Top things to consider when starting a business

Starting up

15 February 2018

Deciding to quit your job and take control of your future as an entrepreneur takes courage and confidence. You need to be strong and sure-footed. But that can’t happen unless you’ve laid the foundations for your new business.

That’s why timing is everything. You should only quit the safety net of your full-time job once you’ve got everything for your startup business in place. So whether you’re reading this with lingering doubts or fire in your belly, take the time to tick off the items on our checklist.

Complete a SWOT analysis

To be fully confident, you need to know your business will work. A strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis will help you position yourself in the market, and make plans to progress.

Write a business plan

The SWOT analysis creates the headlines, but your business plan will dig into the strategy and numbers. It can evolve as your business develops, but you should still have a clear initial plan. If you’re not sure where to start, use one of the free templates provided on the government business portal.

Find the funds

Start-ups often spend more than they earn for as long as two or three years. Make sure you have funding in place to cover initial purchases and the time it takes to start generating income. Remember, government grants are available to top up your investment, so don’t be shy of applying.

Know the legal hurdles

Your line of work is likely to be governed by laws, rules and regulations. Whether it’s requirements for indemnity or liability insurance, a licence to operate or professional standards to meet, you need to be fully prepared. Gov.uk has links to help you find the relevant rules for your venture.

Get on top of the admin

When you start your own business, you go from being a cog in the machine to the master engineer that keeps it all running. Put systems in place from the start to deal with time-consuming admin tasks, so they don’t distract you from your objectives. Check out free accounting tools like Wave, or consider a digital assistant like x.ai or time management and invoicing software such as Harvest.

Establish a reputation

Before you make the leap, start making a name for yourself and your future business. Networks are key: connect with like-minded entrepreneurs, industry experts and potential leads both in the real world and on sites such as LinkedIn. That way you’ll always have someone to ask when a new challenge crops up.

Create a ‘war chest’

It’s not just the company that needs to be funded, you do too. Before you quit, you should ensure you have enough income to cover essential personal expenses like rent or mortgage, utilities, bills and shopping until your business is established. Even if you’ve waited until the business is generating cash before leaving your job, you should have reserves, just in case.

Reduce risks

Take the time to put backup plans, fail-safes and insurance policies in place so that, if you do make a misstep or face setbacks such as illness or theft, it won’t undermine your good work and burgeoning reputation.

All businesses start with a story. Protect yours.

Businesses start with a bold step and a restless determination to succeed. So if you’ve got a business story to share, tell us about it using #AXABusinessStories.