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Start Up WIP

Ten Steps to Starting a Business

Step 1 - Have an idea 

Every business starts with a single idea

Step 2 - Research your idea

Once you have your idea you need to thoroughly research it to ensure that it is viable and you can make a living by pursuing it.

Step 3 - Write the business plan

The business plan is where you gather all your thoughts together in such a way that it can easily be understood by you and others.

Step 4 – Decide on your business structure

The business structure that you choose will define your responsibilities and how you go about registering your company with Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs for paying tax and National Insurance.

Step 5 - Getting the funding

Most businesses require finance when starting up to fund premises, machinery, equipment, stock , parts, employees, advertising and day to day expenses like stationary, bills and fuel.

Step 6 - Finding premises

Finding the right business premises in the right location is a key step in starting or expanding a business.

Step 7 - Finding suppliers

Selecting the right suppliers is essential to ensure you are able to deliver your products and services on time, at the right price.  

Step 8 - Statutory regulations

All businesses need to comply with local and national statutory regulations. 

Step 9 - Employing staff

Recruiting the right people is a key part of being an employer.

Step 10 - Route to Market

Marketing is a multi-disciplined area that comprises: applied common sense, psychology, research, analytics and creativity.

 

Useful links:

Growth Hub providers – help with starting a business.

Open University – The OU runs a free, 15 hour course aimed at anyone looking to start their own business.

Business is GREAT Britain - a good starting place whether you’re looking to set up a business or you need help in making your business grow.

SETsquared - a partnership between the universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey specialising in growing high-tech start-ups.

Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales - provide a series of free downloadable documents aimed specifically at start-ups.

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs - have compiled a useful guide packed with information and advice for those in the pre-start up or start-up phase of business.

GOV.UK - provides online information and guidance on starting a business.

Business Finance Guide – a useful guide covering all aspects of business including advice on starting a business and funding.

Start Up Loans - offer government backed funding to enable you to get your business idea off the ground.

Business West Virgin Start Up Loans - Your business may be eligible for Business West’s start up loan scheme in partnership with Virgin Start Up.

British Business Bank - publishes a useful guide to finance options for start ups, SMEs and growing mid-sized companies.

Contact us:

Growth Hub engagement officers can offer you up to 12 hours free advice and assistance. If you would like to speak to someone regarding starting your own business, email your contact details to: wearegrowth@westofengland-ca.gov.uk or call ??????????

 

Starting a Business Step 1 - Have an idea.

Whether your idea is for a product or service, you should ask yourself the following questions 

Gather your thoughts together and write them down. Discuss your ideas with friends and family and get their input. Refine your idea until your happy with it.

Useful links:

Growth Hub providers – help with starting a business.

Open University – The OU runs a free, 15 hour course aimed at anyone looking to start their own business.

Business is GREAT Britain - a good starting place whether you’re looking to set up a business or you need help in making your business grow.

SETsquared - a partnership between the universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey specialising in growing high-tech start-ups.

Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales - provide a series of free downloadable documents aimed specifically at start-ups.

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs - have compiled a useful guide packed with information and advice for those in the pre-start up or start-up phase of business.

GOV.UK - provides online information and guidance on starting a business.

Business Finance Guide – a useful guide covering all aspects of business including advice on starting a business and funding.

Start Up Loans - offer government backed funding to enable you to get your business idea off the ground.

Business West Virgin Start Up Loans - Your business may be eligible for Business West’s start up loan scheme in partnership with Virgin Start Up.

British Business Bank - publishes a useful guide to finance options for start ups, SMEs and growing mid-sized companies.

Contact us:

Growth Hub engagement officers can offer you up to 12 hours free advice and assistance. If you would like to speak to someone regarding starting your own business, email your contact details to: wearegrowth@westofengland-ca.gov.uk or call ??????????

 

 

Starting a Business Step 2 - Market Research

Market research enables you to test your idea to ensure that people want buy your products or service and that you can make a living out of providing it. It is essential for understanding the market in which you are about to compete.The following headings will help guide your thought processes and keep your research on track.

USP

The unique selling point is what will set you apart from your competitors. It could be product, price, quality or service; or a combination. What makes your product or service different and stand out from the crowd? 

Customers

It is essential to know exactly who you are selling to. It is very probable that you will be selling to more than one type of customer.

Prices

You need to know what prices customers are willing to pay so that you can create your pricing structure.

