How to start a business in 6 steps – a start up guide

For new start up businesses, being a successful business owner is something many of us dream about. There’s no magic wand to turn that dream into reality, but here are steps you can take to build a framework for success.

The journey of starting your own business (a start up) will be challenging. Financially, mentally, emotionally, and physically. You’ll need to prepare yourself to work hard and have the right attitude to follow through.

There will likely be critics and setbacks that might make you reconsider everything. Keep your head on straight and push through the obstacles. Build a trustworthy team who rally for your success and don’t let anyone – or anything – get in the way of you and your dream.

That’s all for the pep talk. Now let’s get down to how to start a business in six steps:

Identify your “why”

Four pebbles displaying Dream, Inspire, Courage and HarmonyEveryone has a reason why they want to start a business. What’s yours? It’s a simple question, but people often lose sight of their mission. The answer will not only impact your drive, but it will make you check (and re-evaluate) the strategies to get you to where you want to be.

Ask yourself why you’re doing this and what purpose your business is means to serve.

For example, do you want to:

  • Make a positive impact in the world?
  • Make life easier for others?
  • Change the way things are done?
  • Be financially independent?

Knowing what motivates you will provide clarity. It’s also important to have a sense of flexibility, as your “why” may change and develop as your business gets more sophisticated.

Realise that there will never be a “right time”

We think about it, we wish for it, we tell ourselves we’re going to do it. What we really need is to say less and do more. There won’t be a perfect time for starting your own business, so why wait?

There are businesses that perform well with current trends, and it may seem like time is of the essence. To stay relevant, your business needs to be agile to maintain itself.

In March 2018 alone, over 40,000 new start up businesses were formed!

Write it down

Some of the greatest business plans started on scraps of paper. Grab a pen, go to a coffee shop and just start writing it all down. Think big and think different.

If you get stuck, use these questions to begin:

  • What is my business’ purpose?
  • Who will be my customers?
  • Who are my competitors?
  • Why will customers come to me instead of my competitors?
  • What products or services will I offer?
  • What to charge for my products or services?
  • How will my customers feel when doing business with me?
  • How will I decide who to hire and when?
  • What type of culture will my business have?
  • Where will my business be three years from now?

When you’re swimming in your thoughts, it can be difficult to determine priorities and define your business direction. But when you start jotting down your ideas on paper, things will start to feel more tangible.

Find someone successful to guide you through

Businessman sat at a deskMany successful entrepreneurs are willing to share their expertise and business-building experiences. They all began as start up businesses, and may be an invaluable tool.

You may not know them, don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and request mentorship from someone you admire.

Build a network of experts and trusted advisers, as they can make a world of difference when starting your own business.

Call upon entrepreneurial mentors and see if they can spare a quick chat. But first:

  • Do your research: Decide on the topics to cover, be prepared to ask tough questions and keep an open mind.
  • Outline what you want out of the meeting: Know the people you are talking to and their strengths. That way, you’ll know which way to steer your questions and maximise your time with them.
  • Be considerate: Understand that whomever you reached out to values time. Meet when and where is convenient for them – and always cover the bill. What you’ll be getting in return is worth a lot more.

These days, there are several ways to connect with business mentors. It doesn’t have to be a cold call. Look at the opportunities online and find a program or method that works best for you.

Work out the numbers

Accounting may or may not be your strong suit. When starting your own business in the UK, it’s necessary to have a solid grasp on the financials. To make sure you’re set up for success, you could:

Black calculator next to a set of financial informationHire an accountant or bookkeeper to manage your figures, submit your VAT returns and deal with your tax requirements and with HMRC for you.

Speak with business advisors, the local chambers of commerce that provide guidance. 

Whichever route you take, make sure that your accounting is properly set up from the start. The last thing you want to do is recover missing information or crawl through old receipts and invoices.

Get going, and start with this checklist

You’re getting close to launching your business. It’s time to get the details sorted – if you haven’t done so already. Here are some core things you’ll need to consider:

Register your business – Decide what structure you want your business to follow. Sole trader, limited company or partnership, this structure will define your legal responsibilities;

  • Sole traders and partnerships must register with HMRC.
  • Limited companies with Companies House (and let HMRC know when the company starts business activities

Set up payroll – Take care of your staff with timely payments. You may need to establish payroll even when not employing staff.

Develop your brand and logo. Online resources such as Fiverr or 99designs are great tools. Or you can go with a professional graphic designer or creative agency and collaborate with them to achieve what you’re after with your brand.

Build your website. Take this very seriously, because your website is essentially the face of your start up company. The website look and feel with determine how your business is perceived.

Market your product or services – think about what makes you unique and how people will learn about your start up business. Marketing is a vital component in attracting and retaining customers. Gather testimonials, research alternatives to paid marketing or take classes to get your business on the radar.