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The Start Up Journey: Understanding the Business Set Up

In keeping with the theme about shy bairns getting nowt, and ensuring you ask for advice, help and second opinions, I hadn't realised how 1) excited people are that you're starting up and 2) how happy they are to help. Maybe my years in marketing have moulded me into a cynical being (you have to be because to be good at marketing, especially B2B marketing, you need a level head) but it really took me by surprise.

And not just that people are so pleased for you but actually more than happy to give up their time to talk to you, impart their wisdom and experiences, and listen to an acquaintance. That has been such an eye opener for me. And one of the motivators for me writing about the start up journey - my way of helping other people on a similar venture, should they need it and hopefully encouraging others to impart their experiences of the topics we discuss.

So here are a few starters for ten to get you off to a flyer.

Accountants - this is a good idea. Research a few and talk to different types of accountants. Big, small and alternative. This gives you a good idea about what each is offering, prices you can afford and what you need.

It's an expense, for sure but it also, especially for the first couple of years, allows you to concentrate on growing your business without having to worry about keeping on top of your legal obligations to the Tax Man. It gives you a partner to keep you on the straight and narrow and useful financial advice.

Lawyers - depending on what you're setting up, you don't need a lawyer to write your Terms & Conditions. However, you might feel more comfortable having someone look over them for you, especially if you are setting up a business where you’re looking to employ people as you grow. Big legal firms don't usually offer that service for sole trades people or if they do, it's at their usual hourly rate which can be high when you’re starting out on your own. Looking for an independent advisor could be a better option if you’re on your own.

Website - do you need one? Yes. Yes you absolutely do. You might think that you'll "do it later" when you're up and running with a few clients. You won't have time. Prospects need to see what you do before you start and they're going to go to your website to check you out. You will be compartmentalised as high risk for high value clients if you can't produce a website. Everyone expects everyone to have one. If you don't, clients will question your credentials. Plus, some business bank accounts ask for it to check your legitimacy. Bite the bullet, pay the money, get it set up.

It is cheaper to buy in bulk for your domain, website set up and email (i.e. 1-3 years in advance) but depends if you have that money ready. Look at your budget and see what works for you.

Registering a Business - you don't need a business bank account to register a business, you just need to know what setup you want. The government has a lot of very clear information to guide you through it. It takes about 10 minutes and costs £12.

If you don't have an office, you can put your own address in to change at a later date. Up to you how comfortable you are with your home address being public. Some accountants will offer their address (for a fee) to use theirs if you want, so ask.

VAT Registering - there is no legal obligation to be VAT registered as a limited company, until you reach £85,000 taxable turnover. You can also apply for redemption if it's only a temporary over the threshold. The difference is that if you're not VAT registered, clients will know you pull in less that £85,000. Some may decide you're not big enough to work with, it's up to you to decide whether that's important to you or not. If you're VAT registered, you need to submit your VAT returns every quarter and to register you will need a business bank account already set up.

Branding - this is hugely important to me. This is what I'm selling. It's vital to practise what you preach so working on my business as well as in it, is essential to my offering. It might not be yours, particularly to start with but do make sure that the look and feel of your business reflects your values and projects the necessary status so visitors know what to expect from you << branding 101!

Office Space - if you're working from home, you're going to need a quiet space in the house where you can disappear to work without any distractions. The kitchen table is difficult, especially if this is the centre of the house. Understand how you work and create the environment that you need. I, for instance, need a tidy space so if my office gets too cluttered, I need to put time aside to organise it, otherwise, I know instead of working, I'm going to be distracted by the debris!

N.B. Same rules apply for your space as they do in a traditional office - make sure your working positioning is optimal. There's no sick leave pay now so your health is extremely important.

Useful links:

Think I've missed something? Have a link to add? Had a different experience? Share in the comments.

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