10 Things To Know When Setting Up A New Business

This is a guest post.

Setting up your own business, earning your own income and creating a new life for yourself all sounds great, doesn’t it? But in these tough economic times, it isn’t the easiest thing to do; so it’s important to be serious and have a plan. The first step is to educate yourself on what is required, before you can even get started.

1. Have a plan

Writing a business plan may sound like a needless task when no one will see it but you.  However, just doing this will help you map out where you intend to go, with key milestones, supported by information on how you’ll achieve this. This will help you calculate all your costs, create an annual budget and give you a stable base on which to build your new business.

At this stage you need to think about the business savings account you’re going to open for those all important funds. Choosing to set up a business account allows you to choose from a variety of fixed rate and flexible access business savings accounts to match your personal requirements.

2. Small business insurance is a must

You should never go into business without first making sure you’re properly insured. Small business insurance is suitable for all types of mini and micro businesses, whether it’s a home business, sole trader or partnership. You must become well versed in what insurance you need and get it in place before you start.

3. Inform the Inland Revenue

For tax purposes you must inform the Inland Revenue within three months of forming your own business.

4. Remember the Data Protection Act

If you intend to hold data about customers or prospects, you must register with the Information Commissioner in order to not fall foul of the Data Protection Act. This is easy to do and only costs £35.

5. How you’ll structure your business

There are various ways to structure your business – sole trader, partnership, limited liability partnership (LLP), limited company, PLC.  Sole trader is the most common for a small business, but you must decide which is most appropriate for you.

6. National Insurance Contributions

You must check how much you’ll be required to pay for National Insurance contributions.

7. How you’ll market it

Many great business ideas never see the light of day due to poor marketing. You must decide which kind of marketing you’ll need – a web presence, direct mail, employing direct sales people. This should form a vital piece of your business plan.

8. Be aware of any regulations

Many small businesses involve selling online. This is termed ‘distance selling’ and is covered by the Distance Selling Regulations. It is essential you are familiar with this, if you choose to trade online.

9. Get your terms and conditions in place

If you are providing a service or goods to your customers it’s very important to have terms and conditions of sale in place – acting as the contract between you and the customer.

10. Have a contingency fund in place

Cash flow is integral to any new business, so you should never spend all the money you make. Always try and keep a contingency fund in place, set up a business account as you should always expect the unexpected; like an opportunity for cheap advertising, or for quarterly tax returns or needing to replace an important piece of equipment.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Hurdles In Starting A New Company From Scratch

I’ve always been amused by the Seinfeld episode where Jerry attempts to ‘help’ Babu, the owner of a restaurant near his apartment building, who is not having any luck attracting customers.  Despite Jerry’s goodwill, his attempt at helping is, of course, met with disastrous results, and eventually the restaurant is closed and Babu is left penniless.  He also inadvertently causes Babu’s deportation in a later episode, which is also quite funny, but I digress.

I have never really had that entrepreneurial spirit, where it’s been attractive to me to own my own business or go out on my own.  I respect the heck out of those who have.  My uncle ran a successful gift and collectibles store for almost two decades (which also supplied me my first job).  Fellow bloggers have quit their job to write and provide blogging services full time.

To them, I say, that’s awesome.

So why have I never taken that leap?

I think the main worry is I would be afraid of putting a bunch of work in, getting everything just right, open the doors, and then have nothing happen.  Nobody show up.  Nobody browsing whatever it is I’m selling.  Nobody telling their friends.  Of course all leading to: No Sales.

I’ve always wondered how people get over that initial hump and have come up with a few thoughts on things that business owners likely do to generate those first sales:

  • Have contacts in the industry – If you’re already in the industry that you’re entering, you likely have contacts.  You often have to tread carefully and not be accused of stealing customers from former employers, but you can often use your existing contacts to build a base.
  • Advertise – This requires a lot of up front money, and often money is scarce anyways with associated costs of starting many businesses, but getting the word out can be achieved by targeting your desired customers.  One challenge is using the right medium and getting noticed by the right people.
  • Paying for customers – OK, you don’t actually pay for customers, but you can pay for leads.  A construction company looking to target the commercial sector can use companies dedicated to the process of finding leads that can then be targeted for potential sales.
  • Discounting – This can be combined with any of the above  methods to lure customers in and give them the opportunity to see what you’re all about.  If you prove yourself as worthy, you can often use this to build a long term relationship.  The biggest challenge here is retaining customers at a higher price once they’re hooked in.  You also have to make sure your discounts don’t put you right out of business, as many deal-of-the-day participants have learned the hard way.

So, I might have answered my own question about how to go about getting customers in, or at least methods which can help attract those first customers.  Still, these aren’t surefire ways and you have to make sure to approach each one carefully, making sure to understand your marketplace, your desired customers, and how to make adjustments along the way.

No wonder business owners are so darn busy!  That’s a lot to take in.

Have you started your own company?  How did you generate your first customers?

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Why Small Businesses Need To Take Control Of Their Web Presence

The Internet has revolutionized the marketplace for small businesses. With a vast potential audience, small businesses can utilize different tools to grow their businesses rapidly online.

