It is no surprise that more people than ever are looking to start their own business, through either losing their jobs during the pandemic, or previous to the pandemic having a good idea, and wanting to be their own boss.
Taking that plunge leaving employment to follow your dream of starting a new business is a big scary step, however, if you speak with anyone to has taken that leap you will find in the high majority people who are pleased they have done so.
Working hard for other people is a good work ethic, however working hard for yourself makes far more sense, but before you take that plunge there are so many things to consider. Now we are not business and financial experts, but what we have done, is take that plunge, just as you are considering.
In some cases, and we are realistic, the thought of not having a guaranteed income for many is just not feasible, in these cases people often go part-time, secure in the knowledge that bills will be paid at the end of the month.
A good example of the above is me!
I started out in sales for XRF Digital, however, I always wanted to be a funeral celebrant (shameless link to my Facebook page). I spoke to my MD and explained that I wanted to follow my dream, and fortunately for me, my MD was fully supportive. In fact, he moved my hours to flexible part-time, so I could carry out funerals during the day and carry out my XRF work around the funeral hours.
I moved from Sales to Tender writing, content writing, SEO and assist any team members who require it, a role which meant I did not need to work during office hours only.
So we are going to share some information about the things you need to consider in your planning…
So Here Is our Guide To Starting Your Own Business
Things to consider when starting a new business
What business do you want to be in?
The most successful businesses are those run by passionate leaders, so think about a service, item that you are interested in. Having a real interest will help you to put the time and effort into the business, your work-life should be a happy one, this is why you want to be your own boss, right?
Market research is essential, you need to be prepared, and your idea or item may already have a saturated market, this is fine if you are doing something different to everyone else, a good place to start researching is on Google Trends Link to Google Trends Website
You need to think about your USP (Unique Selling Point) does your USP fill a gap in the market?
Who is your target audience (who will be buying your products)? Defining your customer’s profile will help you to make the right choices for your business, you need to consider attributes such as age, gender, income, hobbies, etc…
Talk to business owners, it is always good to speak with those who have started their own business to find out what they did, and how they would have done things differently. You will find that the majority of people are more than happy to share their experiences, and will find it a compliment that you consider them worthy of asking.
Contact your local networking groups, they are not only very supportive, but will also be able to point you in the right direction for mentors, and the all-important funding and investment!
Networking groups include BNI – Find your local BNI group Link to the main BNI website
Take a look at your main competition, how are they doing things? What are they doing that you could do better. Take a look at customer reviews the good and especially the bad, take on board customer comments to ensure you do not make the same mistakes.
Working From Home
The next consideration is whether you need physical premises or can you carry out your business online, working from home.
If you are able to run your business from home, don’t forget to consider what impact this may have on your family, or even on your insurance cover – it’s worth checking!
Check out our Project Manager Emma working from home during Lockdown…
Your New Website
It is worth getting in touch with our team at this point to discuss your business and find out how much a website will cost link to XRF Digital contact page. The great thing about getting this early advice is that our team have helped countless new businesses get themselves online, and become successful. They will be able to share ideas and perhaps point out issues before you hit them, we have learnt a lot from the many projects we have created, and every day is a school day, we learn something new with pretty much every project which we are able to use to our next client’s advantage.
Now we know that your business idea is a good one, and we have checked that there is indeed a gap in the market, you will now need to consider…
Do you require any extra qualifications in order to run your business?
Even if you are familiar with your idea, and perhaps have been for many years. Processes and guidelines do change, and therefore it is worth looking into any courses which will not only ensure you are on track, but will also provide you with a certificate. This will in turn help your clients have faith in your expertise.
Does your new business require licences?
A great place to check if your new business requires a licence is on the government website – https://www.gov.uk/licence-finder
Is equipment required?
You need to consider if you need any specialist equipment for your new business, this could be costly and therefore needs considering at a very early stage.
Are you considering importing a product?
