The New Year could be the perfect time to finally get the new business you’ve been dreaming of off the ground. Use the simple and actionable guide below to begin the journey!
Create a Business Plan
It can be tempting to skip this step, but it is actually one of the most important elements when it comes to opening a new business and, if done effectively, may well prove to be vital in virtually every area of your undertaking.
Start by making notes about your overall vision and goals. What do you want, broadly, your business to look like, what is its overarching ethic, and what are your reasons for wanting to set it up. From there, start to explore the specifics: what gap in the market or problem do your products or services address; what is your business’s USP? Who are your target customers, and where are they located? Get as detailed as possible to bring your dream into focus and make the steps needed to make it a reality crystal clear.
As part of your business plan, think about the structure you want your business to take (will it be a limited company, for example, or will you be operating as a sole trader) and how it will be funded. Include all of the start-up costs. As part of your plan, create a realistic financial forecast for the first few years of its operation. If you will require investment, get clear about exactly how much money is needed and where this will come from.
Once you have created a professional-looking, comprehensive business plan, it can be used in meetings with the bank, potential investors or simply to refer to as your business progresses,
Determine The Infrastructure Needed
As part of your business planning, you should have touched upon the infrastructure that will be needed to run your business. Perhaps initially it will be a one-person operation, or maybe you will require a small team of staff members from the off. If the latter is the case, then you will need to think about payroll provision.
For businesses in the very early start-up stage, then an automated payroll process that ensures tax compliance is probably the best option. Look at this example of a cost-effective payroll solution that offers automatic payments to employees, tax deductions, and filing, as well as a comprehensive package of HR tools. As well as saving you time and stress, an option like this one gives you the peace of mind that your payroll processes will be fully compliant – negating the need for any anxiety over a tax bill or fine landing on your desk unexpectedly.
Next, get in place the essential services your business will need. This will probably include a business phone and broadband account, a business bank account, and customized stationery. If you need equipment, such as a printer or a till, you may be able to find these second-hand, meaning a potentially significant saving.
You could also consider hiring office space. This can be a great way of saving money, too, as you will only pay for the space you need, on the days and times that you need it. Most space available to rent comes fully equipped so that you and any staff you employ will have access to a broadband connection, printers, scanners, etc. You may be able to rent what’s known as business incubator office space – these are typically provided by charities, not-for-profit organizations, and universities – and offer very low-cost rental charges; those that use this option tend to appreciate the opportunity to network that it allows for.
Other business essentials could include signage, staff uniforms, and point of sale equipment, depending on the nature of your business.
Get a Website
Having a website is crucial for virtually every type of business now. Depending on the nature of your endeavor, you may require a simple one-page site or a large site with e-Commerce functionality and scalability options.
Have a look at your choices carefully: which web builder and/or hosting platform packages best fit your needs, thinking about security, tools, functionality, server space, and bandwidth. If your site is likely to grow quickly, your best bet will probably be a hosting platform that will allow you to upgrade to a different option when needed.
There is plenty of website-building software on the market that will allow you to create a professional, user-friendly site (even if you have no previous experience) quickly, with features such as drag and drop templates to make the whole process effortless.
Your business website is the face that it will present to the world and will probably be the first experience of your business that a potential customer will have; therefore, it is crucial that it represents your business properly and appears professional. Make sure that all of the text is typo-free and that any images included are high quality. Before uploading it, double-check that all the pages, forms, links, etc., work properly and that load time is prompt.
Your next mission is to drive traffic to your newly created website. Create a page for your business on social media to help with this, and make sure new quality, high-value content is added regularly to keep visitors coming back. Connect these pages to your website both through a prominent link and by linking to, for example, specific product pages that are referenced in a how-to guide you’ve posted.
In terms of marketing, building an emailing list is a powerful tool; offer visitors the option to sign up to your mailing list via your website, and use newsletters and discount vouchers to help build it further. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising can also be extremely effective; targeting is key to the success of this tactic, so, again, return to your business plan to help with this.
Telesales, despite the rise of online and social media marketing, still remains a key mode of generating sales for many businesses, and so it may still be worth considering, if appropriate.
Return To Your Business Plan
At this point, it’s a good idea to turn back to your business plan to assess how each stage of your business set-up has progressed and to make any changes as needed to the document. Now is the time to consider how to move to the next stage as your business grows from a start-up to an established small business. Use your plan to help you assess the next stage and the steps that will form the next part of your businesses’ journey.