Competitors

By finding out what your competitors are doing, you can challenge them on price and service.

Product

It is essential to find out what potential customers think of your product. 

If you are developing a product:

You can find out more about developing a product here

Tips

Market research is not something that you do just once. You need to make changes and adapt your ideas based on the feedback and then research your amended idea. Continue to the process of adapting and researching until you are entirely happy. 

The following video from the Business Support Helpline offers lots of useful advice.

Useful Links:

Growth Hub providers – help with market research

Contact us:

Growth Hub engagement officers can offer you up to 12 hours free advice and assistance. If you would like to speak to someone regarding market research, email your contact details to: wearegrowth@westofengland-ca.gov.uk or call ??????????

 

 

Starting a Business Step 3 - Creating a business plan

Once you have done your market research it's time to get everything down on paper. The business plan is a way of clarifying your thoughts, spotting potential problems, setting out your goals and measuring your progress in a way that can be easily communicated. Your business plan should be constructed in such a way that it can be quickly and easily updated.

Below are a few headings that will help you formulate your ideas. The complexity and detail that you include will depends on your particular business. In the Useful Links section you'll find websites where you can download Business Plan templates.

Details and Vision

This section should include:

Aims

This section should include:

When stating what you wish to achieve, make the targets measurable so that you can assess your business performance. You can find out more about creating measurable SMART targets here.

Market Research

This section should include:

You can find help on researching your market here.

Sales & Marketing

This section should include:

Finance

This section should include:

The easiest way to show this information is on a spreadsheet. Create one for your first year. On it include all your costs (including: stock, premises, equipment, materials, transport, staff and insurances) along with your monthly predictions of sales based on your market research. By using a spreadsheet you will get a good idea of when your business is likely to break even. Also by plotting your costs and sales monthly, you will be able to see your cashflow and identify the parts of the year where you will need more finance.

There is more information on obtaining finance here.

Executive Summary

Although this is the last part of the business plan to be completed it is actually the first part of your business plan. It briefly summarises what is contained within the business plan.

This section should include:

The Executive Summary should be brief, straightforward and complicated. it should be written in a way that will entice and excite the reader so that they will want to read the full business plan and find out more.

The following video from GOV.UK gives more detail to the information above. 

Useful Links:

Growth Hub providers – help with creating a business plan

Business is GREAT Britain - offers guidance on how to write a business plan along with tools and templates designed to ensure you consider all aspects of your business.

Start Up Donut - provides information on how to write a business plan.

The Prince's Trust - produce a selection of business plan templates.

Contact us:

Growth Hub engagement officers can offer you up to 12 hours free advice and assistance. If you would like to speak to someone regarding writing a business plan, email your contact details to: wearegrowth@westofengland-ca.gov.uk or call ??????????

 

Starting a Business Step 4 - Choosing a business structure

You must choose a structure for your business. This structure will define your legal responsibilities which include:

You can change your business structure at any time if a different structure suits your business needs better. The links below offer a guide to the three main types structure and detail how to register your business with Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs to ensure you pay the correct level of taxation.

Sole Trader – people working for themselves.

Limited Company – an organisation you set up to run your business.

Business Partnership – where you share responsibilities with others.

There are other forms of business structure that are not so common. These include:

Useful links:

Growth Hub providers – help with choosing your business structure.

Contact us:

Growth Hub engagement officers can offer you up to 12 hours free advice and assistance. If you would like to speak to someone regarding which structure is right for your business, email your contact details to: wearegrowth@westofengland-ca.gov.uk or call ??????????

 

Starting a Business Step 5 - Finance

Most businesses require finance when starting up to fund premises, machinery, equipment, stock , parts, employees, advertising and day to day expenses like stationary, bills and fuel.

Types of finance

Short term - to cover things like buying stock or keeping things ticking over during the first few months. These include:

Medium term (typically 3-5 years) - to cover capital expenses such a machinery or vehicles. These include:

Long term (typically over 5 years) - to cover major expenses like premises. These include:

Establish the need for finance

Ask yourself the following questions.

The answers to these questions will guide what sort of finance you need.

Where to obtain finance

As well as banks, there are many alternative ways of raising money to finance your business. To find out more click here.

Before applying for finance, ensure your business plan and monthly management accounts (if you have any) are up to date with relevant management information.

There is a strong probability that you will need a combination of financing streams to achieve what your business needs.

