- You need a name: Whatever your business – even if you are just planning to freelance – you need a trading name and, whether you like it or not, this will become your brand. Choosing the right name for a start-up is extremely important so do put some serious thought into it. The first thing to do is Google your name idea to see what comes up, if your name isn’t available or taken by a competitor then rethink it, check it out on Companies House website wck2.companieshouse.gov.uk//wcframe?name=accessCompanyInfo and on a URL trading site such as www.123-reg.co.uk to see what URLs are available. Everyone needs a website so this is crucial and ideally you want a .com, .co.uk, or .net address.
- Design a logo: Depending on your business you may not need a particularly creative logo but whatever you are starting up, you do require some form of branding. This doesn’t have to cost a lot and can be quickly but professionally done using freelance designers through sites like www.peopleperhour.com, www.designcrowd.co.uk, www.freelancer.com/find/Logo-Design. With The Marketing Associates logo I came up with the basic idea, designed it myself in Powerpoint, and then employed an art-worker through peopleperhour.com to create the logo and have it sent through to me in various sizes and formats ready to go – all of which cost about £40.
- Register with HMRC: You must do this! When starting any form of business, you need to inform HMRC in order to start paying your Class 2 National Insurance Contribution (NIC).
- Open a business bank account: Having a separate business bank account is a good idea from the off as it helps you keep the ins & outs separate, plus you need to keep a close eye (and a record) of your business’s expenses for tax allowance purposes. The majority of start-ups fail due to running out of money so always monitor your bottom line.
- Get a website: This doesn’t have to be expensive. Yes, you need to register a URL (visit www.123-reg.co.uk for URLs and email addresses) but with a plethora of free template sites each providing full guidelines as to how to build a website and how to create each page, you can set it up yourself for free. There are tons out there but here are some suggestions www.wordpress.com, www.weebly.com, www.squarespace.com, www.wix.com. Do research them though, as some templates are better than others for certain requirements i.e. blogging platforms, retail websites or image-led sites.
I used the above steps for my own business and on 29th March 2015 The Marketing Associates website was launched with two client case studies and several glowing testimonials all produced for free or in exchange for services and within the first 10 months 11 paying clients had been secured!
Of course, it’s not that simple, hours and hours and hours of blood, sweat and tears went into the whole process. Some things worked first time, others failed, so be prepared to be flexible in your initial thoughts, plans, hopes and ideas but stay positive and focused. Network a lot, find suitable partners that can support you – a good accountant is worth their weight in gold – contact key influencers in your industry and local area, PR yourself to everyone and most importantly don’t burn any bridges!
So, if this is something that tickles your fancy then stay tuned for further ‘Tales of a Kitchen Table Start-up’.