10 things you need to know before starting a business in the UK
Starting a business is no walk in the park. Even if with the best idea in the world, a venture will struggle to get off the ground without adequate preparation. Here are the steps you need to take to starting a business in the UK, before, during and after launch.
1. Do your research
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.
An idea may seem great to you, but do others want it to come to life too? One quick way to find out is to ask people if they would buy it. Ask family and friends, conduct a poll on social media or pay a market research company to do it professionally.
2. Create a business model
Consider how you will find your 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. Business Model Canvas is a useful tool that provides a structure to explaining and testing business ideas, tracking progress and identifying risks.
3. 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 parts of your brand guidelines, which you can develop further with the colours and font you will use in marketing materials and how you want to sound when talking to customers (your Tone of Voice).
4. Choose a name and design a logo
Got an idea for a business name? Make sure it’s easy to remember and one you won’t have to keep spelling it out every time you say it in conversation. Check that the website domain name exists too – you don’t want to have to settle for something obscure. Next, register your chosen domain.
Design a logo – either on the cheap using tools like Free Logo Services – or from a graphic designer who could knock one up for a few hundred pounds.
5. Make sure you’re legally compliant
Infringing third-party intellectual property rights can be expensive. To avoid inadvertently using a logo or a name trademarked by another company, check existing trademarks first. Registering your own trademark will stop others from stealing your business name, product name or logo. It costs around £200 per trademark.
6. Set up on social media
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).
Build your own website using intuitive drag and drop features with Wix, or search for a freelance website developer if you’re ready to pay extra for a site with bells and whistles.
7. Open a business account
Whether you’re a sole trader, self-employed or creating a small limited company, it’s important to have a business account to save significant time on admin, simplify your business accounting and help you access business finance.
Countingup is the UK’s most highly rated business current account on Trustpilot. It’s saving time and money for over 29,000 business owners with automated accounting, and it’s free to get started. Find out more here.
8. Find an accountant
Accountants can be strong business advisors, recommending sound, long-term financial strategies to help you grow your business. Their tax advice alone can often save you a significant amount of money within your first year of starting business.
9. Activate your connections
Tell your family and friends what you’re doing and why. They will be your support when things look the bleakest and be happiest for you when you are successful. Sharing your new product with your network is also a good way of getting your first customers.
Once the initial excitement has passed, starting a business is hard and a team is always stronger than an individual. If you would like a partner to problem solve and grow the business with, find a superstar co-founder with a complementary skillset.
10. Make the leap
The prospect of starting a business on your own can be daunting. However, if you do your research, create a great service/product and have a solid strategy in place, you’ll have what you need to lift your business off the ground.