Seek an adviser, mentor or coach to review strategic options and support throughout the funding process.

Below in the Useful Links section you'll find a link to Growth Hub Providers who can advise you on funding along with links to other organisations that can help fund your business.

The video below from the Business Support Helpline will help you decide on what kind of finance is right for your business.

Due diligence, secure funding and on-going review

Funders are likely to test and review the key assumptions of your business plan and forecasts to assess risk of repayment.

If your application is declined, request feedback, seek advice and review your business objectives before resubmitting.

Once secured, on-going review of financial performance is required to ensure compliance with key terms and conditions of the funding.

The video below from Innovate UK offers good advice on how to pitch your business to investors.

Useful Links:

Growth Hub providers – help on obtaining funding.

Growth Hub - different types of alternative funding.

Business Finance Guide – a useful guide covering all aspects of business including advice on starting a business and funding.

Start Up Loans - offer government backed funding to enable you to get your business idea off the ground.

Business West Virgin Start Up Loans - Support for your business is crucial. Your business may be eligible for Business West’s start up loan scheme in partnership with Virgin Start Up.

British Business Bank - publishes a useful guide to finance options for start ups, SMEs and growing mid-sized companies.

Good Finance – provides individuals, businesses, charities and social enterprises with information to enable them to find a funding and loans from a CDFI (community development finance institutions).

Mentor SME – offers businesses access to a list of quality-assured business mentoring organisations across Britain.

Business Banking Insight – offers a helpful comparison of a range of services offered by different finance providers.

Innovate UK - offer support if you need to invest in the development and research of new technologies to support your business to grow.

 

Contact us:

Growth Hub engagement officers can offer you up to 12 hours free advice and assistance. If you would like to speak to someone regarding financing your business, email your contact details to: wearegrowth@westofengland-ca.gov.uk or call ??????????

 

 

Starting a Business Step 6 - Premises

 

Finding the right business premises in the right location is a key step in starting or expanding a business.

Identify your needs

The following questions will help formulate your thoughts.

Location:

Size:

Consider your priorities, what is essential and what is desirable.

Finding a property

The video below from GOV.UK contains a lot of essential information regarding finding the right property.

Tips

Rent or Buy?

The video below from GOV.UK explains the pros and cons of renting and buying. 

Useful links:

Growth Hub providers – help with finding premises.

The RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) – provide property guides aimed at small businesses with information about buying, leasing, maintaining or extending business premises.

Property Link - the UK's commercial property listings site.

Contact us:

Growth Hub engagement officers can offer you up to 12 hours free advice and assistance. If you would like to speak to someone with regard to finding the right premises for your business, email your contact details to: wearegrowth@westofengland-ca.gov.uk or call ??????????

 

 

Starting a Business Step 7 - Suppliers

Selecting the right suppliers is essential to ensure you are able to deliver your products and services on time, at the right price.  

Identify your needs.

The reputation of your business is based on the quality of products or services that you deliver to your customers. Consistency is key. Getting your suppliers wrong could have catastrophic effects on your business as customers will blame you, not them, if you let them down with faulty goods or late deliveries.

The lowest price is not always the best value for money as you may have to sacrifice price for quality and reliability.

For each of your suppliers, consider the following and prioritise what is important to you:

Listing your needs allows you to compare different suppliers against your requirements.

Get quotations

Draw up a shortlist of suppliers. You can find potential suppliers from a variety of sources including the internet, recommendations, trade shows and the trade press.

Contact the companies on your shortlist and ask them for a quotation. Include the full details of the products or services you need along with quantities, delivery dates and any quality standards required. Ask potential suppliers why you should be deal with them

Comparisons

Check to ensure the quotations meet all your requirements and can deliver what you want when you want it.

Score each quotation against your priorities weighting the score accordingly to how important it is.

Check the contract obligations to ensure they are fair to your business.

Check to see if the supplier is financially secure and can fulfil any orders.

Ask for references if you have any doubts about a potential supplier.

Check to see if your supplier is outsourcing and, if so, how they are guaranteeing consistency of supply.

If possible meet suppliers face-to-face at their premises to see how they operate.

Negotiating

Once you have decided on your chosen suppliers, negotiate terms with them before signing any order.

Before any negotiations go back to your criteria and decide what, if anything, you are willing to compromise on. Decide on what you are happy with and the points you wish to discuss. Seek a concession from your supplier for every concession you are prepared to make

Don’t compromise too early. You are looking to get the best deal you can and once agreed it is difficult to go back and renegotiate.

