By Charlotte Fantelli
You can read part one in our ‘how to start your own business’ series here: ‘Start a business – from concept to funding‘
We have discussed the ‘concept and planning’ in our last blog, here we look at the ‘doing’. Turning business plans into action can seem like an endless ‘to-do’ list; brand identity creation, registering names, trademarks, legal requirements, companies house/tax, and marketing…. The list goes on and on! But breaking things down into bite-sized chunks can really help make a daunting task more manageable. We look at the overall start-up essentials:
If you start a franchise you will be guided through this process by the brand or franchise manager within the company. Everything will be supported. If you are going alone in your business venture, you will have to consider the following:
Choosing your company structure – Choosing your company structure is an important decision. There are three main types of company formation you may consider; sole trader, limited company, and partnership. Although more structures are available, details of which can be found on gov.uk.
Sole traders may choose this structure if they are not looking for funding or if they are at little risk of running up debts. This is because the sole trader will be personally responsible for the finances of the company. Partnerships may be an option for two or more people looking to trade in a cash rich environment where again they do not mind being responsible for any company debt. However, most new companies are Limited. This means the business is a separate entity from the individual setting up the company. Furthermore, the directors and shareholders are not personally responsible for the business debt should things go wrong.
You must register your new business with Companies House and let HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) know when the company starts trading.
Every financial year, the company must:
If you think your business will take more that £82,000 a year you must register for VAT. Again, this process will be very simple as part of a franchise as your contact within the company will be very experienced and the establishment will have their own system already in place.
If you’re a director of a limited company, you must:
You can get help with the above through gov.uk or any local accountant, although the latter will incur fees.
It may feel like you have to trademark everything when you start a business, but intellectual property protection can be incredibly costly. If you have something very unique that you want to protect, a design or new technology for example then patents can be a great way to secure your IP.
However, if you are a service provider or your product is readily available, consider the benefit of trademarking, against the cost. These days a simple business that doesn’t require patents for new products, would be well placed in first considering protecting their name by buying the appropriate web domains in all their top forms (.com .co.uk .net and .uk for example). If you start a business as part of a franchise appropriate brand and/or product protection will already be in place.
When you chose the franchising route you will likely have a website or space within the brand site available to you. You certainly do with Just Shutters! If starting from scratch however, you can buy and manage web domains from companies such as Go Daddy and 123-reg. Keep in mind that domains can cost as little as £2.99 a year, but web building and hosting can be a large cost to any start-up. This needs to be considered at business plan stage. If you are considering franchising, ask the franchise contact what their website package is within the franchise fee.
Once your name is set, your business registered and your web domain purchased, you can start making deals! This is the time you will start spending the funding money we spoke of in our last article. It is an exciting stage but with excitement usually comes mounting costs! Keep an eye on budgets at all times and make sure you get the correct suppliers, premises and contractors for your needs. NEVER be afraid to ask for more than one quote. It is often in ‘shopping around’ you find not only the best prices service, but also one that is a match for your business.
Marketing – whether your business is based on products or services, you will need to market your business in order to make sales. Even if you are a business to business or trade supplier, you will need to make contact with buyers. However, the majority of people setting up businesses are in the business to consumer marketplace, or business to business space that requires additional marketing.
The basis of any good marketing starts with brand identity. You can read our guide to the importance of brand identity, but in short your marketing statement should be fluent throughout everything your customer touches; from an advert, a business card, a dress code, even to the way you follow up enquiries and the manner in which your staff communicate with customers. Ask yourself; ‘what is my overall brand message?’ And then formulate a cohesive plan to communicate this with the customer. A ‘cheap and cheerful’ chip shop will be communicating a very different message to a ‘luxury’ sushi bar.
Advertising is PART of marketing but marketing and advertising are different; marketing encompasses everything that sells your brand to the customer and can be free; taking shoes off when entering a home, wearing the right attire, social media messages, company communications, and following up customers with a polite email, are all part of marketing. Or, of course, it can be paid for; advertising (print, digital, directory), business cards, websites, logos on your vehicles and trade shows for example.
When you work as part of a franchise group the brand will already know what works and what doesn’t. Additionally, you should get a marketing package that has proven successful for the brand. Ask these questions to ensure you are getting a great deal when buying into a franchise: ‘What marketing materials and initial set-up will I be entitled to as part of my fee?’ And ‘how will you support me ongoing with marketing?’
Most people will already have a launch date in mind when making plans. This will be the date you open your doors, launch a product to market, or simply start making calls to customers. Whatever your launch day holds, whether a grand party full of press, or you in your spare bedroom with a telephone, it is a BIG day; a day you have committed to make a success of everything you have planned.
Each business will require different things from its launch. So going into detail about how to launch a business here would be far to in-depth. However, one thing is for certain it is NOW the hard work really starts. So many people put much work into the planning and start-up stage, yet they underestimate what it then takes to make a success of the business after launch. If you are thinking of franchising, discuss your commitments, your goals and expectations with your franchise manager. Any successful brand will be able to guide you as to how realistic these are and draw upon experience to advise you.
Start-up is an exciting time buzzing with ideas and enthusiasm! What happens next is the reality of the slog…
People are unlikely to flock through the doors and make you an instant millionaire! Owning your own business is not like that I am afraid. A great man once told me ‘success is the sum of doing the little things well day in day out’.
Starting your own business is very difficult, it holds promises of freedom and work/life balance. This is true and attainable especially with the right support. However, you have to be prepared that this is not going to be the case straight after launch. Many businesses fail because people have not realistically planned for the eventualities post-launch and the work and dedication it takes to grow a business across the hard and critical first year.
It has been proven that 8/10 businesses that get the right support or mentorship WILL succeed. Furthermore, 9/10 franchises will succeed! Which goes to show just how important ongoing mentorship from industry experts is very important. Conversely, 8-9/10 businesses that start up alone and do not have mentors sadly fail.
Franchising with Just Shutters gives you training and the overall support you need. Additionally, access to all the company systems, marketing set-up and ongoing marketing support. As well as the all important mentorship as part of a franchise network. Please call 01202 233744 for more information, or download our brochure from the form on the top of this page.
If you are still looking at starting up alone, there are some fantastic nationwide initiatives and organisations that can give this support; Google ‘the government business support team advice line’ for more information on what support is available for you.
The rewards of owning your own business and being your own boss are great! From having a flexible working life, to reaping the financial rewards of your own risk, capital and hard work! Being an entrepreneur is an exciting and rewarding path. It may not be instant, it may not be on your first try, but choosing the right idea, following through with hard work and continuing to do this well day on day is really the only (not so secret) formula to success.