An 18-point checklist for starting a business in the UK
Tips / 29.10.2021
Many successful people will tell you about how they use checklists in their daily lives to get their tasks done and to gain a sense of accomplishment. But being inspired by World Checklist Day, wouldn’t it be nice if you had a business checklist for how to start your own business?
A truly rewarding experience that only you can know about for yourself, starting your own business could be one of the most exciting, challenging and fulfilling things you’ve ever done. So, to help you with this venture, we’ve prepared a business startup checklist for the UK to help get your business idea to market. Here are 18 important things to do and consider as you get started.
Table of Contents
- Don’t quit your day job (just yet)
- Do your market research
- Get a business plan going
- Register your business
- Get insured
- Set up the basics
- Find suppliers and distribution partners
- Design a logo and register it
- Get financed
- Register your business domain and create your website
- Determine your ideal buyer persona
- Social media presence is a must
- Find a payment partner
- Find a good bookkeeper
- Create an account with Google AdWords
- Set up an email delivery service
- Hire staff
- Create a roadmap for your first year
Don’t quit your day job (just yet)
As exciting as it is to build your business, after all, you’ve spent countless sleepless nights thinking, planning, prioritising… it’s crucial that you don’t quit your day job (just yet). Why? Because you’ll need some financial stability in the interim and the road ahead will be long. You’ll need to get all your ducks in a row before you can begin, so it’s best to start out slowly, plan carefully and take baby steps all while knowing that you’re on your way to building your own business.
Do your market research
Market research is a critical step before you get started and you don’t necessarily have to spend thousands on conducting market research in order to get this step right. For starters, you can begin with assessing the industry you’re in as well as your competition. How do they rank on Google’s SERP? What keywords do they use? Who are they targeting and at what prices? And importantly, can you beat them?
Get a business plan going
You also need to make a business plan along as you embark on your journey and this could take some time. Some of the most prominent information in this type of plan should include what appears in this business plan checklist:
- Executive Summary
- Company description
- Industry analysis
- Competitor analysis
- Personnel and staff
- Mid- to long-term plans
- Inventory and stock
- Marketing plan
- Financial plan
This business plan should help you with sourcing financing, which is discussed in more detail below.
Register your business
You also need to choose a business name and a suitable legal structure. Let’s start with the business name. Is it short, simple to read and easy on the eye? Does it roll off the tongue nicely? Remember also that you’ll need a website and your domain name needs to be easy to type in. You don’t want to play with words too much, especially if your clientele will be both local and international. Then, regarding your legal structure, will you be a sole proprietor or something else? Remember that liability for business debts shifts according to the legal structure, so you need to know whether you’ll be personally responsible for your business’ debts or whether they will form a part of the business’ structure.
Insurance is another critical component of your starting a business checklist. There are many types of insurance out there and ultimately, the one you choose will be defined by your business type – whether you sell products (in person or online) or whether you provide services to your customers. In the service industry, insurance is a must in the event of accidents or mishaps. So you need to be prepared.
Set up the basics
Next up, look for your ideal location. Sure, you might say, “but I don’t need a location as I’ll be service-based and will be delivering my services to customers in their home?”. That’s perfectly okay – it means you’ve given it much thought. But what about other basics such as internet and utilities, equipment costs and tools, products that you need to source to run your business, stationery, and your walking billboard – your business card?
Find suppliers and distribution partners
If you’re about to get into a business that sells products, or even if you’re going to be offering services – one thing is crucial here and that is: find the right suppliers and distribution partners. You need to get different quotes and compare them for competitiveness and affordability.
Design a logo and register it
Now we come to your branding. And the first starting point here is your logo. You need to employ the services of a designer and then once you feel that your logo is something that you’ll want to keep and use on absolutely any material related to your business, at least over the next few years – you then need to register it with the relevant intellectual property office.
This is a big one. Financing. Sure, there are some innovative ways to start a business with little or no money, but money is the juice that keeps it all going and you’ll need some of this “juice” to get your business off the ground. This is going to be your initial investment. But where do you source the funds from? Consider your bank or financial institution (and this is where your beautiful business plan comes in), consider local municipal grants for small businesses, there is also the option of crowdfunding or looking for a silent investor or partner, and finally, you can approach friends and family and use your savings to get started. The most common option though, is approaching banks or financial institutions and your solid business plan will be key here.
