Five tips to start-up success

Take the time to plan and prepare, and your business will be more likely to succeed. Here are five key tips to get you started.

1. Plan

Start your business journey with a critical look at your ideas. Your business plan will be a key tool in communicating your ideas to potential suppliers, business partnerships or funding sources so you need to show you’ve thought through the essentials. Your plan will also serve as a benchmark to measure your progress against as your business grows. So, if things don’t go as you’ve planned, you can take steps to adjust them.

You can get help with writing your business plan here, and remember to keep reviewing it throughout your businesses lifecycle. As setting up your business can be a big adjustment to your life, don’t forget to diarise important administrative dates and think about how you will manage your time effectively too.

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2. Research

Five tips to start-up success

Not just insight into your market, but also the practicals like hiring an accountant and understanding your tax and legal obligations. Being proactive about the things you don’t know will help you feel informed and more confident to make important decisions.

Find out what might make a Unique Selling Point (USP) for your business in the market – you’ll likely have many competitors so how will you stand out from the crowd? For laws affecting your business visit the HMRC website for more information. It’s also worth checking if your industry has a trade association and asking them for guidance.

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3. Money matters

Get your business going whilst you’re still employed to make that financial jump easier. You may want to take a huge leap of faith, but a bit of security in paying the rent means one less thing to worry about at the start. Consider asking to go part-time in your current job and make the most of your evenings and weekends.

Spend as little of your money as possible when starting up. Keep your funds for future investment in your business when you can see how the numbers are looking. And don’t forget to benchmark against your competitors too - finding out as much as you can about their figures will guide your business performance expectations.

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4. Network

Word of mouth is still a very powerful tool, so get marketing with freebies and by spreading the word, even if you don’t feel fully set up yet. Talk to people and other businesses, host a launch event for potential suppliers and customers and print some business cards to get your contact details out there.

Don’t over-promise or act, just be professional and passionate about what you do, and be yourself. And make sure you ask people to recommend you to their families and friends. You may find you get customers and clients from networking – don’t hesitate to sign them up as customers straightaway.

Make yourself identifiable with a strong logo and brand identity, consistent across all your communication channels. And insight from your networking can feed back into your business plan development. Most people will struggle to go it alone, so have support in place from family members or find a mentor.

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5. Get online

Whether you’re selling products or services, a website is a must - but it doesn’t have to be perfect on first review. Just make sure it’s easy to navigate and simple to use for your customers. Give as many contact options to potential customers as you can.

There are plenty of free or cheaper Do It Yourself website building sites with some good guidance on how to make your site more visible online. And remember, being online can mean free publicity by using tools such as social media. Doing one or two channels brilliantly is always better than doing them all half-heartedly, so decide which social accounts you have the energy for and which best suit your business.

Using your website as an expert information source for your sector gives customers a reason to stay on your website too – think about value-added content, like blogs and articles. As your business grows, you may want to invest more in specialist website development, design and strategies such as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and making use of website analytics.

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