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Seven Simple Steps To Start Your Own Business

Small businesses are an essential part of the UK’s economy: in 2018, there were more than 5.5 million SMEs across the country, which accounted for over 99 per cent of private sector companies. On the whole, the UK is considered one of the leading business ecosystems in Europe, and hundreds of thousands of new companies are established every year.

More encouraging statistics come from the data released in early 2019, which listed the UK as one of the best countries to start a business in when factoring ease of start up procedures and tax structure. If you are considering setting up a business in the UK, read through this guide to find out how to get started and turn your idea into a successful reality.

1. Legal Aspects

The most important things you will need to do include:

- Choosing and registering a name with Companies House.
- Choosing the right structure (sole trader or limited liability company). The main difference is whether you’ll be personally liable for business debts. Both have pros and cons, so weigh them to see what works best for you. You can find some useful pointers in this article.
- Registering with HRMC as self-employed or as employer, and registering for VAT if applicable (if earning more than £85,000 over a 12-month period).

2. Financial Aspects

- Open a business bank account. Keeping business and personal expenses separate will make it easier to handle bookkeeping and tax reporting. Other benefits that may come with a business bank account include a personal advisor, a higher overdraft, and apps or dedicated tools that can help you monitor your business financials.
- Decide if you need a loan or funding. To get funding, you’ll need a solid business plan and invest time researching what help is available. Help can come in the form of local or regional funds, government grants, angel investors, startup loans, or traditional loans from banks.
- Decide if you’ll do bookkeeping yourself or find an accountant to handle this for you.
- Get insurance. If you’re planning on employing staff, you’ll need mandatory liability cover. Insurance is also necessary even if you’re a one-person company or if you plan on running a home-based business. While not mandatory, you should consider getting insurance to cover contents and business interruption for your own peace of mind.

3. Online Presence

Nowadays we all spend a large amount of time online, and so do your potential customers. Launching a business goes hand in hand with establishing an online presence, so you’ll need to create a business website, and ideally social media profiles too. Some of the benefits of doing this include credibility, better exposure, and reaching a wider customer base.

4. Office or Commercial Space

Depending on type of business you plan to open, you’ll need to secure retail or office space. If you need an office, you may also consider coworking spaces, business centres offering virtual offices, or setting up a home office. For commercial real estate, contact your local city council, as they usually keep lists of what’s available in the area. You can find more information on finding the right premises here. You will also need to take all costs into account, including business rates, service charges, utilities, furniture, office / shop equipment, etc.

5. Let People Know About It

Branding and advertising can help your business take off, so in the initial stages you should try every method available to reach as wide an audience as possible: word of mouth, local newspapers or radio stations, and of course online channels too. Social networks allow you to create targeted advertising campaigns at affordable rates, and depending on your target customer base, it may be worth considering influencer marketing to give your business more online exposure right from the start.

6. Get Support

Establishing a business seems daunting because it is, but every business owner has been there before. To help you out, try find someone who can act as your mentor. There are plenty of dedicated organisations like Mentorsme, Nesta, or MicroMentor that can be useful in this respect. Another option is joining your local chamber of commerce, since these organisation often run mentorship programmes for first-time business owners.

7. Get the Right Tools

Having the right tools is just as important as having support. In particular, software and technology that can make the startup process easier and less time consuming. Here are some basics for you to consider:

- Business plans templates.
- Accounting software. You can find an up-to-date list of best accounting packages for small businesses here.
- Business expense software to help with tasks like expense tracking and receipt scanning. You can see an overview and comparison of the business expense software here.
- Document management tools like Zoho Docs or Microsoft SharePoint.
- CRM (customer relationship management) software like HubSpot.
- Apps like Crowdfire, which can streamline your online communications, which are especially useful for managing all social media profiles, and free messaging tools like Pushover and MailChimp.

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