How To Start a Business

Many people dream about starting their own business, but it can be really hard to know how to take your first step toward making it happen. You’re in the right place to find out how to start!

“Doing your best today is the best preparation for tomorrow.”

Many people dream about starting their own business, but it can be really hard to know how to take your first step toward making it happen.

Thinking about how to start a business is overwhelming, and there are so many questions you have when you first get started!

Making sure you’re taking the right steps at the beginning of your journey will ensure that you’ve laid solid groundwork for the successful future of your business.

You’ll be thankful for the solid foundation you’ve laid, and perhaps even astounded by what you’ve created!

Luckily for you, you’re in the right place to find out how to start a business.

Keep reading to find out what you need to do to start your own business and become your own boss.

 

Generating an Idea

Have you noticed a gap in the market?

Do you have a passion, hobby, or skill?

Is there something someone else is doing that you could do better?

These are some of the questions to ask yourself when you’re coming up with a good business idea. Make sure it’s something you can see yourself being happy to dedicate lots of time to – hard work is much easier if it’s for something you’re really passionate about!

And don’t worry about getting it exactly right the first time. Your concept will evolve as you get more clued up on the market.

This also goes for after you’ve started the business. Don’t be surprised if your business looks different after a year or so of running it. This is fine! Businesses tend to evolve over time; your offer will become more focused as you gain market experience.

What matters at this point is that you start with the basis of an idea; there will be time to refine it as you receive feedback from customers and input from others as you go.

Our Start-up Day offers the opportunity to work through this process with the support of an experienced business coach, and alongside others in your shoes.

 

Research the Market

This is the step most budding business owners tend to skip over. After all, it’s not the most fun! But it is the most important.

This is Market Research.

You could think you’ve got the best idea since sliced bread, but without looking at the reality of the market and the potential appetite from consumers, how can you be sure?

Make sure you’re not making any assumptions and always back up your claims with research and evidence.

Areas your market research should cover include:

  • Your target customers
  • Your competitors
  • Market changes and forecasts
  • Price points and models.

There are many ways you can gather this information:

  • Use the Library Services to find out in-depth company information about your competitors
  • Use The Growth Hub online resources
  • Send out surveys online
  • Conduct focus groups.

Do your SWOT analysis

Completing a SWOT analysis is a hugely useful step to help you understand your business and the effects of the market it will operate in.

You and your business:

  • Strengths (What are your strengths? What is your USP?)
  • Weaknesses (What are your weaknesses? Where do you lack skills?)

External factors on your business:

  • Opportunities (What opportunities do you see? Does my idea tap into any trends?)
  • Threats (What threats might you face? Who’s your competition?)

 

Financing your business

Woohoo! You’ve decided to go ahead.

Now you need to plan how you will fund the start-up costs.

Will you need a loan? Can you use savings? Could your friends or family support you? Are your start-up costs and overheads low, meaning you don’t need a chunk of investment upfront?

If you want to find out how you can apply for grants and loans for your small business in Gloucestershire, check out our blog that covers this subject in detail.

The second part of this question is continuing to finance your business.

Put together a simple cash flow forecast – estimating how much you’ll make in the business (which should be informed by your thorough market research!) and how much you’ll need to spend ongoing.

Regular expenditures would be things like website hosting, marketing, subscriptions, and essential training.

If you need a hand with the numbers (they’re not everyone’s cup of tea!) join one of our finance workshops. These workshops take you through your tax requirements, tax returns, company returns, and how to create a cash flow forecast.

 

Prepare a Strategy

A business plan will serve as your road map. It will guide the company from its inception to its expansion, with reference to key milestones along the way.

The plan will detail how you intend to get started as well as your ultimate goals – and how you intend to get from one to the other.

There are many free tools you can access to build your business plan.

Our Business Planning Workshop will help you prepare your business plan. It introduces you to a valuable planning tool and guides you through the process of fully understanding your own business and its direction.

You will be guided through the process of creating your own Business Model Canvas (BMC). This will provide you with insights into your customers and market, as well as insights into your value propositions, channels, and, of course, how to make enough money.