If you are considering having an item made abroad or considering importing an item, make sure that everything is ethical. Items made or imported may be cheaper, but you need to consider why. Make sure you do your due diligence, for your own peace of mind, as well as for your customers. Evidence of good practices is an excellent way of showing your customers that you are responsible and you can show them that they can buy in confidence from you. This may well stand you out from the competition!
What business structure should you choose for your new startup?
Here are the types of business structures available when considering starting up your own business, with a link to the government website for explanations of what each one means, to help you make the right choice for you-
- Limited Company – https://www.gov.uk/limited-company-formation#content
- Sole Trader – https://www.gov.uk/set-up-sole-trader?step-by-step-nav=37e4c035-b25c-4289-b85c-c6d36d11a763
- Business Partnership – https://www.gov.uk/set-up-business-partnership?step-by-step-nav=37e4c035-b25c-4289-b85c-c6d36d11a763
- Social Enterprise – https://www.gov.uk/set-up-a-social-enterprise?step-by-step-nav=37e4c035-b25c-4289-b85c-c6d36d11a763
- Overseas Company – https://www.gov.uk/register-as-an-overseas-company?step-by-step-nav=37e4c035-b25c-4289-b85c-c6d36d11a763
Naming your business
This is much harder than you might think, write down some suggestions and then google them, if you are considering going global check the meanings of words worldwide. When choosing the business name you need to think about legalities as well as having your marketing hat on.
For this blog we are focusing on UK business, so you can take a look at companies house to check your business name here is the link https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company-name-availability
It is worth making sure that when you choose a name that you will not have complaints from another company for it being the same or too similar, this may lead you to legally having to change it, which can be a nightmare…….especially if you decide on the name and have begun concentrating and spending on marketing.
Once you are certain that your business name is the right one for you, appeals to your potential clients, and portrays your businesses personality, and is unique….. it’s now time to purchase your domain name.
Good news, we can help you with purchasing your domain name, and it’s worth getting variants, as all these can point to your main site. As far as SEO goes your domain will have little effect on ranking (keyword stuffing), however as ranking is about user experience, making your domain name a clear one that tells a user what your website is about, will mean fewer bounces so that may affect your ranking.
It’s time for your new businesses look, but it not about just being pretty!
Branding Your Startup
Branding your business is so much more than choosing your favourite colours and running with them, there are so many things to consider from how it will look printed and digital, to meeting accessibility guidelines. Fortunately, we (XRF Digital) can help you here, we have some fantastic in house designers who not only blow our minds but also our clients with their innovative designs, and branding. They will chat with you, and get a good feel for your business, they will work collaboratively with you, and create your branded guidelines, they can create your logo so going forward you will always be easily recognised by your customers. Get in touch for more information on our branding services link to the XRF Digital contact page
Take a look at the Millstone Hare project page to see branding by XRF Digital.
Create brand guidelines, this will be your go-to for you and anyone working within or with your company. It defines what font should be used, which colours, which logo style to use in certain marketing channels etc… Now this may seem a bit extreme if you are a sole trader, or you consider yourself a small business, however by defining the look of your business, you will maintain a strong brand, to begin with, you may be small but when your business begins to grow you will want to make sure you keep your strong brand identity…… think about recognised brands such a MacDonalds, Virgin, Coca-Cola, as soon as you see the colours and the logo you immediately know the company.
I know that this part feels people with dread, and if I am honest me too, In my previous working life I was in Marketing and business development, which means I have written my fair share of business plans… and I still dread doing them! However you do need one, it helps you not only to focus, and make sure that everything is has been considered, but also very useful if you are looking for funding and or investment. There are very few investors who will give you the time of day without one, if you are serious about starting your own business you will need one… fortunately there are plenty of business plan templates online, so just Google, most are free to download and easily editable.
Your business plan can be as in-depth as you wish, as long as you make sure that the main detail is in there. I would suggest you tackle the business plan in sections so it does not become a chore, and take your time over it, some people take a week some take a month… make it a pleasant experience and not a chore, you will also find by taking this approach the business plan will come together much easier.
