So, you’ve got an idea for a business that you’d like to start. But it’s your first business, so you have no previous experience or knowledge of starting a business and don’t have a clue how to get it off the ground.
Don’t panic! We’ll be running you through, in simple steps, what you need to consider when starting a business, so we can help transform your idea into reality.
- Maybe you’re a stay-at-home mum and you have an idea to make some extra income.
- Maybe you’ve been working your way up the career ladder and have decided that you’re tired of working for someone else, doing things their way, and want to be your own boss.
- Perhaps you want to have more flexibility to work around family time.
- Or maybe you have an idea that you’re so excited about and just can’t get it out of your head!
But you don’t know where to start.
You’re excited and enthusiastic, but also overwhelmed and daunted at the idea of actually starting. What do I need to know legally? How do I register my business’s name? How do I find out if someone has already registered that name? Should I trademark the business’s name? Do I need to register my company? How do I get my first customers?
I remember all of these running through my mind when I started Pioneer Chicks. I’d been working in the family business selling microscopes for several years, but wasn’t involved in the startup of it, so it was all new to me. There was a lot to learn, but I broke it down bit-by-bit and just tackled each obstacle as it came along. I kept a record of all of these obstacles that I hit, and how I overcame them, so now I can help guide you through them too…
It’s important to realise that you’re not alone, help is readily available, you just need to know where to look. You also need to know what is essential and what is optional.
So, let’s calm your nerves and turn the overwhelm into a plan of action, that will turn your idea into a successful start-up. Here’s 5 steps that I used to help me launch Pioneer Chicks, and how you can use these steps to help start your own business.
Step 1: What is most important to you?
The first step is to figure out what is most important to you and what you hope to achieve. Be honest with yourself!
Build your business around the factors that are most important to you, be that: money, time and work/life balance – how much time are you willing to spend on your business? Or simply doing something that you love.
Ensure that your life goals are aligned with your business goals – it won’t work if these conflict each other.
Write down a list of things are most important to you and prioritise them. Then write down what you’re willing to sacrifice to allow you to do the top priority things.
This will help you to focus and really knuckle down on what’s most important to you, and help you plan how much you’re willing to spend on the business, how much time you put into it, and to decide on what gets included in your business and what to leave out.
Step 2: Ensuring financial security
Save as much as you can!
Only keep in your current account what you really need to get by on. Do you really need Sky? Or Netflix? Or Amazon prime? Could you exercise outside instead of paying gym membership? Could you switch to a cheaper supermarket? Could you sell up and move to a smaller house?
Depending on how ambitious you are and how quickly you want to see results, you may need to make some drastic changes.
I cut down to working 4 days a week with the family business to free up more time for Pioneer Chicks, which meant taking a financial hit. But it’s allowing me to do what I love, which was one of my top priorities. So, it all comes down to what you decided in step 1.
Step 3: How to register and trademark your UK business
Decide what type of business you are starting. The most common are:
- Sole trader – you run your own business as an individual and are self-employed. You keep all your business’s profits after you’ve paid tax on them. You’re personally responsible for your business and any losses made.
- Limited company – the business’s finances are separate to your own personal finances, bu there are more reporting and management responsibilities.
- Partnership – You and your partner(s) share responsibility for the business, including any losses made and bills for things that you buy. Profit is shared after taxes. A partner doesn’t have to be a person, for example, a limited company can be a partner.
Register your business:
- If you’re a sole trader, you don’t need to register your business.
- If your company is a limited company or partnership, you will need to register your business with Companies House
Trademark your business name and/or logo. This protects your business name and/or logo from being copied or being used without your permission.
When I registered, about 1 1/2 years ago from the date of this blog post, it was £170 to set up and then £50 per additional class or series:
- ‘Class’ – the category that your business comes under, either the type of product or type of service
- ‘Series’ are the different versions of your business name e.g. Pioneer Chicks and pioneerchicks
Step 4: Building a customer/client base and where to focus your time when starting out
- Where are your clients/customers hanging out? Show up where they are. Network, display posters, join Facebook groups, etc.
- Utilise free and low-cost marketing such as social media, free local magazines/papers, word of mouth via friends and family, and Facebook adverts for cheap and targeted advertising.
- Encourage reviews/testimonials and offer referral incentives
- Keep up with trends/seasonal holidays – plan ahead
Step 5: Build a support network
Being an entrepreneur can get lonely. Keep sane by joining Facebook groups and groups in your region where you can meet other people in similar situations to you. Make friends and learn from each other.
By working through these 5 steps using the free worksheet I’ve created for you, you’ll be well on your way to starting your own successful business, feeling confident and clear on what needs to be done. So you can go from a person with an idea, to a proud new business owner.