Business idea sprung to mind? A little guidance always helps…

Things have been tough recently, we’ll make no bones about it, but if the answer to our title question is a resounding yes, or even just a maybe, this is an exciting time. And regardless of whether you’re a get-it-all-down-in-Excel person, or are happy just to jot things on a piece of paper, your mind is no doubt buzzing with all sorts of ideas and questions. Should I set up a limited company? What technology do I need? How am I going to find customers? How does the whole tax thing work? Can I afford to do it? Have I got time? There’s a lot to get your head round…

Tapping into expertise so you can focus on your business

The thing is, busy people understandably worry about the amount of time they have to dedicate to wearing all the hats they have to wear when they’re getting a business going. So tapping into the expertise of an accountant, for example, can save them wasted time and energy in bucket loads. But it’s not just about that, for a good accountant knows the pitfalls and dead-ends to watch for, and the accelerators that have positive punch. So although going through the learning curve yourself is admirable, to be working with the right expert on a particular aspect of business, be that an accountant, web developer, marketing guru, HR consultant, or funding specialist etc. will save yourself a lot of grief; each area is a minefield to the uninitiated.

And this is the crunch. Making mistakes can be costly both in time and money, so having the right advisers to hand can make the difference between success and failure. And there’s no doubt that having enthusiastic supporters adding spring to your step can really help anyway, because they provide guidance and motivation just when you need it.

Ten top tips for planning your new business idea

So, bearing in mind we’ve seen a fair few new businesses start and flourish over the years, we thought during these tough times a few top tips from a long-in-the-tooth accountant might be of good use. Enjoy!

  1. Talk to an accountant – It’s no surprise we’re suggesting this, of course, but it is really important to set the business up in the right way from the start (e.g. as a sole trader or limited company), and also to be as tax efficient as possible. So get advice first. It can be expensive/difficult to fix afterwards.
  2. Do your research – Carry out as much research as you can into your market, your competitors, and the demand for your offering. Talk to your potential customers and test your ideas.
  3. Write a business plan – It’s something that will focus your thinking and help you with longer term objectives, estimates, and forecasts. But remember, it’s not set in stone, and should always be evolving.
  4. Brand your business – A strong brand fosters loyalty and helps customers engage with your offering. It also provides the platform to extend your range in the future, so think about it carefully right from the start.
  5. Check your domain name/URL is available – If you use a business name that’s already being used for a web address elsewhere, this could result in legal action. Plus your website/email options may also be limited.
  6. Think about your premises – Your spare room may be a great place to start, but if you want to hold meetings you may need space elsewhere. Plus, if you need to store stock etc. commercial premises need to be ‘costed up’ now so you know what you’re letting yourself in for.
  7. Assess strategic partners – Going it alone can be scary and isolating. Strategic partners, or a support network, can boost your motivation when you’re flagging and offer support with your ideas.  Business networking isn’t easy at the moment, but it is happening; Zoom has boomed, as they say. So investigate which groups could be of use to you and start joining in.
  8. Think through the IT side of things – As well as needing hardware and software you will need security. Your data must be secure and held in line with regulations to stop any hefty fines. It’s worth considering applying for the Cyber Essentials certificate, for example.
  9. Funding – Cash flow matters. Take advice from your accountant about whether you should borrow.
  10. Make sure it’s right for you – Is your mind-set ready to start a business? Can you work the long hours? Can you take the pressure, accept failures, and still push on? Running a business can be very rewarding but it takes determination.

And with those pointers and words of wisdom… if you’re nervous but still chomping at the bit, then go for it. In our experience you’ll be so glad you did. Good luck!

Roger Eddowes
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Roger Eddowes

Roger trained at Edward Thomas Peirson & Sons in Market Harborough before working at Hartwell & Co, followed by Chancery, as a partner. He started Essendon Accounts & Tax with Helen Beaumont in 2014. Roger loves ‘getting his hands dirty’, working with emerging, small-to-medium and family businesses to ensure they receive the best possible accountancy advice. Using an extensive network of business contacts to leverage the best guidance and practical solutions, he has been called a Business Godparent due to his caring, hands-on approach.