So you’re starting a business – and what an exciting time it is! You’ve got your idea, your plan, your enthusiasm and your energy. But what are the five main things you’ll need to know when you start? Try our handy guide to get you thinking.
Have your plan properly mapped out
For many small businesses, an idea grows quickly and action rapidly follows. And this is ideal to capitalize on the energy and seek to fill a gap in the market before a competitor does. However, it’s still important to spend time planning properly and understand all the different factors that will affect your business. You’ll have to think about your business model, your competitors, the strengths, opportunities, weaknesses and threats of your concept (also known as a SWOT analysis) and the actions you’ll take to mitigate any weak areas, your funding sources, your product or service costing – and more. Even if you write it down, you’ll also need to have your business plan in your head and be able to explain it to a variety of people in different ways – whether that’s a 30-second marketing pitch for a potential customer or a comprehensive analysis and explanation of the offer to a potential investor.
Get the right people involved
With this in mind, it can be useful to get help from a more experienced business person who has done it all before and has plenty of advice to share. Business coaching is a great way to develop your skills and knowledge and learn from others, so you can apply relevant insight to your own activities and avoid making the same mistakes! A good coach, mentor or business ‘angel’ will share your passion for business and encourage you to succeed, while challenging you too in the right way to ensure that you’re covering all the angles.
Know your strengths
Be clear about what you’re good at and where you’ll benefit from bringing in additional people with complementary skills as the business grows. If you’re a natural-born salesperson, but struggle with operational delivery and fulfillment, then don’t simply recruit someone who’s like you. Look for an operational manager who can deal with orders and delivery, so that you start to build a well-rounded team. Likewise, if you’re an absolute optimist who only sees roses, then make sure your next team member is a resolute pragmatist who will challenge and question your assumptions in a different way and help create a more balanced business team for long-term success.
Know how you’ll fund your business
Finance is perhaps the biggest stumbling block for new businesses, especially in today’s challenging economic climate. So make sure you know how you’ll fund your business, whether that’s with a bank loan, your savings, up-front orders, an investor, a grant or a combination of these. It’s worth getting the help of an accountant to plan for this.
Get your tax affairs sorted from the start It’s dull perhaps, but hugely important to make sure at all costs that you register with the HMRC as a new business and start to keep books from the start. Different financial records are required depending on your size and nature of business and an accountant is useful for maintaining the books and advising on tax efficiency. This will allow you to focus on building the business. Many SMEs swear by having the services of a good accountant or tax-advice firm to help them trade efficiently and legally.