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The ULTIMATE guide for startup success - First things first

Let’s get one thing straight. Starting a business is no walk in the park. Even if you’ve got the best idea in the world, your new venture will struggle to get off the ground if you don’t prepare.

We’ll walk you through every step you need to take, before, during and after launch. So you’ll be flying before you know it.

First things first.

If there’s one piece of advice you need, it’s to not rush into things. Trying to make a sale without doing your homework first is like trying to walk a tightrope after eight gin and tonics – you’ll fall to Earth fast.

Do your research

Your product or service might seem great to you, but will people really want it? One quick way to find out is to ask people if they’d buy it if it really existed. You could start small by asking family and friends, go a bit bigger with a poll to your social media followers, or pay a market research company to do it professionally.

Think about how you’ll find customers. Will you have to phone prospects, promote a website, set up an email marketing campaign, or something else? This is called your go-to-market sales strategy. The brilliant Business Model Canvas tool lets you set out your business model on one page.

Define who you are

Create a mission statement outlining the reason your business exists. Write a vision, which focuses on the direction your business is headed in. And come up with a list of values that’ll be the bedrock of your business culture.

These will be the first bits to go in your brand guidelines, which you can develop further with what colours and font you’d like to use in marketing material, and how you want to “sound” when talking to customers (your Tone of Voice).

Get your marketing head on

Got an idea for a business name? Make sure it’s easy to remember and one you won’t have to keep spelling out every time. Check the website domain name exists too, or you could end up having to choose something obscure. You can register the domain there too.

Get a logo designed, either on the cheap using tools like Free Logo Services, or from a nearby graphic designer (e.g. google “graphic designer Reading”) who could knock one up for a few hundred pounds.

Build a website using something like Wix, or search google for a local web designer if you want something with bells and whistles.

Create social media profiles for your business on Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook, ideally using the same handle as your business name, or one that’s very similar (like @CountingupHQ).

Do the legal stuff

Infringing third-party intellectual property rights can be costly. To avoid inadvertently using a logo or a name trademarked by another company check existing trademarks first.

If you’d like to register your own trademark, this will stop others from stealing your business name, product name or logo. It costs around £200 per trademark.

Find an accountant

They’re excellent business advisors, and the tax advice alone can often save you a huge amount of money in the first year. Find one that’s nearby or look for one who specialises in your line of work.

Get some support

Going into business is scary. So tell all your family and friends what you’re doing and why . They’ll be your best support when things look the bleakest and be happiest for you when things look the best.

Scared to go it alone? Find a superstar co-founder with a complementary skillset. That way, you’ll have twice the chance of success.

Be brave

Taking this leap is scary. But if you follow everything we’ve said so far, you should have courage to take your business from a plan on paper to action.

One other thing

Have superhuman commitment. You’ll need it.