Ten Top Tips for a Successful Start
1. Write a business plan.
Many businesses seem to get by without a plan, and so might yours. On the other hand, preparing and presenting an effective business plan can make all the difference between success and failure. Besides being a great way of capturing the long-term objectives and financial goals for your business, your business plan can be used to demonstrate to prospective lenders, investors and customers that you have thought through your ideas and that they are dealing with a business which has good potential. It also gives you a benchmark to monitor your progress, so if something starts to go off track you can take prompt action to put it right.
2. Learn all you can about your chosen industry.
If you have never worked in your business sector before, get some work experience. Make sure you know the laws you need to comply with as there is a considerable amount of red tape to deal with. For example, talk to HM Revenue & Customs about tax issues before you start. If your industry has a trade association, it might be worth getting in touch to see if they can help you understand any special regulations you might need to comply with.
3. Understand everything you can about your customers.
Before you get started, it pays to talk to the people you’ll be looking to sell to. Unless your product or service is completely revolutionary, your customers will already be buying it from someone else. By communicating with them, it will help you to understand what might make them buy from you instead.
4. Listen to advice.
As well as advisors at Lloyds TSB Commercial, there are lots of sources you can get guidance from. Talk to people who’ll be honest about your business idea and listen to what they say.
5. Dip your toe in the water first.
It’s possible to run many businesses on a part-time basis from home. An effective way to see if your business idea is viable is to stay in full-time employment, while managing your business in the evenings and at weekends. This will allow you to check if your idea is viable before taking the big step of losing your regular income. Even if you are just ‘trying out’ your business, open a business account as soon as possible – it will help in the long run to keep both your personal and business accounts separate.
6. Keep money in reserve and keep costs down at the outset.
Keep expenditure down as much as possible when starting up. Do you really need new premises or could you work from a spare room in your house? Don’t plough every penny you have into the business unless you have absolutely no choice. No matter how well you plan, most people find they need a bit more money for something after a few months.
7. Make use of free publicity and networking.
It’s easy to waste money on ineffective marketing, so think hard about anything you spend. Word of mouth is often the best form of advertising, so something as simple as asking satisfied customers to tell their friends about you can have a big impact. And learn to network – talk to as many people as you can about your business. You never know where those conversations might lead.
8. Set up books and records as soon as possible.
It can cost a lot of money to have an accountant sort out messy records further down the line, so get bookkeeping systems set up properly before you start trading. Make sure you keep all business receipts – even from before you start trading if they relate to your business – you might be able to use them to offset tax. Having a good bookkeeping system will also mean you can keep track of your business progress from day one.
9. Prepare your support network.
Starting a business is hard work. You’re going to need to devote a lot of time to it for at least the first year and probably well beyond that. Make sure those closest to you understand the size of the task and the sacrifices you’ll need to make to ensure your business is a success.
10. Be resilient, adapt and change.
There will be times in the first few months when things don’t go your way. Maybe you will lose an important order, or an employee will let you down. Whatever that may be, learn from it and keep going. Be prepared to adapt. One great advantage for start-up businesses is that they can evolve and change direction much faster than larger more established ones. Be prepared to refine your business plan if the right opportunity presents itself.
This Ten Top Tips for a Successful Start business advice article published in association with Lloyds TSB.
Whether you are looking to start-up a business account or want to move your existing business account Lloyds TSB can offer you all the Business Banking support you need
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