Starting a business? 7 things you need to do first

You’ve got a business idea but what are the next steps? Startups has compiled a launchpad guide to help you put the foundations in place for business success

1. Market research

Make sure your business idea is actually viable, and refine it if necessary. This article on researching your market is a good starting point – ask yourself the tough questions before you begin to avoid pitfalls later on.

2. Examine the different business structures

Read up on the different legal business structures you can adopt and decide on the best option for your start-up. Not many new businesses will start life as a limited company; you will most likely need to register as a sole trader or find yourself a business partner.

3. Create a business plan

You wouldn’t build a house without a blueprint, so don’t start a business without a plan. A professional, well-thought out business plan will not only provide your start-up with a clear direction and contingencies in the case of unexpected events, but it can also be vital in securing investment.

Learn how to decide on your business objectives and personal goalshow to set out your company value, visions and mission statements, and how to tailor your business plan to different audiences.

For an overview, read up on the 12 common elements strong business plans share.

4. Choose a name for your business

Everyone knows the importance of choosing the right business name. An effective, memorable business name can be the difference between failure and success and should reflect the type of business you wish to be.

Run any proposed name through four golden rules to see if it stands up, and follow our 10 top tips to further refine it.

One of the mistakes to avoid at all costs is creating confusion with competitors, which can lead to lost sales and legal action. Avoid common branding mistakes by learning from some cautionary tales, and learn what to do if your chosen name is unavailable.

5. Design a logo

logo is often the first thing prospective customers see, and is therefore crucial in making the right impression. If you’re new to starting a business, the options available can seem daunting but can be broken down into five main options – read up on all of them and decide which one is best for your business and budget.

6. Register a domain name and build a website

After you start out in business, customers will want to investigate more about you on the web, so make sure you get in early and register a domain name.

Build your website with 10 design principles every start-up should know in mind, and learn some vital SEO tips from Google’s head of B2B marketing.

7. Get your finances in order

Get an accounting and cashflow system set up before you begin so you don’t find yourself buried in invoices and receipts a month in. If you plan to grow your business beyond the VAT threshold (currently £72,000) then it’s worth planning for it from day one. Especially for novices, taking on an accountant can pay off in the long run – learn some basic rules to ensure you keep costs as low as possible.

Source: Starting a business? 7 things you need to do first – Startups.co.uk: Starting a business advice and business ideas

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