Starting your dream business
Content supplied by Barclays
Heather Butler-Smith is a small business owner and development manager of the National Federation of Enterprise Agencies.
In her day job, Heather runs workshops on starting a business and gives motivational talks at women's networking clubs, encouraging women back into the workplace and into business. In her free time, she bakes occasion cakes to sell via her website.
Here, Heather shares her starting-a-business tips covering everything from doing the initial research to writing that all-important business plan.
- Do your homework
Find out if there's anything similar out there and what competition you're likely to face. What's the market for your product? Prepare a questionnaire to gather information from prospective customers: what do they want, what are they willing to pay, how far are they willing to travel? The more you can find out about your customers and their preferences, the easier it will be to make sure your product is right for your target audience.
- Choose your name carefully
Your business name should be relevant and memorable and convey the image you want to reflect. Make sure it's not already in use (you can double check at Companies House) and is available as a web address (Google it), before you order your stationery.
- Don't fail to plan - unless you plan to fail
You'll need to write a detailed business plan that defines your business, and states what it will do, the products or services it will provide, how customers will access your product (for example, in a shop, online or by phone), how you intend to market your business, as well as your approach to pricing. You'll find helpful tips at Business Link, the government's free business advice and support service, and a step-by-step guide on Barclays website.
- Know your rights
If you take on employees - even part-time - you'll need to familiarise yourself with employment law and know how to get the best out of your staff. Check out Small Business Employment Law for Dummies by Liz Barclay.
- Do the maths
Whether you're planning to take out a loan or apply for a grant, it's a good idea to get an accountant to help you devise a plan of your budgets and sales forecasts first. You'll also need to give yourself a crash course in book keeping if you're not familiar with monitoring cash flow. Try out these business finance tools to get your head round the figures.
- Get swotting
Speak to local entrepreneurs about their experiences, arm yourself with some good books (Good Small Business Guide 2010, A & C Black, is the bible for budding entrepreneurs). Barclays offers free advice and support, including free seminars for small businesses, with loads of practical tips and invaluable networking opportunities.
Head to Barclays on Mumsnet for lots more:
- Expert information on starting your own business
- Family budgeting and saving tips
- Money-saving videos and inspiring start-up videos
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