Never accept the first offer. Always make a counter offer and let the supplier decide to decline or offer you a revised price. You can always accept the original offer later if the supplier is unwilling to compromise.

If the supplier is unwilling to compromise on price, ask if there is anything else they can offer.

Ask if there are any discounts for bulk purchases or early payments.

Look to achieve a balance where both you and your supplier are happy with the deal. If the price agreed is too low then you may suffer from poor quality or reduced customer service as the supplier seeks to cut costs.

Once you have agreed the deal, write up the main points and send them to the supplier to ensure there is no miscommunication.

Service Level Agreements

Where supplies are critical, it may be worth drawing up a service level agreement. A service level agreement normally covers the following:

If you are asked to accept a supplier’s service level agreement, check to ensure that you are happy with all points. If you are not satisfied, ask to negotiate on points, but be prepared to walk away and find another supplier if all your concerns are not met.

Ongoing Relationships

Develop an open relationship with your suppliers so that you get to know their business and they feel confident enough to warn you of difficulties before they turn into problems.

Regularly review supplier performance to ensure that they are still delivering as promised.

Keep an eye on other suppliers and ask to renegotiate if you can get a better deal elsewhere.

If your business is important to a supplier, they will work harder to keep it.

Keep a record of when things go wrong as this will help in any disputes

Ensure you have direct contact numbers and email addresses should things go wrong.

Order and pay in good time to build confidence.

Contact us:

Growth Hub engagement officers can offer you up to 12 hours free advice and assistance. If you would like to speak to someone with regard to finding the right suppliers for your business, email your contact details to: wearegrowth@westofengland-ca.gov.uk or call ??????????

 

 

Starting a Business Step 8 - Statutory Regulations

All businesses need to comply with local and national statutory regulations. These apply to the following areas:

By clicking on the links above you will be taken to Better Business for All (BBfA) service pages on the Growth Hub. Here you will find all the information you need to ensure your business is compliant.

Better Business for All

BBfA is part of a national government initiative to reduce the regulatory burden on business by: building a relationship between business and regulators; highlighting the benefits of regulations; and encouraging more businesses to seek advice without fear of enforcement activity. In building such a partnership, a better way of working can be established, based on trust, which is mutually beneficial to all.

Better Business for All seeks to:

Better Business for All recognises that businesses that comply with regulations can be at a commercial disadvantage if a rigorous enforcement approach is not taken with non-compliant businesses. It is important that regulators are consistent and continue to take enforcement action when necessary in a fair and transparent way. This ensures both a level playing field for businesses as well as public protection.

Useful links:

Better Business for All - details regarding how BBfA works

 

Contact us:

Growth Hub engagement officers can offer you up to 12 hours free advice and assistance. If you would like to speak to someone with regard to statutory regulations, email your contact details to: wearegrowth@westofengland-ca.gov.uk or call ??????????

 

 

Starting a Business Step 9 - Employing People

Recruiting the right people is a key part of being an employer. Once you have the right people in the right positions it's also important to keep them.

Establish the need for an employee

Take a look at your business and decide in advance what staff you are going to need and when. Take into consideration whether the positions would be short or long term depending on whether the work flow is seasonal or constant.

Flexible working, staggered hours or overtime could be an effective short-term solution.

Check to see what your competitors are doing.

Consider how much you would have to pay them and whether the business can afford it.

The right person

Create a job description that includes:

Create a personal specification of who you would like to recruit that includes:

The personal specification should detail what aspects are essential and which are desirable.

Advertise

Advertise the position as widely as possible using job centres, libraries, local newspapers, recruitment agencies, recruitment websites and social media.

Send applicants a copy of the job description and personal specification. Creating an application form to send to applicants is a good way of standardising the process that will not only make it easier to sift through the applicants, but will give you a basis to ask questions at interview.

Sift the candidates who best match the job description and personal specification bearing in mind the essential and desirable criteria.

Interview

Where possible interviews should be conducted by more than one person and in an environment free of distractions.

Prepare a list of open ended questions before the interview that explores the candidate’s skills and experience.

Do not ask questions that could be considered discriminatory. You must not discriminate on grounds of sex, race, disability, age, sexual orientation or religion during any part of the recruitment process.

