How to start a business

Published · 5 min read

Want to start a business? You’re not alone. Nearly 660,000 businesses were launched in the UK in 2016, according to the Centre for Entrepreneurs, up from 608,000 in the previous year – and it appears there’s no sign of those figures slowing down in the future.

If you’re looking for advice on starting a new business, you’ve come to the right place. Struggling to come up with new business ideas, want help with business plan templates so you can get your idea out of your head and documented on paper (or your computer) or need tips on how to start a new business? Read on to discover what you need to do.

Planning for a new business is one of the most important stages if you want to succeed – but don’t procrastinate. Take your business idea to market it, test it and iterate it if necessary as that’s a great way to see if people are interested in what you are selling to them.

So, whether you’re starting your business because of a personal passion, a gap in the market or simply because you want to work for yourself, get ready to take the first steps towards making it a reality. Read on for some useful advice as you begin your exciting journey of starting and running your own business.

Starting a new business

Ready to start your new business? Before you dive in, it’s worth getting your ducks in a row first. By doing that, you will give your business a fighting chance of succeeding. When starting a new business, you’ll need to register with HMRC – most companies set up as a sole trader, partnership or limited company.

Choose a name for your business – but check with Companies House and on Google to see if it’s still available. Once that’s done, buy the website domain name for your company.

You’ll need to put a system in place so you can manage your cash flow, costs and tax payments once you start trading. Using accounting software can help your business to stay in check and keep you on top of your finances. It’s also worth finding an accountant, who will help you stay on top of your tax requirements and other financial elements.

If raising finance is a requirement for your business – or even if it isn’t – you’ll need to create a business plan. This living document will help you with your planning and keep your business focused as you work to build it (more on that below).

Need help to start a business? To cover all the necessary areas, read the tips in this article on starting your own business.

Speaking to experts can be beneficial when you're starting a business
Speaking to experts can be beneficial when you’re starting a business

Expert advice on planning a business

Working with experts when planning a business can help you to get off on the right footing. As previously highlighted, an accountant can assist you with your tax affairs and a bookkeeper can help you manage your books, leaving you to focus on building and growing your business.

When deciding on the right legal structure for your business, it’s worth seeking advice from a solicitor or an accountant. For some businesses, it might be a straightforward option.

However, if you have plans on trading in numerous countries, you will have international tax and legal issues to consider, therefore making things more complex. Don’t rush into making a decision – do your research, seek advice, then put your plans into play.

Expert advice can also come in the form of getting help when it comes to creating important documents such as a business plan – see below for more details on why having one can really help your business.

New business ideas

Finding the perfect idea can be a tricky affair. For some people, it can be as simple as turning a passion, hobby or skill set – such as fitness, baking or designing websites – into a business idea. For others, though, the desire might be there to create a business but pinning down an idea is a bit harder.

One way to come up with a business idea is to study growing trends. Assess current business trends, read industry-specific research, talk to friends and family, see what’s happening in the news, and speak to people working in the industry you want to start up in.

For your business to flourish, you’ll need to come up with an idea that solves a problem, has a unique selling point and is something people are willing to pay for – without that, your company won’t last very long. And remember, a great business idea isn’t enough to succeed – you need to back it up with planning, application, dedication and hard work.

For more on coming up with business ideas, read this article on studying growing trends.

Creating a business plan means you can set strategic goals for your company
Creating a business plan means you can set strategic goals for your company

How to write a great business plan

If you want to give your business a fighting chance of succeeding, it helps to have a business plan in place. By creating a business plan, you will have a practical framework that will guide your hard work, enthusiasm and skills, and keep you focused.

You will use the document to map out your company’s strategic goals, strengths and weaknesses, purpose and unique selling point. It will also help you to achieve clarity of the market you want to sell to and the companies you will be competing against.

By using your business plan to create milestones for your company, you can set targets that will keep you moving as your bid to build and grow your firm.

Another tool that can assist you is a Business Model Canvas – a one-page business plan that can help your company simplify its planning in a way that is highly visual.

Need help writing a business plan? Follow the tips in this article on creating business plans to develop a document that will help you to stay on top of things.

Business plans for different business types

Want to create a business plan for your company but need something that’s tailored to your target market? We’ve created a series of industry-specific business plans that will help and save you time.

Food and drink businesses

Got designs on opening a restaurant, running a coffee shop, starting a food truck or selling your products in a supermarket? The food and drink industry is a competitive one, so having your planning in place will help. Check out this business plan template for food and drink companies.

Online and ecommerce businesses

Planning on selling goods online? It’s tempting to dive right in as you don’t have to worry about purchasing commercial real estate – but you still have to consider how you’ll deliver your products and services to your customers. Then you must determine how you’ll be selling your goods, how you’ll market your business and what your online shop front will look like – ie, your website. This business plan template for online retail and ecommerce businesses will help to you plan all of those elements.

Shops and retail businesses

Do you have ambitions of owning your own shop – a proper bricks-and-mortar option? Owning a physical space to sell your goods will have its challenges, notably property purchase or rental costs and finding the right location, among other things, so it’s in your best interest to be prepared. By using a business plan for shops and retail companies, you will put your company in good stead.

Professional services businesses

So, you’ve worked for a design agency for years and you’re ready to go it alone? Perhaps you want to open your own cleaning business or maybe you want to run your own consulting firm. No matter what type or professional services company you want to run, it will help to have a tailored business plan that will get you planning quickly. Use this business plan template for professional services and bring your business idea to life.

Ready to start a business?

There are lots of steps to take when starting your business but by taking your time and putting the right planning in place, you will make things easier.

Remember, take advantage of expert advice when you need it, think about how you can meet the needs of your customers and clients with your products and services. And don’t forget about your finances – make sure you keep on top of your cash flow if you want your business to succeed.

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