Funding A New Business
Every new startup requires a different level of funding to get it off the ground, in your business plan you will have tackled the financials and should have a clear idea of how much you will require to get off the ground.
There are various ways in which you can raise funds to get your business started.
It is worth checking locally to see if there is any funding available for new business start-ups, some funding is specific to an industry, or some funding is available to companies who are solving a problem.
A good place to start is on the government website the link provided will take you to the business finance support page, where you can search what is available – https://www.gov.uk/business-finance-support
I have already mentioned business networking groups earlier in this blog, this is another great place to find out what funding is available, as well as chat with other business owners who may be able to share with you their experience and where they turned to for the funding of their business.
A good place to look for specific funding such as addressing a problem (eg. Covid19) is the UK Research and Innovation website the following link will take you to the current opportunities – https://www.ukri.org/opportunity/
As you have a business plan in place you can approach investors confidently, there are many investment websites out there ‘Angel’ investors are a good solution (think Dragons Den) not only do they have a vested interest in your business doing well but in many cases, they will be able to share knowledge and contacts. Just remember don’t give too much away, however always be realistic!
Always make sure that you know what you are talking about if you do happen to present to investors, learn from other peoples mistakes….
A very popular way of raising funds is through CrowdFunding, I carried out a crowdfunding campaign many years ago when this was all still quite a new way of raising funds. Now there are many crowdfunding sites online, it’s worth checking which one is right for you, some are industry-specific. The key to crowdfunding is to be on it! Make sure you have everything in place before you begin, Have investors ready to sign up before you launch. Starting off with a good amount in the pot will encourage others to take a look and invest.
Make sure you have a good offer for the funders, such as exclusive offers and giveaways depending on the amount given.
If you are aged between 18 and 30 it’s worth taking a look at The Princes Trust website here is the link to their page on supporting new business https://www.princes-trust.org.uk/help-for-young-people/support-starting-business
Get Your Business Seen By Your Target Audience
In your business plan, you will have defined your customer profile and will know exactly who you should be getting your business in front of. The way you market your business products and/or services needs to be in the correct marketing channel.
Do your research, take a look at successful competitors see where they are focusing their efforts. As a new business, there may well be localised mentorships where you can tap into the knowledge of local marketing experts, you may even be lucky enough to find funding opportunities… its always worth putting in the homework. Marketing can cost a lot of money so you need to be sure that you are spending wisely.
Make sure that you have in place a process whereby you can quantify your efforts, for example, if you run a campaign on social media be sure that you can track which marketing channel (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn etc) is actually bringing in traffic and leads.
Think about newsletters and e-shots, Mailchimp is very user friendly and has a free plan which is ideal for startups….. this link will take you to their landing page. Make sure you read up on GDPR have a read up on that on the GDPR.eu website- https://gdpr.eu/
Like business plans the thought of putting together a marketing plan can be daunting, fortunately, as with the business plan, there are many templates available online which can be downloaded for free. Take the same approach as you did with your business plan, complete it in sections and do not try to do it all at once… don’t make it a task. It is worth doing, it will help you to keep on budget, and will help you to focus.
Be Organised From Day One!
It is vital that you start as you mean to go on, so make sure that you organise yourself. Have in place a CRM which will allow you to keep records of all your customers, suppliers and … well anyone who has made contact with your business. Keep the records well tagged with interests so that later when you come to send out offers or promotion you can target the right customers. Always go beyond, keep good notes on all the records, so when you next speak to the customer you can have a conversation that is personal to them. Making a customer feel special is very important, so if you keep a note of birthdays for example you can send a happy birthday email, maybe with a special offer.
If you are working from home make sure you have breaks and you use one room for your work. This way you can leave the room and feel as if you are having a rest. By working all around the house, you will never be able to shut down… whilst it is important to put the hours in, you also need to think of your health and well being, if you become ill or stressed this will have a very negative impact on your business… make sure you get that work-life balance.
I hope this blog has been helpful to you, please do feel free to add any more advice in the comments, it is always good to hear what others have done when starting up their own business… and hey let us know how old your business is and how you are getting on?