NEW YEAR, NEW BUSINESS?
Many people regard January as a time to make fresh beginnings, and that can include starting your own business. Here, leading virtual office solutions and office space company Basepoint looks at the first steps to take
If you’ve been vaguely dreaming of becoming an entrepreneur, you’re in good company, with up to 600,000 new small companies being set up in the UK each year. But how do you go about turning that business dream into a business reality?
Develop a Business Idea
This is a vital first step for any would-be entrepreneur. You need to decide exactly what type of business you want to run and find unique selling points to persuade people to buy from you rather than from your rivals.
All this is not just a case of having an original idea but also of developing it properly and carrying out market research to find out what demand exists. The National Enterprise Network can help to develop business ideas, with members across the country prepared to offer advice.
Explore Sources of Funding
Some new businesses don’t require a lot of initial outlay, for instance if you are running a venture in your spare time while continuing with your “day job”. However, often funding is necessary to get a business up and running. So how do you go about finding it?
There are various government and official schemes available, including the Start Up Loans scheme, which operates via delivery partner organisations across the UK. To be eligible, you must be over 18, while the Prince’s Trust also runs an Enterprise Programme aimed at those aged from 18 to 30.
A further possibility is to apply for a bank loan, and another is to approach “business angels” – people who invest in small businesses. The range of options can be confusing, but the Better Business Finance website offers a central point to explore sources of funding. Wherever you decide to apply for investment, drawing up a realistic business plan is vital, and a mentor can help you to do this.
Find the Right Name and Logo and Build Your Website
What’s in a name? When it comes to setting up a new business, the answer is, plenty. You need to find a strong and catchy name which expresses what the business offers and can be encapsulated in a memorable logo.
It’s important to make sure your name isn’t too similar to that of any competitor, since this could mean both confusion and legal trouble. Also, once you have decided on your name and logo, it is advisable to register them as a trademark. It may also be possible to get intellectual property protection for inventions and product designs.
While a name and logo are essential parts of branding, they are just the start. A professional-looking website is essential to all modern companies, not just digitally-based ones. You must ensure your site looks good and is user-friendly, and could also consider creating a social media presence for your new brand.
Don’t Forget the Red Tape
There are various legal hurdles to jump when setting up a new company. First off, you have to decide whether to register as a sole trader or form a partnership or other type of company. The Gov.uk website offers advice on the different types of legal company set-up which are available.
Once your company is up and running, you need to make sure you comply with all laws and regulations controlling your sector. For instance, keeping proper accounts and paying tax as and when due are both essential for all small businesses. You may also need to take out business insurance, while obeying data regulations and studying employment law, if you intend to employ staff, are other areas which mustn’t be overlooked.
Find the Right Location and Make Sure Clients Can Contact You
Many small businesses will initially operate from home, which is a cheap option but can cause problems. For instance, this type of set-up doesn’t look professional and means you don’t have a proper business address and may not have anywhere suitable to meet clients.
The best virtual office providers can help you to overcome these difficulties. As well as offering a telephone answering service and providing you with a business mail address, they may offer facilities you can use to meet your customers and contacts. If you are moving your new business into startup office space rather than working from home, it’s advisable to make sure you can take the space on flexible terms and aren’t tied up for a long time.
Basepoint is the ideal choice for both home-based and office-based businesses. Our virtual office solutions offer you a choice of packages, with a mail service and a local phone number and phone answering service if required, with the opportunity to meet clients in our breakout areas and hire serviced meeting rooms.
Small businesses taking on office space at our centres benefit from flexible contracts and great facilities, and if you start out using a virtual office service, you can easily move into one of our business centres, in 32 UK locations, later on.
Virtual Office Solutions – Click here to see Basepoint’s range of service options.