Register your business domain and create your website
Being in business these days without an online presence is not a faux pas. It’s unthinkable. So now, at this point in our checklist for a business startup we’d like to urge you to set up an online presence. There are many ways you can set up an online shop for free. These options also enable you to use your domain name for your business while you upload your products or display your services in an easy-to-use manner. Remember that simplicity is key with an online presence. You don’t want clutter. You also don’t want to be so simplistic that your customers are left wondering what or where or how to go about making a purchase. Therefore, try to strike a balance between these elements.
Determine your ideal buyer persona
Let’s go even deeper. You think you’ve got the big stuff out of the way, and while that may be true, there’s still some work left yet. So, let’s keep going. Now is the time to figure out who your ideal buyer persona is. Wait. Buyer persona? What’s that? This is essentially the creation of an avatar of your ideal customer – who they are, what their likes and dislikes are, their age and gender, their socio-economic status, their profession, etc. Once you identify your ideal buyer, you’ll be able to market directly to them. Although there will be variations (and you could even have more than one buyer persona), this is going to be your go-to in all your marketing efforts.
Social media presence is a must
Social media. Yup. You knew this one was coming, didn’t you? It’s a fact that most of the big brands out there have a social media presence and why shouldn’t you? It’s a great place to receive customer reviews, in some cases complaints even (to which you need to respond almost immediately with some form of consolation for the affected customer), advertise promotions, sales, discounts etc., or simply post content that your customers will find useful. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok – all of these channels and more are your gateway to increased business credibility and in fact, to more business in general.
Find a payment partner
It’s all good and well to sell products or services. But what do you do in a world where so many people are going cashless? You need to be prepared to accept card payments and for this, you’ll either need to purchase a POS terminal, or if you’re online find a payment gateway, or even better: use a smartphone app on your phone to take in-person payments. Look for partners who don’t charge you sign-up, monthly or annual fees. Do your research and find a payment partner who will offer you instant settlement of funds (this is a huge one: your liquidity will be on the line if you don’t have this in mind), and choose a payments partner that has a solid industry reputation. Looking at online reviews is one way of doing this. Luckily, a POS terminal doesn’t have to be a huge financial investment and you can purchase your payment device for as little as 29 EUR.
Find a good bookkeeper
As a registered business owner, you need to pay your taxes and ensure you’re in the taxman’s good books. For this, hiring a capable accountant or bookkeeper is a must. They can show you where you can save some money with deductions, when you need to make payments, how much you need to pay and in general, they’ll ensure that your financial books are in good standing so that you don’t get in trouble with the law.
Set up an email delivery service
As you anticipate, your business will start growing and you’ll need to communicate with your customers on a regular basis, and this means the need to set up an email delivery service. There are many options on the market – choose the one that offers you an affordable plan that also covers all your needs. Email marketing is crucial in this day and age as you can use it to communicate new offers, sales, discounts and promotions as well as any new business developments you think your customers may want to be aware of.
Create an account with Google AdWords
Remember earlier when we spoke about the absolute need for a website? Well, this is where it gets a bit more complex. You’ll need to set aside a budget for Google AdWords. Why? Because around 80% of all internet users use Google and this is where you want to be. You can purchase words to advertise your business and your site and lead more traffic to it, ultimately converting the leads into customers and boosting your sales. After all, this is going to be the main aim of your business, isn’t it?
So, with a lot of endurance and perseverance you’ve made it to the second-last point for starting a business checklist in the UK. Congratulations! You’re nearly there! This point is where you figure out who you’ll need to help you run your business. It’s important to find people who are as passionate about your business idea as you are so that they can be brand ambassadors for you. There are multiple ways of sourcing talent, you just need to strike the right balance between the individual and their ultimate remuneration – which you will, of course, be expected to settle on a monthly basis. So, keep this in mind when you create the financial or expenses portion of your business plan as well.
Create a roadmap for your first year
Woohoo! You’ve made it to the end! It’s almost time to celebrate your launch. But hold on a second – your job’s not over yet. In fact, it’s just begun. Now it’s time to create a roadmap for the year ahead. What are your projected sales? How many sales will it take to keep your business in the black? What will it take to reach a profit? How long do you expect this will take you? By noting down realistic goals, you’ll be better prepared for the road ahead.
Turn your idea into reality and give the world something new. Something of yourself. By making your business unique and special, you’ll be one-up on your competitors and your customers will appreciate your originality. So, in short, this was our 18-point checklist to start a new business in the UK. We hope it helps you get to where you want to be in the business world!
Disclaimer: Please be aware that the contents of this article and the myPOS Blog, in general, should not be interpreted as legal, monetary, tax, or any other kind of professional advice. You should always seek to consult with a professional before taking action, since the particulars of your situation may materially differ from other cases.