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The first 10 steps to starting a business

by Michela Johnson

1. Generate your idea

First of all, simple as it may sound, you need to generate a business idea. For your business to be successful you need to have an idea that is unique, viable and ideally that there is a gap in the market for. For example, if there are multiple coffee shops in your area, it is perhaps not the best idea to open another!

2. Research your market

Never neglect this important step as many businesses fail as a result of bad planning and lack of solid research in their inception. Look at the implications involved in starting a business in your chosen area. Go to the location that you are looking to open your business, survey business owners and residents, ask friends and family to help you prepare, look at potential competitors and possible pitfalls. Ensure that you are fully in the picture before you create your business plan.

3. Create your business plan

Next up is the all-important business plan. If you have paid particular attention to the last step and fully researched your market, you can use a lot of your findings to help you create an informed business plan. Your business plan must be thorough and cover your business idea and brand; your proposed location and what skills and experience you will bring to the business. Your plan must also cover who your customer base is, how you will market yourself, what sets you apart from your competitors and how you intend to fund your business.

4. Research funding and what is available to you

This brings us nicely to funding. By this point, you should be exploring funding and looking at what is actually available to you. Have you savings or capital that will help form your financial foundations? Are you taking out a business loan? Are you eligible for any kind of grant? At this point it is advisable that you seek out professional advice and ensure that you can secure the necessary funding to get your business off the ground.

5. Grasp the legalities of business types

It is imperative to fully understand what type of business you are and to make yourself aware of the legal implications. Are you a sole trader? Or maybe you are a partnership or a limited company? If you don’t know now, you better do some homework!

6. Name your business

Chances are you have already given this some thought and may have actually already outlined this in your business plan. You must give time and consideration to your business name as it can help you attract a good solid customer base. Think smart, get witty, be original and always make sure someone has not got there first and already used it for their business…

7. Find the right premises

Even if you aren’t setting up your business into an external premises straight away this step is still vital. You may make the decision not to move into a business space immediately like many others and start off working from home or starting your business online to keep your start-up costs low. However it makes good business sense to think about where you want your future premises to be, so you know your market and can ensure you can afford to set up there.

8. Fully understand tax and VAT

Not the most fascinating way to spend your time but if you are setting up your own business then this step is absolutely non-negotiable I’m afraid. There are many helpful guides available online to help you get to grips with tax and VAT and will ensure that you are equipped with the necessary knowledge and that your future business is completely legit and above board.

9. Think about staffing

Again, this may not be something that immediately springs to mind, as you may start off working alone, to keep your overheads down. However, factoring in your plans for future staffing and bearing in mind your future growth makes perfect business sense. Don’t be afraid to think big.

10. Map for the future

The initial steps of your business form just the beginning of what will hopefully be a long and illustrious career, the key is to be prepared and plan ahead. Think about the future of your business; map out your plans for growth. Create a five or ten year plan and look at how you intend to increase your revenue and build on your success, move into premises or expand your workforce.