If you’re planning on applying for a loan for your business, a thorough and detailed business plan will give you in the best footing for success.

 

Register Your Company

When you start a business, you must contact two organisations: Companies House and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). Before registering with either, consider which company status is best for you.

Self-employed

This status indicates that you work for yourself. You keep records and accounts of your own activities and, because you are acting alone, you get to keep all profits – but you are also solely liable for any debts.

Limited Company

Limited companies exist in their own right, with the company’s finances kept separate from the owners’ personal finances, limiting your liability.

Partnership

Consider forming a partnership if you want to be self-employed but want to collaborate with a friend or colleague. It means that the risks, costs, and workload are shared by two or more people.

If you’re unsure, ask! The status of your company will influence how much admin you have to do as well as the type of financial records you must keep and file.

Useful links:

‘Starting a Business’ HMRC | www.hmrc.gov.uk/startingup

‘Tax Help – and advice for small business’ | www.businesslink.gov.uk/taxhelp

Join our Business Registration course to find out all about the different types of legal structures for your business and your financial and legal responsibilities.

 

Protect Your Brand

You’ve thought of a cool business name and you’ve now registered with Companies House as well as HM Revenue and Customs!

Your intellectual property should be your next consideration.

You may decide to register a trademark to protect your company’s name or brand, or a patent if you’ve developed a novel invention. Companies won’t be able to use your name or invention without your permission if you register.

If you need help, look no further. Gloucestershire Libraries have collaborated with the UK PATLIB Network, supported by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO).

They provide local access to patent, trademark, designs, and copyright information, to help you understand the different types of legal protection and how to apply to protect your intellectual property assets. To access this service, give them an email. You can also contact IPO directly.

 

Take Control of Your Household Admin

When you first start out, you’ll most likely be working from home. It’s the best way to get started because it keeps costs low and removes commuting time.

You’ll most likely be outsourcing work rather than hiring employees, so there’s no need for a large number of people to come into the office every day.

Make the most of video platforms for meetings and business networking, like Zoom or Microsoft Teams, and coworking spaces, like The Growth Hub. It’s comforting to know that you’re not alone in starting a business from home. 

 

Your Technical Structure

What can you put into place to make your processes more efficient?

Set up your business email, phone, network connectivity, and file sharing.

You may find yourself working longer hours than usual in the first few months of starting your business as you’re getting used to the processes and further refining them.

This goes for both your internal processes and the journey your customer takes, too!

When your company begins to expand, the information you collect – information on your customers, clients, and contacts, as well as financial details – will become increasingly valuable, so ensure you’ve got a great process in place to store these efficiently and securely.

You can find out more about GDPR and Cyber Security for small businesses through the Cyber Security Resilience Centre.

9 free cloud apps for your business

 

Getting your first customers

With all of the marketing channels that are out there – from TikTok to Pinterest, Google Adwords to targeted email campaigns, the world of marketing can seem like a minefield.

Guess what can help you decide what marketing strategies to use?

Your market research!

Using the information you find in your research, you’ll be able to see what marketing channels you can use to reach your customer base.

The question to ask yourself is:

What marketing channels do my target audience use?

By understanding your target audience’s demographics, likes and dislikes, financial situation, and more, you can make an educated decision on which marketing channels you can use to reach your customers.

Our marketing workshop takes you through the process of creating a marketing strategy for your business. It’ll help you decide which channels to use, how to plan your time, and, importantly, how to measure the impact of your marketing efforts.

 

We can help you!

We know that it can be an isolating, stressful, and competitive experience to start your own business. But with the right advice and community, it needn’t be.

If you want to find out more about what it’s like to take part in our programme, and what we offer, take a look at our Secret Weapon For Start-ups here. You’ll get the information straight from the horse’s mouth – we feature our clients Leo Saunders founder of Tuneriver, Carla MacLean founder at Carla’s Captivating Content, and Sacha Kerkhof founder at Astolos, and many more.

To sign up to get support from us at Start and Grow Enterprise, simply complete our short online joining form. We look forward to helping you with your new venture!

To take part in the Start and Grow Enterprise project, you will need to complete a short joining form.