Setting up a company isn’t for the faint-hearted. There’s a thousand things to do at any one time, and just when you think you’re on top of it, something knocks you back. Although it’s hard work, it’s definitely rewarding. Don’t succumb to failure before you’ve even begun.
Stress less with a checklist that will get you through those first few weeks with ease, and will make sure you don’t forget anything. Keep this checklist handy and be sure to make a note of everything you’ve kept on top of. It’ll give you a promising boost for your next few months as a trading company!
Set up your company
If you’re yet to set up your company, there are a few things you need to figure out. The most important thing? Deciding how you are going to trade.
Choosing between becoming a sole trader or a limited company will be based largely on who you plan on working with and the turnover you expect to make in your first year.
If you want to become a limited company, you’ll need to register with Companies House. You may have to trade under a different name if yours is taken, so make sure you have some back-ups in mind. Companies House charges £15.00 for an online formation and £40.00 for a postal application.
If you would rather become a sole trader, or if it’s more tax-advisable to do so, then all you have to do is register with HMRC and begin trading. As a sole trader you’ll have to complete an annual self assessment tax return, so you don’t need to worry about tax too much except for keeping accurate records.
The next thing to decide is whether or not you need to become VAT registered. If it isn’t a compulsory requirement for your business, it could still be worth considering, as you may benefit tax-wise. See more information on VAT registration here.
Make a business plan
Having a business plan is a must for any startup. This will act as an outline for your targets and how you want your business to perform, so don’t rush it. Take time to consider what kind of business you want to be, and what your values are.
The main elements of your plan will include; your mission statement, a timeline of when you want to reach specific goals, the possible pitfalls you could encounter and the financial information of your business.
Being as specific as possible will mean you can create a coherent plan for how you expect your business to perform. Planning for pitfalls will also mean you can expect the worst, so if it happens, you’re prepared.
Networking is the buzzword we love to hate. The practice of connecting with people so both parties can gain something is effective and can even be fun, however, the description is not.
Networking is essentially corporate speak for making friends, as we’re less likely to network with people we don’t get on with. So instead of thinking of it as networking, consider it as just meeting new people!
These new contacts will be invaluable to you as you start to grow your business. They’ll open doors and in return you’ll be able to better their business too. It’s a win-win!
In order to make these new contacts, you’ll need to have something to contact them on. As much as we’d like to say you don’t need a smartphone to be successful, it’s part of the deal when setting up a business in the 21st century.
If you aren’t contactable clients will be less likely to want to do business with you, as you’ll come across as unreliable.
If you want to do the best for your business, you’ll grab the latest smartphone and make use of it. Use apps such as notes and reminders in order to stay on top of the many things you’ll have to remember.
Get the right equipment
This one depends on what industry you’re in, but for the most part you’re probably going to need some kind of equipment to complete work. Whether you need heavy-duty machinery or simply a till for your shop, don’t be scared to invest in the best.
Buying cheap can be tempting at this point, as setting up a company brings with it a lot of expense. However, you may be cheating yourself down the line as you’ll have to pay for repairs which could also stop production.
Get the right equipment when you set up so there’s less stress later on.
Do your market research
You should cover this briefly in your business plan, but if you want to succeed, you’ll need to research the market extensively. You need to make sure you know the market you’re about to enter and plan for it.
Who’s the competition? What’s your target audience? Where are they shopping? What social media platforms are they using the most?
There’s endless questions you’ll need to answer, so get writing and find out exactly what you need to know. The most effective way of completing market research is to ask the audience directly. If you’re unable to do this, see what the competition are doing.
You shouldn’t copy your competitors exactly, but do take pointers when it comes to what content they’re publishing that performs the best.
Business insurance is a must. Get it when you set up your company to make sure you’re covered from as soon as you begin trading.
Some business insurance policies won’t cover everything you need, so shop around and find a policy that’s going to work for you. You may need to tailor a policy if you can’t find one to suit your business.
You should also check whether your company is within a flood risk area, as you may need to take out a different insurance policy to make sure you’re covered if your business becomes subject to water damage.
Hire an accountant
And last but not least, don’t forget to hire an accountant. Unless you have time to complete all your accounts yourself you’ll need to outsource this to an expert.
There’s a number of element to accounting which can make the process even more complicated. The easiest and most reliable way to know if you’re getting the best deal is to understand the different aspects to accounting.
For example, you may want to hire an accountant but do your own bookkeeping. If this is the case you can either use spreadsheets to keep your books in order, or use cloud accounting software. Find out more about what you need to understand when hiring an accountant here.
What’s on your startup checklist? Leave us a comment below!