Thinking of starting your own small business? The first few months are crucial – get the right things in place at the start, and you’re much more likely to succeed.
Four months: Four Considerations
This blog gives you four specific areas to consider when you start your business:
- Preparation and planning
- Resources and staffing
- Marketing and social media
- Processes and regulations
By understanding what you need to do, making sure you do what is necessary before you do what is desirable, and using outside help when you need it, you’ll be setting your business off to the best possible start.
Preparation and planning
This is all about making sure you’ve thought about what needs to be done in order for your business to be ready to go. Much of this can be done in advance of actually ‘starting’ the business, so you might want to consider starting to plan your business while you’re still in the day job.
Registering – you will need to register as a business or sole trader with HM Revenue and Custom, and, if you are setting up a company or partnership, you should register that with Companies House. You may also have to register your company for VAT, if applicable.
Finances – do you need to apply for funding? Whether it’s a business loan from your bank, or funding from a dedicated fund or business angel, you’ll need to know what is required in order to secure the money you need. Set up a separate bank account for your business. You may also want to set up a linked account to help you keep reserves aside for tax bills or other known expenses. It’s also worth thinking about getting the right financial software in place – even if you are a sole trader – to minimise the time you spend on invoices and accounts management. Don’t forget you might also need to look for an accountant – not just for filling in your tax returns, but for helping you with day-to-day financial planning and ensuring your business finances run smoothly.
Names and brand – you will need a name for your business, and this should be a name that is not already in use elsewhere. Take a look at our advice on how to go about a new business name search. You can use the Companies House website to make sure you are not duplicating someone else’s business name. You’ll then need to think about a brand – not just a logo, but the principles and values behind your business. Set up your branding so that you have the right types of logo for web and for print, and to use on social media.
Property – if you are planning on working from an office, or you need shop or warehousing space, investigate costs and availability so that you can add this to your business plan finances.
Business plan – anyone investing in your business or advising you on how to organise your processes will ask to see a business plan. This doesn’t have to be a lengthy, detailed document, but it does need to show that you have done some market research, that you understand your pricing, that you have a good sales and marketing model and some idea of cash flow and turnover forecasting. Read our blog on how to prepare a business plan.
Resources and staffing
Many people start a new business themselves – sometimes with help from a spouse or a friend. Others need immediate resources in order to carry out business. Think about your options for employing someone, with all the costs and responsibilities that entails, or whether it is more cost-effective and productive to outsource some tasks to a virtual assistant business. As this is an easy way to access experienced help without the cost of recruitment, many new businesses choose this option.
Always start by looking at the tasks where you lack the time or the expertise to do things well. Your time is best served in business development, networking and building your reputation – someone else can handle your telephone answering, social media, event planning, bookkeeping and more. The known cost of a virtual assistant means you can budget effectively and hand these tasks over confidently.
If your business is product-driven, you’ll also need to think about how and where you’re going to source your products, what the costs are of getting the products you need, and how you’re going to distribute them. Product sourcing is an important thing to get right from the very beginning, if you can.
Marketing and social media
Understanding your sales and marketing funnel and creating the content, campaigns, advertising and profile material to get your business in front of the right customers can be daunting. New businesses often underestimate how much time and effort needs to be invested here in order to be successful.
You’ll need to have a good, mobile-ready website up and running before you launch your business, and you’ll need to keep the website fresh and up-to-date. Find out what social media platforms your target audience is most likely to be using so that you can reach them effectively. From blogs to sales lists, virtual assistant marketing support can help you to plan and execute a small business social media strategy that makes the most of your budget.
Processes and regulations
You should make sure that your business has everything in place that it needs in order to comply with relevant regulations. This is particularly important if you are working in a legally or financially regulated industry, or if you sell products that need to meet certain standards.
If you are importing or exporting goods, make sure you have taken advice on how to manage this properly, and for all businesses, a set of terms and conditions helps to protect you, your business and your customers for every transaction you make.
If you are thinking of employing people, you’ll also need to be aware of relevant HR legislation or talk to an outsourced HR provider who can help you. You’ll need some employee procedures in place to protect the rights of your staff and your business. These tasks can be managed most cost effectively by hiring a virtual administrative assistant who can work with HR service providers to make sure your business is covered.
Give yourself a break
Starting your own small business takes a leap of faith. Even with planning and professional support, you can’t predict with absolute certainty how things will go. The secret is to be focused, well-prepared and able to adapt to changing circumstances if you need to.
And don’t stay up all night or work all weekend – you need time to recharge and relax, and many successful entrepreneurs say that their best ideas come to them when they’re walking the dog, out for a run or sitting at the movies. So give yourself a break, take help wherever it’s offered and keep focused on healthy business success.
If you’re short on time and need help with planning or starting your own business and would like to learn more about our virtual support services, feel free to call us on 0800 994 9016 or click here to contact us.