Start Up Business Questions answered

Congratulations. You’ve taken the brave step to start up a new business. Use this 123 Guide to guide you through. We have helped over 1000 businesses get started.

The first thing you need to do to start your business is to ensure you don’t simply have a great idea, but you have a great idea that people will pay you money for. Research the competition, understand WHO your audience are and why they will buy your product or service. Test the market any which way you can before investing too much time, money and energy into your new business. These steps are critical and will give you the feedback you need to inform your next steps. A little research can go a long way!

If you’ve given up your job, how long will it be before your business makes money? Have you got enough money to pay your bills? Do you need finance to start your business or see you over the initial growth period? If you can self finance great, if not take a look at the Start Up Loan offering here [you will need to submit a business plan after application], alternatively take a look at the Zopa offering which is a simpler, faster procedure.

You’re confident your business will be well received by your target audience [the type of people likely to want to buy your service/product]. Great. Then let’s begin. Please see the next sequence of questions below.

There is no hard and fast rule about setting up as a sole trader, limited company, or partnership or perhaps a social enterprise or charity. Most of the businesses we help are sole traders or limited companies. 

You can set up as a sole trader, open a business bank account and start selling your services. Always ensure you have relevant business insurances in place. You can get a quote here. Most likely you will need public liability, employers liability [if you have staff] and professional indemnity insurance. Plus any other types of insurance relevant to your specific business niche. 

As a sole trader you will need to keep book keeping records to keep tabs on outgoing business costs and incoming sales. Fortunately there are some great easy to use online tools to help you. [here]. Not only will using these tools save you a ton of time when it comes to your annual tax return; it will also focus your mind on incoming/outgoings and how much money your are making or need to make. If your business runs into financial difficulty – potentially any people owed money by your business can claim against your business and you personally including your assets such as property and other high value assets that you own. You can of course set up as a sole trader and change to a limited company if you wish.

As a limited company your personal assets are protected [limited liability] should your business hit financial difficulties. You can set up a limited company via your accountant, or if you haven’t selected an accountant yet our friendly accountants here can help. They’re low cost accountancy service is rated + on Google and they won’t bombard you with jargon. They offer free limited company set up too. More details here. Not sure about a name? Don’t worry they’ll check out your options.

Just as you wouldn’t leave your home uninsured and at risk, neither should you expose your business to risk.

Business insurance needed will vary here is 

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A good accountant will pay for him/herself. A good accountant will advise you what you can claim tax back for

Yes. Yes. Yes. There is so much you can do with a website. It can attract new customers, underpin any face to face work you do and you can even test out demand for new services on it. It’s a no brainer. Sure use social media too. BUT you do not own social media and it’s subject to constant change. 

What is the best website to get for a start up business?

We particularly like Wix for a start up business. You can get started in a day and it really is hard to mess up. Wix have already done the design work, all you need to do is customise the templates and add your own copy [text] and images and publish! Hurrah, no tech skills needed and very reasonably priced at £8.50 per month. Great value. Wix is especially popular with our start ups.

If you are looking to start an ecommerce website with 30+ products you might want to take a look at Shopify. It’s essentially a ‘business in a box’. Everything you can think of and more. It is the quickest way to get started with ecommerce. We would not recommend you commissioning a bespoke ecommerce website developed and designed by a web designer if this is your first time in selling online. It will take months, be costly and unlikely to produce any better results. The challenge with selling online lies in the marketing – not the website.

WordPress is popular but it is not suited to novices you will need a web designer to help you. If you want a more complex website and you have the budget look for a suitable WordPress web designer.

A domain name is the title of your website. For example ours is www.123grants.co.uk. 

You can see which domain names are available by finding a domain registration company. There are lots of these. Just do a Google search.


Simply type in the domain name you require and see what’s available. 

You don’t need a business plan to start a business. But you will need a business plan if you’re looking for start up finance and also if you’re applying for a start up grant.

A business plan sounds a bit scary and maybe a tad grand. But it really is just you putting down what’s in your head onto paper. What it will highlight are any knowledge gaps you have and it will probably shine a light on timescales – e.g. when you’re expecting to make money! 

Lenders are grant committees will use your business plan as a way of understanding your business idea, the marketing opportunity and how your figures stack up [or not]. It will form a critical role in their decision making.

It is considered good practice to create a business plan because it will help you map out where your are now and how you’re going to get where you need to be, and the things you need to get there. 

See our tips on completing your business plan [below]

First off there are lots of business plan templates. We attached here the business plan template used by the Start Up Loan company. 

There are lots of ways to market your business. The challenge for start ups and in fact growing businesses too – is where do you spend your marketing time and budget?

Ok. First thing’s first you cannot do everything. As a start up you will not have the time or the money. Please do not feel that you need to do every marketing tactic and every marketing channel and social platform out there, because you don’t.

What you will need to understand is who your target audience are how best to reach them. 

Here are some tools to help you

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