We’ve survived January, and with any luck, your New Year’s resolutions are still intact – especially if you were one of the inspired individuals who decided they wanted to start a business this year. Google trend data has revealed that anyone with an entrepreneurial fibre in their being was busy looking up “how to start a business” at the beginning of the year. In fact, every year, January sees a spike for phrases like “starting a business” and “business ideas”.
It seems that the ethos of ‘new year, new you’ sets something alight in entrepreneurs. This theory extends to September, where another spike repeatedly appears year after year. Perhaps the ‘back to school’ and ‘time to begin a new chapter’ refrain is also deeply embedded in us, even long after we’ve left the classroom.
So, you’ve decided to start a business, but what do you need to do over the next few months to fulfil your resolution?
Here, the small business experts at Opus Energy, outline the key steps to take if building a business is on your mind:
A good business plan should be a document that you can rely on months down the line to make sure you’re staying true to your goals. It should map out your idea, indicate what success looks like (i.e. what will you measure to evaluate whether you’re doing well or poorly?), detail your business goals, and anticipate any challenges along the way.
Find some templates for business plans from The Prince’s Trust, some advice on writing a business plan from Start Up Donut, and questions from Brighter Business to test your business plan is watertight.
Yes, we’re putting this before all the heavy legal stuff. If your proposed business name already exists in the world, it’ll be an inconvenience at best. In the worst case scenario, it could pose seriously sticky legal problems later down the line, so you don’t want to get attached to a name you can’t operate under.
The quickest way to find an answer is to go back to our friend Google. Run a search with variants of your proposed business name, then type it in under the most recognisable URL formations (businessname.com, businessname.co.uk, and so on). We’d even recommend searching within social media platforms, as you may want to claim ownership of a specific social handle (and this might also help you check out the competition).
Next up: the formal checks. The kind of company you choose to set up will affect the rules when it comes to naming – you can see the guidelines on the Government’s company naming page here, which also has a link to the Companies House register.
This is also when you’ll want to start considering your branding – and whether you manage that in-house or outsource to an agency or freelancer (work out which you’ll need with these tips).
This is a crucial area to get right, so you should always seek professional help when it comes to legal issues.
After all, there are quite a few hurdles you may have to face in the early stages of your business. For example, are you setting up the company by yourself, or is there more than one of you who will own the final product? If so, you’ll want to educate yourself on shareholders’ agreements.
Other red tape could fall within the field of intellectual property ownership, operating licences, VAT registration, business insurance, health and safety regulations, and so on.
It can feel like a minefield, but doing the legwork now will make the journey easier as your business matures. To start you off, here are a few reliable resources:
Ready to get some other bodies on board? Don’t be in a rush to recruit.
For the same reason you make a business plan before embarking on the building of the business, you should settle on the kind of culture you want your company to have to then source the right people who will help you see this vision through.
Having a concrete idea of the working culture that will best suit your business will help you hone in on the kind of people you should be recruiting, if anyone. The smaller a company, the more jarring it is when that colleague chemistry isn’t there, so this is where you need to tread carefully.
Once you’ve fleshed out your idea, crossed the Ts and dotted the Is, now may be the time to decide if, and who, you want to be hiring.
Brush up on your employment law, and remember that investing in employees is the same as investing in your business. Retaining an employee is almost always cheaper than replacing an employee, and at this early stage in the game, you need someone who’s ready to roll up their sleeves and get stuck in. Choose wisely now to save choosing again six months down the line.
Of course, every entrepreneur works at a different pace. Whether it takes you six months or six weeks, follow the plan and know that you’re giving your budding business the best chance. Who knows where you’ll be this time next year?
For more tips on building your business, visit www.brighterbusiness.co.uk.