A shocking two in three UK start-ups fail within their first year.  With this in mind, it is important to ensure that your business’s online presence is properly maintained.  This is crucial to success, especially if you don’t want to become another negative statistic. A 2011 study undertaken by marketing company Tealeaf in conjunction with Econsultancy found that companies are missing out on millions, if not billions of pounds in lost revenue due to poor websites.

“A poor online user experience, coupled with a lack of visibility and understanding, translates into a significant amount of lost revenue,” commented Geoff Galat, CMO of Tealeaf about the study.*

Companies need to take control of their online activity in order to ensure that they stay one step ahead of the market. The internet is in a constant state of flux and businesses need to adapt their online presence accordingly if they are to get ahead.

There are a number of things that a business making the jump online needs to consider. For a start, you will need to establish a dependable, well-built website, which is backed up by a technically capable workforce. The loss of either should be covered by insurance. Specialist business insurers can help inform small businesses about the risks involved in operating online.

Of course, the obstacle for businesses going online is competition. Getting ahead on the internet is a tough job. The pace of change is constant and businesses moving online need to remain on their toes. Below we take a look at what you may need to consider to get started online and what you need to think about when it comes to venturing in to social media.

A cut above the rest

For ultimate control of your business website, it can be a good idea to have somebody within your team with a thorough grasp of web design and coding. Equipped with a basic grasp of HTML, CSS and php you should be able to control the look of your website and to deal with basic user input and interaction.

Of course, if you do not have the resources to hire a permanent member of staff to run your website, there are numerous web design and hosting companies out there that can help get your website off the ground. If you do not want to pay a design company and have some basic online skills, or at least an aptitude to learn more, you could look at free self-publishing tools such as WordPress to get started.

Taking control of Social Media

Businesses need to create a constant presence online to have the greatest impact and one of the best ways to get started in this today is via social media.

The world of social media and online networking is familiar to most people. The growth of social networks has provided a tool of previously unimaginable marketing power for businesses of all sizes. With over 800 million active users now on Facebook, it is one of the world’s most sizeable platforms from which businesses can interact with key clients and customers. Taking Facebook by the reins should be top of the list for any business serious about making an impact online.

With over 340 million tweets posted daily, Twitter requires an amount of attention not far short of Facebook. It is easy for businesses with a weak knowledge of the workings of Twitter to find that their posts are buried and their profile ignored. Success on Twitter is all about the construction of carefully worded messages that give readers cause to pay attention, or even to re-tweet. It is also all about dialogue and engagement, all of which take time. It could therefore be a good idea to give at least one member of staff responsibility for monitoring and updating all of your company’s main social media profiles. To save time and manage effectively tools such as Hootsuite and Tweetdeck are great. These allow you to manage profiles from one main hub, as well as other tools such as scheduling updates.

For businesses keen to interact with the public via social media, it is advisable to acquire insurance cover. This could safeguard your business against any issues or damaging claims that could arise from using the online sphere to support and promote your business.

*Quote from http://econsultancy.com/uk/blog/7599-poor-online-experience-costing-business-billions)

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A Little Technology Provides Big Help for Your Business

Most people would agree we live in the age of technology, and most businesses can see major changes by incorporating a little of that technology into their business strategy. You can increase your profits by embracing the advantages offered by today’s technology whether it is in presentation, communication or accepting new methods of payment.

Communication

Technology can play a big role in the way you communicate with your clients, potential clients, contractors, vendors, manufacturing source and employees. There are many devices from laptops, tablets and smart phones that facilitate communication. There are also many features included with these tools that can allow you to organize and update all your contact information for better and smarter communication.

Presentation

Whether you have an e-commerce store or not, a website devoted to your business can be a great technological tool to build and expand your customer base while letting the world know all you have to offer. Advertising with TV ads or in newspapers will only reach a select and limited demographic area. However, a website has the potential of reaching millions of people. There are now over 400 million worldwide users that access social media sites on a regular basis. Having a website and marketing it strategically on social media sites is one of the best ways to use current technology to your advantage.

New Payment Options

With the recent boon in m-commerce, or the use of mobile money, businesses would do well to take note and start accepting digital transactions as it is expected to reach into an over trillion dollar industry by 2020. Accepting mobile money is as easy as having the right mobile device, an online merchant account, signing up with one of the mobile credit card processing services and downloading the appropriate application software. This allows you to accept mobile money no matter where you go and can increase your profits. This is a prime example of making technology work for you.

Technology Keeps You Relevant and Competitive

Having and using the latest technology sends the message that your business is doing well and is relevant. In today’s competitive business market, any edge you can over your competitor will work to your advantage. If you have a website and your competitor does not, you are much more likely to have a better percentage of new customers walking through your door. If you accept mobile money and your competitor does not, you are going to pick up those customers while your competitor cannot. If you are able to video conference with potential clients, contractors and employees and your competitor does not, you have given yourself a phenomenal edge that will show up on your bottom line.

Most technology does require a small initial investment, but there is a great chance you will see a large return on your investment. The best way to decide which technology will be of the greatest advantage is to sit down and analyze your specific business, your market, your clientele and your mode of operation. Find the technology that will help your business in a big way.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.