Check that the candidate has authorisation to work in the UK as it is a criminal offence to employ someone who doesn’t.

Keep all notes from the interviews to help you make your final selection. These will also help give reasons to rejected candidates you should they ask.

Make an offer

Once you've decided who you want, send out a job offer letter. The job letter should include:

Remember, you are now on the verge of entering into an employment contract, a legal arrangement. It should set out:

Legal requirements

You must pay someone at least the minimum wage.

Apply for a DBS check (formerly known as a CRB check) if you work in a field that requires one, e.g. with vulnerable people, children or security.

Get Employers Liability Insurance - you will need this as soon as you become an employer.  Click here for more details.

A Written Statement of Employment Terms and Conditions must be given to the employee within two months of them starting work.

Tell HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) by registering as an employer - you can do this up to 4 weeks before you pay your new staff.  

Tax and national insurance

The video below from HMRC explains an employer's responsibilities for tax and national insurance.

Types of contract

As an employer, the tax and employment responsibilities you have for your staff will depend on the type of contract you give them and their employment status. Click on the links below for more information.

Employee Development

Helping employees to develop their skills is a key part of retaining them within your business and getting the most out of them. This can be done through:

Annual performance reviews (appraisals) - to discuss the employee’s development and performance. It involves reviewing the last period and setting a plan of action going forward.

Coaching - helps to motivate and develop your employees to achieve their personal and professional goals while ensuring everyone is working towards maximising  the potential of the business.

Feedback - a continual process to ensure employees stay are on track to achieve their goals.

SMART goals - to help employees achieve any required outcomes within a specified amount of time.

Useful links:

Gov.uk - more detailed information on how to employ staff.

Business is Great - lots of useful information regarding employing staff.

Growth Hub Services - advice on all aspects of recruiting

Growth Hub Page - for more details regarding apprenticeships.

Contact us:

Growth Hub engagement officers can offer you up to 12 hours free advice and assistance. If you would like to speak to someone regarding employing staff, email your contact details to: wearegrowth@westofengland-ca.gov.uk or call ??????????

 

Starting a Business Step 10 - The Route to Market

Marketing is a multi-disciplined area that comprises: applied common sense, psychology, research, analytics and creativity. It is a complex area that impacts and shapes every part of your business. Get your marketing right and your business will thrive, get it wrong and you may no longer have a business.

Every business is unique and therefore all marketing strategies differ. There are however a few general guiding principles that can be applied to every business.

Be S P E CI A L

S is for Simplicity, the key to good marketing. If your marketing plan looks complicated then simplify it. It should be easy to understand and achieve. Once you have achieved your goals write another marketing plan to take you to the next level.

P is for Presentation, which should never be underestimated. Don’t miss an opportunity to present yourself well. Everything you do reflects your company and will either positively or negatively affect a customer’s perception. First impressions are what gets customers through the door. Last impressions determine whether or not they will come back again. Reputation can take a lifetime to build and can be destroyed in seconds.

E is for Experimenting with your marketing. Just because something has worked in the past doesn’t necessarily mean it will work in the future. Be brave. If a marketing idea doesn’t work, keep trying something else until you find something that does. Then keep experimenting to stop your marketing becoming stale.

C is for Consistency requiring you to know your marketing plan and stick to it. Don't give into the temptation to spend money on every good campaign idea that comes along because it ‘feels’ right. Before you spend a penny of your hard earned cash, ensure that any campaign meets the objectives set out in your marketing plan. Don’t invest in frivolous activities that will take take your eyes off the ball.

I is for Investing a few minutes every day to market your business. Get into the habit of marketing routinely. Customers go where they are welcomed. All too often businesses neglect to send out the invitations and then complain they don’t have enough customers.

A is for Avoiding people that don’t want your products. Don’t waste time and money trying to promote your product to people who will never want them.

L is for the Loyalty that keeps your customers coming back. Know why you are special to your customers. Your customers come to you for a reason. Find out what that reason is and remind them again and again. Then tell the world.

Marketing Plan

Before you start marketing you should create a marketing plan to help organise your thoughts and keep your marketing on track. Click here for help on developing a marketing plan.

Market Research

It is essential that you know your customers and the environment into which you will be selling your products and services. Click here for more information .

Useful Links:

Growth Hub Providers - Help with marketing your business

Marketing Donut- Marketing Donut provides lots of advice on all aspects of marketing.

Contact Us: