Starting Up Your Own Business: Overview and First Steps

Planning and organisation are crucial in the early stages of setting up a new business. You have a far higher chance of success if you take the time to prepare.

This section will guide you through:

  • The first steps of business planning
  • Who you need to inform about your new venture
  • How to make your mark

The first steps of business planning

Before you contemplate putting time, money and effort into a new enterprise, weigh up the pros and cons on a personal level.

Be clear about your goals, your strengths and weaknesses, and why you’d rather set up your own business than work for someone else. Ask yourself: Self-employment: is it right for you?

Do the market research

Successful businesses rely on knowledge of the market. Within your chosen field, consider what the market needs, then look at what you can do to meet that demand.

You can get a good overall picture of your market using surveys, researching what your competitors offer, and checking current research provided in specialist publications such as trade magazines or directories. You can also use the Internet to check current research on specialist websites and publications.

Position yourself within the market

Decide on your USP – Unique Selling Proposition (or Unique Selling Point). What makes your product or service better, faster and more cost-effective than those of your competitors? What can you do – or do better – than your competitors?

Write a business plan

The essence of a business plan is to prove the viability of your idea to yourself and others. It will identify where you are, where you want to be and what actions need to be taken in order for the plan to succeed.

Find out more about how to write a business plan.

Get your finances in order

The more detail you can bring to your financial planning, the better. To help you do this, there are a number of key questions you should ask:

  • What will your initial and ongoing costs be?
  • Do you have this money up front or will you need to borrow it?
  • How much money must you make each week and month to cover your personal and business expenses?
  • What will you charge for your products or services?

You will also need a book-keeping system to keep track of your income and outgoings on a daily basis. This will help you compare progress against your plan and improve the accuracy of your forecasting.

Your business premises

Deciding where you will work from is a key consideration, as it can impact on your start-up costs. Do you need to move into business premises or can you save time and money by setting up an office at home?

Working from home

You do not usually require planning permission to work from home if:

  • The character of your home is not materially altered.
  • Your business doesn’t become the primary purpose of the property.
  • You do not inconvenience the neighbours.

Read our guide to Working from home.

Moving into business premises

In the early stages, be cautious about renting a big property and entering long-term agreements. An alternative is serviced offices, which are comparatively expensive but offer greater flexibility.

Who you need to inform about your new venture

There are a number of organisations that need to be informed, whether you are launching a full-time or part-time business.

  • Your bank
    Keep your personal and business finances separate by opening a business account. Your bank’s business adviser can also be an invaluable source of information on starting up and growing your business. Read about Lloyds TSB accounts for start up businesses

  • Your insurers
    Working from home can invalidate your domestic policy and affect your life insurance. You may also need to take out additional business insurance. Read about Lloyds TSB Home Worker Essential Business Insurance

  • HM Revenue and Customs
    You must inform HMRC about your business for tax reasons. If you plan to import or export, you may also need to contact them to pay tariffs or to get permission for some types of international trading.

  • Companies House
    For the registration of limited companies and limited liability partnerships (LLP).

  • VAT
    Registration is required if your taxable turnover reaches or is likely to reach the VAT registration threshold.

  • Other public authorities
    You may be required to register with additional organisations if you work in a specialist area.

  • The Information Commissioner
    For businesses involved in the storage of personal data.

How to make your mark

A dynamic and visible business stands a far better chance of success. Once you’ve identified your market, you can set about promoting your business in all sorts of ways:

  • Create the right impression with a professional image. Network and make yourself known among potential customers.
  • Create an event around your launch and invite potential suppliers, customers or retailers.
  • A website is now essential for most types of business, but make sure it can be found via search engines. Hire a professional designer to ensure your site works well, looks attractive, and supports your promotional efforts effectively.
  • Make it easy for people to contact you by phone or email. Make sure your brand identity is displayed consistently and attractively wherever your business interacts with customers – from your stationery and invoicing paperwork to your website or vehicles.

Useful links

See the rest of the is4profit business advice articles on starting up or browse for information on business and self-employment.

This Starting Up Your Own Business: Overview and First Steps 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

While all reasonable care has been taken to ensure that the information in this website is accurate, no liability is accepted by Lloyds TSB for any loss or damage caused to any person relying on any statement or omission in the content of this website. The content of this website is provided for information only and should not be relied on as offering advice for any set of circumstances and specific advice should always be sought in each instance

Starting Up Your Own Business: Overview and First Steps

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