How to start a business, according to the experts

A step-by-step guide to making your dream company a reality
How to start a business, according to the experts
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If your dream is to start a business, but you don't know how, you're not alone. "Thirty per cent of 16–30-year olds expect to be self-employed at some time in their life,” Stephen Warnham, Job Expert at Totaljobs told Cosmopolitan UK. “The concept of starting your own business can be exciting but trying to do it in practice can be overwhelming.

"Instead of rushing into it, think carefully about what you’ll have to do and what you’ll have to give up or sacrifice to achieve your business goals."

We spoke to the experts to find out all the practical tips for building a business, plus some invaluable advice.

1. SAVE FIRST

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Before you do anything official, you'll need some cold, hard cash behind you. The best business idea in the world won't get anywhere without some savings, unfortunately.

When it comes to loans, do your research. "Government backed start-up loads are a great option for those starting off. They loan between £500-£25000 per founder with an annual interest rate of six per cent," Owner of MUHU Spirits Sally Wynter told Cosmopolitan UK. "This is not a small interest rate but the loan is unsecured which means if the business closes for any reason, none of your personal assets can be seized."

If you're hoping for investment, things could take a little longer. Many crowdfund their ideas now, but you could also try the UK Business Angels Association (UKBAA) website, which features a member directory that is “the UK’s single largest source of early-stage investors, advisors and intermediaries”.

Before approaching someone for investment, though, you'll want to scroll through and make sure you've ticked off our checklist...

2. CHOOSE A BUSINESS NAME

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This is the fun bit – but it can be problematic, and you'll need to do checks to make sure your name is unique. Rob Williams, Director at Hawthorn explains: "Do in-depth intellectual property research before you get too far in to any project. Too many times have we seen a business owner choose a name, make a great website, or even worse actually invest in products, only to realise down the line that they're infringing on someone else's trademark.

"Be absolutely sure you're not treading on anyone's toes and then register the trademark yourself before making any expensive moves."

3. REGISTER YOUR BUSINESS

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Next, you need to let HMRC know about your company. Most businesses register as a sole trader, limited company or partnership – here's what each one means:

“It’s simpler to set up as a sole trader, but you’re personally responsible for your business’s debts,” according to the government website. “If you form a limited company, its finances are separate from your personal finances, but there are more reporting and management responsibilities.”

If you're setting up with a business partner, a partnership is the easiest way to get things going. In this case, everything will be shared between you.

4. MAKE A BUSINESS PLAN

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A great business plan will look at everything from market analysis to a financial plan and projections - and won't be a speedy task. "When you do your original business plan, take the amount of time you anticipate it will take you and then triple it," says Rob

"This gives you enough time to work through any things that crop up, without jeopardising your time frame or launch date."

5. OPEN A BUSINESS BANK ACCOUNT

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Your personal banking won't cut it. Money Supermarket will compare all the business account deals to help you choose which one's right for you.

6. GET BUSINESS INSURANCE

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Again, try Money Supermarket to find the best offer for you. You may also need licences – for example, an alcohol licence, if you're opening a bar. Lastly, check that you're covering all health & safety and data protection laws – for more information, read through these tips from gov.uk.

7. MANAGE YOUR FINANCES WITH AN ACCOUNTANT

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Most people will struggle to keep on top of money and taxes without an accountant – and even the most sensible-with-money types can make simple mistakes.

“Accept that you won’t be able to do everything yourself,” says Stephen from TotalJobs. “Not only do you have to register with Companies House, but you also need to deal with things such as VAT and the publishing of annual accounts."

8. GET ONLINE TO MAKE SURE PEOPLE CAN FIND YOUR BUSINESS

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Darain Faraz, Careers Expert at LinkedIn explains: "It seems pretty obvious, but maintaining an online presence from the off is something a lot of new companies can get wrong. It’s worth spending a decent amount of time on the initial set-up and then scheduling regular time each week to dedicate to this.
"Some things to think about are having the right details listed, linking through to your website on your social channels, and creating a LinkedIn company page to make professional contacts and build your brand."

9. PERFECT YOUR PITCH

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Okay, so you've got the practical parts nailed and it's time to start spreading the message. “Before you take your business to market, you need to be confident you’ve thought everything through. How do you want the business to start? And do you know how you intend to grow and when you’ll start seeing profit?

"When you are able to articulate that for yourself, and prepare for any push-backs or objections, you’re in a position to pitch your business to the wider world," says Stephen.

10. GET A MENTOR

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"Setting up a business can not only feel pretty daunting but also a little isolating at times. This is where talking to someone who has gone through the process can be hugely reassuring and beneficial,” Darain explains.

LinkedIn has a handy CareersAdvice hub where you can request to be connected with someone whose career history matches the sort of advice you want to receive.

"As you grow your network, remember to nurture it by letting them knowhow you’re getting on and whether there’s anything you’re working on they can contribute to. One day you may well be returning the favour."