Put Your Business on Firm Footing for Success

Ade Potts, Managing Director of Experian’s SME Business, reveals key tips of starting up a business, and making it a success.

The hardest part of starting any business is finding the will to turn a great idea into reality. For many people, this first hurdle is the hardest one to jump, and it’s the reason why idle dreams of founding a business fail to turn into reality.

That’s a great shame, because running a successful business is one of the most fulfilling things that anyone can do with their lives. What’s more, there are many Britons who’d dearly like to change their lives and their careers: Experian’s latest First Steps research found that around half of people want to change career, yet few have taken any action – such as taking the first steps towards founding a business.

Setting up a business is likely a lot easier than you think, especially with today’s technology, but it’s essential that your new company should rest on strong foundations. Here’s how you can put your budding business on a firm footing.

Get fighting fit

“You need to spend money to make money”, as the old saying goes, but these days you might need less than you think. Many of the traditional business costs, such as renting premises or hiring an accountant, are obviated by modern technologies such as email and easy-to-use business software.

While you may not need a large loan from the bank or from family, it’s critical that you start building a credit history so that you can raise money when you need it. It’s easy, fast and free to check your credit history with Experian Credit Score, which will show you what sort of loan you can expect to raise to fund your business.

Know the market

It almost goes without saying, but it pays to do your research. One of the main reasons for early business failures is that entrepreneurs don’t put enough effort into understanding their market, including their competition and customer.

You don’t need to spend thousands commissioning a big market research agency – even something as simple as handing out free samples to reviewing social media can yield vital intelligence that will help shape your business strategy. The UK.gov website has some good advice on conducting market research for businesses of all types.

Company setup

Getting your company set-up right is essential. One of the key decisions is deciding what structure your company should take. Different set-ups such as sole trader, partnership or limited company all have different tax implications, so take the time to seek professional advice about what will work best.

Don’t do it all yourself

Ask any entrepreneur what their hardest lesson was, and they’ll likely tell you it was learning to delegate. As the owner of anything but the simplest business, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to do everything yourself; meanwhile, concentrating on the minutiae of administration will prevent you from tackling the bigger, more urgent issues facing your business.

Decide early on what responsibilities you will keep for yourself, and which can be done better and more efficiently by hiring an outside expert, such as an accountant. Don’t see it as a cost, but rather as an investment that enables you to keep an eye on what’s important.

See – and be seen

Once you have founded your business, it’s time to get yourself known. The first step in marketing doesn’t have to be an advertising campaign – it can be just as effective to network with other business owners in your area, raising awareness of your company and giving it a human face. This is also a great way of building contacts of potential customers and partners, so don’t be nervous – get out there and start selling!