How to Start a Business in the UK: 13 Professional Steps and 6 Helpful Tips
More people in the modern day are looking to start their own businesses, for reasons ranging from making more money, to managing their own time, to having an idea that they want to share with the world. But how do you start a business in the UK, exactly?
Below, we’ve set out our own step-by-step guide on how to start a business, including everything you’ll need to know and do before you can call yourself a company owner. Read on to learn more, and get started on the journey to success with your new business idea today.
Written by Theo Kingshott
Table of Content
How Do You Start a Business in the UK?
Starting a small business and helping it to grow can be difficult, but it isn’t impossible. By managing the steps we’ve set out in your own time and taking things carefully, you could soon be taking your business or any idea you currently want to turn profitable to the next level.
How to Start a Small Business in the UK: Our Steps
1. Know What You Want to Do
It isn’t easy to just start up a small business without prior planning or thought. You’ll need to begin by considering your options carefully and looking at your skills, strengths, and weaknesses. From there, you should have a clearer idea of what you know you can and can’t do.
Even if you know that you’ve got a fantastic idea that would have clients or customers flocking to a new business, you must not skip over this step. Having an idea is one thing, but having the skills or the personality to see it through to success is another, and you’ll need to ensure you’re coming up with ideas that best suit your expertise. You’re unlikely to run a successful client-based business if you don’t like speaking to new people, for instance, but if you’re a great programmer you might be open to setting up a web development service.
It’s vital that you should be able to answer this question before you go any further with your idea. There are many reasons you might be looking to go into business for yourself, so the clearer you are with your own motives, the better chance you’ll have of achieving your goal.
Knowing the driving factor behind it all should even help you understand what kind of business you should be opening. Having a personal goal and motivation that’s compatible with your business idea is more likely to help it succeed, so if you’re interested in gaining power and influence, for example, opening a company that works in the media industry should help to get you started on this path.
Is It a Good Idea?
You should also be sure that the reason (or even reasons) you’re starting your business is good. If you have several goals in mind, you may find that certain ideas will conflict with each other, and these will need to be worked around before you begin. It’s also unlikely that you’ll succeed purely based on the idea of making a lot of money, as this can take a long time to happen when you first start up.
Hard work will be required the whole way, and the possibility of failure will always haunt any business, so having a really clear motivation will help to get you through the difficult days.
Understand Your Passions
If you’re passionate about what you want to do, you’re more likely to see success with it. This is because you’re bound to work harder and to keep going with a new business if you love what you’re doing, which may see you through some of the quieter or less successful days. Starting a business in an area you’re already passionate about could be the key to getting your idea off the ground.
Think about the areas, activities, and things that you love, or that you have a great interest in, and see if you can make these into an idea for a business. For instance, if you’re interested in health and fitness, you might think about becoming a personal trainer, or if you love animals, you might want to open up your own dog walking or grooming business.
2. Generate New Business Ideas
Coming up with the best idea before you open your business is going to need some deliberation because it’s easy to come up with ideas but it isn’t quite as easy to come up with one that can be turned into a profit. Start out by exploring as many options as possible before you decide on “the one” that you want to take forward.
When you start generating all your ideas, you should be able to answer these questions with each:
- What significant problem does it solve for potential customers? How does it do this?
- Where does it provide a better solution than existing companies? Is it more efficient or newer and more innovative?
- Will it be cheaper than what other businesses can provide?
- Will it be based in an industry or field of business that needs new innovation? Have you got a product or service that could do this?
- Will your business be good for a future need, or for the market in 5 to 10 years?
- Is it like other businesses? Is it better than what’s already available? How can you make it better than them if not?
- Have you got a hobby you can turn into a business?
- Is there another country that will be better for your business model? Can you run it online from your home and look for markets elsewhere?
You don’t have to limit yourself to just one idea, either. It may seem simpler to just pick one and take that forward, but being able to choose from several that you’ve compared will give you a better chance of coming up with something truly special.
It is also possible to overthink, so if you feel like you’re stuck when it comes to ideas, the best thing you can do is take a break. Often, the best ideas come when you’re not actively thinking of the problem at hand!
We’re always happy to help if you’d like some more professional advice on startups, or even a few ideas to get the ball rolling; see our advice on startup business ideas and finding business opportunities in the UK for more information.
3. Conduct Your Market Research
Doing your research is one of the most important steps, if you’re serious about starting up a small business. You’ll need to make sure you know everything there is to know about your target market, for example, to know if the market is big enough to support you.
Similarly, you’ll need to take a look at the competitive landscape, and understand who your competitors are, their strengths and weaknesses (as well as yours), and market opportunities and threats. Basically, you’ll need to know what the market looks like and know how your company will fit into it.
Understanding Demand and Potential Customers
If you’ve got a product or service to sell, you’ll need to know whether or not there’s direct demand for them. If there isn’t, you may need to educate potential customers about what you’ve got to offer before you can start marketing it.
It’s also important to have more than an idea of who your potential customers are, including demographic data (and business details if you’re selling B2B).
Does Your Marketing and Sales Plan Make Sense?
Having a good understanding of how you’d reach potential clients and customers and grow your market share is crucial to the success of any business you open. What marketing and sales activities will you need to pursue? How will you do it?
Making Sure Your Business Model Works
Do you know if your business model will work in the current market, and with the potential customers you’re looking to sell to?
4. Test Out Your Premise
After you’ve done some thorough research on your business ideas, you’ll need to test out and determine if the premise of your company works in the real world. There are many ways you can do this, so the first step will always be to decide what you want to measure to decide whether the venture will be a success or if it will fail. Experts will commonly suggest measures such as:
- How much revenue could you generate? How many products could you sell?
