Starting A Business? You Need To Read This! - Pt. 1
Entrepreneurship has become fashionable. The days when the working-class and the upper-class sneered at the man with a small barrow and big dreams are gone.
After the various 'Apprentice' and 'Dragon' program on the goggle-box, Mr. Pizza-Eater from Tiddle-Pottingdon now respects the Man With A Business Plan.
Here are the first 10 of 30 tips to help you, dear reader, to be that Man, to go from garden-shed to gilded-washroom glory!
1. Will It Make Money?
It's human nature to be impulsive. And that can work, for some people. Just jump in. Take a chance. No guts, no glory, right?
But it's kind of foolish, also.
An idea can sound really great in your head. You can spend hours researching it on the internet. What many people don't do is test it out.
Ask other people what they think about it and try to be dispassionate when they criticise. Don't take it personally.
Will it make money? Will enough people buy it so you can maintain the business and take dividends in year 3?
2. Create Some Kind Of Business Plan
I guess if you start small, and just go at it, you can trial-and-error your way to success. What a lot of Small Men Who Made It Big don't realise is how many fellows, just like them, didn't.
The only difference between them and the dreamer perched on a bar-stool is that they picked a 'fat' niche, worked hard at it and people liked them enough, as people, to do business with them.
You should write down what you want to happen and when it has to happen. Just start with a template you download off the internet and modify it to suit.
Then it's not all in your head and you can remember that, if, in the first quarter of year two, you're not seeking hands-on investors, something is amiss.
=> Register a company ...
3. Who Or What Will Pay Your Initial Expenses?
It can take a long time for businesses to go into profit. You still need money to live. Will your redundancy from your previous job, your wife's income, a loan, or your savings, pay the rent, or are you guaranteed big turnover from the get-go?
Everyone on the planet should aim to have enough money to last them six months, to a year, off work, because that can happen to anyone.
Tip: Investors like a business which they can sell the fittings off of if the business needs to be nuked. Ideally, there should be some value in your business even if it's dead. You can then cash-in yourself, if needs be.
4. Are All Aboard Who Should Be Aboard?
This means family. Maybe neighbours too, if you're going to be working from home.
Your startup may start-up time-wasting arguments if key people are are not clued-in as to what is going to happen now, and in the future.
5. What Will The Name Be?
Your business name should be memorable, dissimilar to other businesses in the same niche and ideally evoke what you're selling, but that may be too much to ask, perhaps. It should at least be unique.
A company selling men's formal wear called "Zooto" will at least rank for it's own name in the Google search engine.
=> Read more about names ...
6. Buy A Domain Name Early On
You'll be sick as a piglet if you get your company registered and all your stationery done only to find zooto.co.uk and zooto.com have been bought by someone else.
Also, advertising zooto.somewebprovider.com as your web address makes you look like a total amateur.
7. What Will Your Company Structure Be?
If you are the sole director and shareholder, well, that's simple.
If there are other bods involved, you'd better give some thought as to who owns what e.g. shareholdings. Even people who are only directors can cause trouble later on if they decide to play rough.
Whatever you do, don't give shares, control of your bank account or directorships to friends and family just to be nice or because they browbeat you about it.
You will have plenty of time to regret it later on when greed starts to warp their minds. You will want to go in X direction and you will find that Brother Joe, who has no business sense whatsoever and is as lazy as a cat in sunshine, wants to go in another, and he can stop you in your tracks.
8. Set Up Log In Access To HMRC.gov.uk
Set up log in access to HMRC.gov.uk for yourself as a self-employed person and, separately, for your company as a corporation.
You can then be ready to file your tax returns yourself even if your crackhead accountant forgets to.
It's not fun to be sitting in your wee office with the realisation that you haven't got the authentication code in the post yet that lets you get access and you're going to get a fine for late filing. And you had over a year to get it sorted out!
9. Apply For Relevant Licenses / Business Rates / Other Bureaucratic Tethers
Anyone who wants to sell booze on the High St. can't just open up a shop and do it. Some trades require local or national government permissions. Some businesses attract certain taxes.
It may interrupt your trade at an inconvenient time if The Man comes knocking at your door looking for the watermarked chit you're supposed to have and you don't have it.
At least talk to other people in the same niche in the next city to see what's involved in setting up a herbal supplement distribution centre; basically, who needs to be paid off before you can proceed in peace.
10. Put Up A Tight Website
The first thing people do nowadays to look you up on the internet. Your site doesn't have to have all the bells-and-whistles but it should:
1. Have no errors or obvious missing bits and
2. Be similar to others in the same niche (reassuring) and
3. Look professional.
Even a simple 'business card' website will do to start with: name, address, telephone number, 'about us', logo and name.
Then no red flags will be raised in people's minds while you're scrambling to get up-and-running.
=> Get a business address today!
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