So, you’ve decided to do it. To take that business idea you’ve had in your brain – and which you’re convinced is a total winner – and actually make it a reality.
Here is our checklist of things you should make sure to be on top of as you take your first steps into exciting, scary, wonderful world of business ownership.
1. Is Your Good Idea Really That Good?
There are plenty self-described inventors and entrepreneurs out there, unfortunately, tangible success is not a prerequisite of either of those titles. Ask what the unique selling points (USPs) of your idea are. Can’t think of more than two? Chances are the buying public won’t be able to, either.
The ultimate question should simply be: ‘Will people pay for this?’ If you find yourself unconvinced, then perhaps risking it all and starting a business based on your concept isn’t the best idea.
2. Write Your Business Plan
Business plans are vital for the admin side of your business. You’ll need it on hand for when you turn to banks or investors. You need to know your concept, the future of it and what it will take to get it there better than anyone. You’ll also need a strong understanding of the money it will demand, from the cost of business rates to keeping the lights on.
3. What Sort of Business Will You Be?
The UK has three business types for aspiring business-owners to choose from.
Sole traders are the simplest businesses to run, you’ll be classed as self-employed and you’ll not need to worry about business bank accounts or any formal tax admin.
Business Partnerships are similar to sole traders but feature multiple owners, either individuals or businesses. Partnerships will require a bit more formal paperwork and financial admin.
Limited Companies will require the most legal work before you’re formally recognised as a business, including registering your business, appointing a secretary and registering a business name.
Please keep in mind that this article is for educational purposes only. You should talk with your accountant, business advisor or solicitor to make sure you’re opting for the right business structure for you.
4. Register Your Business
You need to make sure your business’ activity is registered and recorded. Sole traders are not required to be registered as a company, but you will need to make sure you are recognised as self-employed by HMRC and register for VAT when your turnover reaches £85,000. Partnerships, and limited companies especially, will require more admin. In the case of limited companies, you’ll not be up and running in the eyes of the law until Companies House says you are.
As mentioned above, you should talk with your accountant, business advisor or solicitor to make sure you are correctly registering your business.
Learn more about different business structures with our handy guide on how to register a business in the UK.
5. Have Your Bank Accounts in Order
If you’re a partnership or limited company then you will be required to have a separate business bank account, but sole traders should consider one too. Shop around and make sure the provider you opt for will give you everything you need to help your new business flourish.
Get up to speed with what is involved with finding, opening and using a business bank account with our guide here.
6. Invest in the Right Tech
Here’s where you can start getting your mitts on the actual tech that will let your business run smoothly. Accounting is where many new businesses can trip up and technology can work wonders for tracking your sales, stock, invoices and performance. So it’s pretty good that you can do it all out of your Square dashboard, and with our friendly app partners.
Tech also makes a powerful impression on your customers. Having to turn a customer away because of teething problems with your point of sale can be a poor experience (for you both!). The Square Reader is a stylish, easy way to make sure your customers will always be able to pay. Slick technology lets your new-found customers know that while your business may be in its infancy, your levels of service definitely aren’t.
7. Get Online
Omnichannel is the future, so you should make sure you can offer your customers as many ways as possible to access, discover and purchase your products and services. A business website is an essential tool for any modern company.
You also need your website to display correctly on any mobile devices your potential customers own. So when you make your own business website make sure you view it just like you would your shop floor. Is it offering customers everything they need - social media links or Instagram feeds included? If you’re offering e-commerce options, make sure your product pages are always up-to-date to prevent cart abandonment.
8. Service, Please
While your tech may be at the top of its game, you need to make sure that the people you employ are going to match these high levels. Training can go a long way when it comes to getting a top-notch public-facing team who can get customers through the door again and again.
9. Serve Your Staff
As much as you need your team to know their duties to their customers and your brand, you should also remember your duties to your staff - things like the workplace pension, helping them through the onboarding process and making sure you manage your team in a fair and friendly way.
10. Let Word Spread
You’re ready to dance to the tune of a busy cash till (or card reader) so let’s make sure your hard work is rewarded. The power of social media should never be overlooked. It’s powerful, it’s wide-spread and it’s completely free, so there is no reason you should not be harnessing the power of Facebook, twitter or Instagram to get your name out there.
Offering digital receipts is a great way to get customer email addresses on the books for newsletters and email marketing, and with Square they provide a direct line of communication to ensure great customer service.