the line. You should also consider areas with good road access, like if you will be relying on daily deliveries from supplies or manufacturers. It’s also wise to consider a building that reflects your business sector and style, and will make your business stand out to clients or customers. For instance, an attractive and stylish building should be well-suited to a modern design company, while being more appealing to potential clients.
When setting up a business it’s important to keep yourself protected with the right insurance, from your property to your offering. If a claim is made against you, whether that’s a customer slipping in your shop, or a competitor claiming some of work is infringement of copyright, you should make sure you have the correct cover to support things like court fees and compensation. If not, your start-up might end before it’s even got started.
For instance, if you have one or more members of staff, it’s a legal requirement that you have employees’ liability insurance. And if you make or sell products, product liability cover is important. Other types of insurance to consider are public liability, if your business is public facing, professional indemnity insurance, if you provide a professional service to clients, and property insurance to protect your business premises.
4. Tax and accounting
Ensuring the accuracy of your business taxes should be another priority, ready for when the annual tax return deadline comes. You need to make sure all your paperwork is right and in order, and that you have it to hand in case HMRC has any questions about your new business. If an error or inconsistency is found in your paperwork, it’s more likely to cause HMRC to conduct a tax investigation to get a clearer idea of your business finances. These can be time-consuming and might affect the day-to-day running of your operation – something you could do without in the early stages of building up your company.
You should also be on top of your bookkeeping and basic accounting. A simple and effective system, which you can use to record every business transaction you make, will help keep you on top of your ingoings and outgoings right from the beginning. If you have this at the start, you’re less likely to falter with your finances going forward. You can react to things like cash-flow problems quickly, and make financial decisions before issues become bigger problems further down the line.
The sale of your products and services is what will make you money. So you should think about how you will achieve your sales, how you plan to grow and develop those sales techniques and processes, and what avenues you plan to focus on to develop your business. In getting your sales choices right, you should always think about ways to grow and improve them.
There are many questions to ask yourself when it comes to building on your company sales. For instance, will you be aiming to do the bulk of your sales yourself, or will you employ a sales person and then attempt to build up a sales team? Will you mainly sell over the phone, or will you also visit clients or attend industry events to promote your services and convert leads to customers? If you’ll sell products in a shop, do you plan to open up other ways to sell your products, like by taking your services online or providing a phone order line? Or if you’re a manufacturer, do you plan to join a core stable supply chains of a local business, or will you be looking further afield?
Getting your marketing right isn’t something that should be overlooked when setting up your business. It’s all very well saying the best kind of business marketing is positive word of mouth, but if no one knows your business exists, how can people buy from you, let alone tell others how good you are? There are different streams of marketing to take advantage of from the get-go, especially in today’s growing digital world. For instance, it’s wise to have your company website up and running ready for when you launch, with content that reflects your brand and what you’re about, alongside the features and benefits of your offerings.
It’s also worth looking into other ways to promote your company, from putting up posters in your local area, to publishing ads or articles about your business in industry-relevant magazines. Good marketing doesn’t have to cost the earth too. For instance, you could set up some accounts on social media to help make yourself known and build up a following. You should also consider putting together some press releases, especially in time for when your business launches, which you can distribute to your local media. If editors choose to publish these articles, your business could get some effective free advertisement. You could also gain the attention of a potentially bigger customer base to help grow your company successfully.