Starting a business can be one of the most exciting – and challenging – times of your life. Suddenly you’re immersed in a whole new world of business plans, financing, marketing and more – so it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
To help make the transition that little bit easier, we’ve outlined eight important questions to ask yourself before and during the early stages of establishing your business. Here are some of the key considerations to make to help decide if your business idea has legs, how to get started and where to get help along the way.
1. Is my idea going to work in the real world?
Before you get cracking on all the nitty-gritty, it’s time to sit down and consider whether your idea is a good one.
You might have had a business vision for years, but it’s important to weigh up whether it would work in a real-world setting. Start by researching information on the industry, doing some competitor analysis and scoping out potential customers.
Also do a SWOT analysis to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of your business idea.
2. What’s my secret ingredient?
Differentiating yourself from the competition is key to making a mark, so think about what you can offer to give your startup a competitive edge.
Your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) could be a tweak on an existing product, appealing to a niche market, a business promise (delivery in a day, for example) or anything else that sets you apart from the rest.
3. What will my support network look like?
No matter what kind of startup you’re undertaking, you won’t be able to go it alone.
Consider who you will be able to turn to for advice and support when you need it – this could include everyone from accountants and lawyers to friends and family.
The aim is to surround yourself with trusted and reliable advisers and mentors who can offer assistance at every turn as your business develops.
4. How much money do I need to get started?
Money makes the world go round, and the same goes for startups. Unexpected costs popping up is common for new businesses, so make sure to account for as many expenses as possible ahead of time so you can plan accordingly.
Your startup costing plan should account for expenses including but not limited to:
- Equipment costs
- Licensing and insurance costs
- Office space/warehouse/shop/storage costs
- Marketing costs
5. Who’s going to fund my startup?
Next, you’ll need to consider how you’re going to access funding. Depending on your business type and requirements, business funding could come from a lender such as a bank, an investor, or even through a crowdfunding campaign.
The Business Finance Guide is a great resource for figuring out which type of funding is most appropriate for your circumstances and how to secure it.
6. Do I need to quit my job yet?
Starting a business takes a lot of legwork, but it usually takes a significant financial investment as well.
If you can afford to keep your regular job while you test-run your business on the side, it can act as a financial buffer and a fallback if things don’t go according to plan or are slower to get going than expected.
Ideally, once your business has grown to the point of needing all your attention, it will be stable enough to support you financially as well.
7. What will my business structure be?
Think about how you plan to set up your business and what the tax implications are for each possibility (being a sole trader vs. a private limited company, for example).
Deciding on the business structure that best suits your startup depends on what it will do and how you plan to run it.
If you’re not sure which is the most appropriate option, head to the UK Government website to find out more about business structures in the UK.
8. Where will I set up shop?
Finding the right space to call your startup home is one of the most important steps in setting up a business.
Whether you’re looking for office space or a brick-and-mortar store, you’ll want to make sure you choose a spot where you’re well-connected with like-minded people and potential customers. After all, the person you sit near in a shared office could become one of your clients.