10 steps to turn your idea into a business

Growth and strategy

9 November 2017

We believe that every great business idea can become a great business. It can seem daunting when you're starting out, but once you break the process down into manageable steps you'll find momentum quickly builds.

1. Define your idea

Find your niche, do your market research and make sure your business idea is exactly what you thought it was. You need a clear idea of what your business is doing, why it's doing it and who the customers are.

2. Create a business plan

Your business plan is the foundation of your company. It's where you clarify and organise all of your ideas and plans in one place, and it should be adapted as you go through later stages. If you're not sure where to start, use samples and templates to get you going.

3. Get advice

Your business plan should be in a permanent process of refinement. Getting feedback early will increase your chances of getting later steps right. As part of this process, you should also reach out to make contacts who will serve you well in the future. The UK government recommends several services and mentorship schemes, many based around local growth hubs.

4. Build your identity

Who you are is almost as important as what you do. Brainstorm names, check with Companies House to see what's already been taken, and consider the visual aspects such as logo design. Remember to register online assets like web domains and social media accounts.

5. Test your idea

Next, find out what your target audience thinks of your business. You can start with friends and family, but move on to a wider audience by canvassing opinions and offering free trials in person or online. Get thorough feedback and testimonials afterwards.

6. Register your business

Deciding whether you’re a sole trader, partnership or limited company will have important tax implications later, particularly if you plan on seeking investors, so research this one carefully before registering with HMRC and Companies House.

7. Secure finances

With the legal structures in place, you can plan your finances for the medium to long term. Calculate your set-up costs, from websites and tools to employees and offices, and work out where the money will come from. That could mean loans, investors, start-up incubators, grants and peer-to-peer sites like Kickstarter.

8. Set up your accounting

Funding is an ongoing matter. You'll need to stay on top of spending if you’re to turn a profit and get your taxes right. If you can't afford an accountant, look at helpful tools like Wave and QuickFile.

9. Tool up and start selling

Now you're ready to put the groundwork in place and start operating. Shop around for all of your major overheads, investigating every option to ensure you're getting the right deal for your needs – from looking at shared offices to considering the benefits of rental equipment compared with buying outright.

10. And remember, you're not alone

You may not be able to employ someone to manage your ever-increasing workload (yet), but that doesn't mean you're going it alone. From mentoring options to networking, there are countless ways to get help and advice from those who've already been there, done that.

And for more help and advice, keep your eye on Business Guardian Angel and sign up for our newsletter to get the latest business news and articles straight to your inbox.

Business funding made easier with AXA Startup Angel

At AXA, we're committed to helping small businesses achieve their full potential. That's why we created the AXA Startup Angel competition, which helps support two new businesses every year with £25,000 funding, mentoring from business experts and business insurance too, so we can help set you up for success.