- How much customer interest can you generate?
- How much press can you generate?
We’ve listed some of the most popular methods for testing your premise below. The one you choose will be up to you, but we would always recommend choosing the one that will be fastest, cheapest, and the most robust one for your business:
1. Creating a landing page and carrying out email marketing
If you’ve got a service or a business based around providing a specific solution and you know you want to set it up online, this is often the quickest testing method. Start by setting up a one-page website with a professional feel (including your brand name and logo), list your services and solutions, and add a contact email.
From there, you can start looking for the emails of potential customers and contact them about your products and services. By monitoring your communication channels, you can then find out if anyone is interested.
2. Build an online store and buy adverts
Another idea you can try out if you’re going to sell products online is building an online store. To do this, you should:
- Create your online store (you can quickly build one on WordPress, Shopify, or BigCommerce, as well as other sites)
- Add a brand and make the store look professional to customers
- Add graphics of your products
- Add contact details and a professional email account
- Spend a little money on some Facebook ads and see how many clicks and sales, as well as how much revenue, you can drive
3. Set up a market stall
If you’re mostly going to be selling products to customers and you’re going to be doing it face-to-face, a cost-effective way of testing out how well it will do on the market may be to book a table at a local market or festival. Put together some of your products (or prototypes) and see how well they do with the public.
Measuring sales and customer feedback should help to tell you if the premise will be a wider success.
4. Sell over the phone
You might also try finding the ideal buyer for your product or service, perhaps on social media such as LinkedIn, and calling or pitching to them to gather feedback. You might even be able to pick up a few orders as you go!
5. Write Out Your Business Plan
Once you’ve tested out your idea and have a good notion of how well it will work, you’ll need to put a business plan together. This is a plan that outlines the aims and objectives of your business and answers all the questions on how you intend to make your way from dreaming about your goals to turning them into a reality.
There are two formats that are normally used for business plans: the traditional format and the lean startup. But how do you start writing either of them? We have a couple of guides on both below:
6. Get Your Business Registered
Your business will need to be registered before you can start trading, and there are several different business structures you can choose from to suit your needs. The types of business structure that are “for profit” include:
- Sole traders
- Limited companies (private companies being Ltd, public being PLC)
- Limited liability partnerships (LLP)
There are also guarantee companies (LBG). These are based around a structure used by “not-for-profit” businesses, such as social enterprises that need a legal structure to operate.
If you would like to learn how to register as a sole trader, limited company, or as a partnership, please see our advice on how to register a business in the UK.
Choosing Your Business Structure
There’s no one answer as to which business structure will be right for you; it depends on your operations, your needs, and your aims and intentions.
For instance, if you’re only planning to operate as one person for the near future, then registering as a sole trader will most likely work best. On the other hand, if you’re planning on growing your small business into something larger with a team and larger assets, you might be better off registering as a private limited company.
7. Setting Up Your Finances
After you’ve set up your legal structure, you’ll need to take care of those all-important financial and tax responsibilities. The first step in this will be to open a business bank account. You’ll need to do this before you can generate any revenue or make purchases for your company, and before you can safely store your business capital.
It’s always best to gather information on each of the banks and what they can offer a new business before you pick one. Asking owners of other small businesses about their experiences, as well as going directly into a branch looking for advice and information, might give you a better overall idea. Please see our page on finding the best business bank account for more information.
Understanding Accounting, Tax, and Filing
As a shareholder, owner, or director of a company, it’s likely that you’ll be responsible for filing some accounts, paying various business taxes to HMRC on an annual (or otherwise regular) basis, and filing paperwork. It’s essential that you understand your basic responsibilities if you want to run your business well, stay legally compliant, and avoid fines.
Most businesses will, by law, need to keep an up-to-date record of their finances, including expenditure, income, and any other financial transactions related to the company. Making sure your records are as recent as possible will help you to make financial plans and file your accounts quickly, as you’ll have the data you need already there and ready.
Preparing and Filing Annual Accounts
Limited companies and LLPs have to submit accounts annually. These accounts are records of a business’ expenses, revenue, and financial transactions across the accounting year. Submitting them is how HMRC will work out how much your business should be paying in tax. It’s normal for an accountant to prepare these accounts based on your records from the year.
Filing a Confirmation Statement
Limited companies and LLPs will also need to submit an annual confirmation statement. This is just a check that the information that Companies House has about your business is still up-to-date and correct.
Registering for Self-Assessment
This involves annually filing a set of accounts that cover your income during the year. HMRC uses this to assess how much tax you’ll need to pay personally. Sole traders, company directors, and LLPs will need to register for self-assessment. Company directors will also need to know about PAYE and dividends.
Registering for Value Added Tax (VAT)
Business owners will need to register for VAT if their businesses have more than the VAT threshold in annual sales. This is a flat rate tax that you must charge on top of any goods or services you have for sale.
Once you’re VAT registered and have your VAT number, you’ll be able to purchase products from other businesses VAT-free, so there are upsides!
Registering for Corporation Tax
If you have a limited company, you will need to register for corporation tax within three months of starting the business, or beginning to trade. You’ll be assessed for corporation tax through your annual accounts and you’ll have to pay tax at a flat rate, based on the profits you’ve generated.
Understanding Business Rates
Business rates are a tax levied on a business premises by the UK government, that are then delivered by local authorities. They’ll be charged annually on different types of business property, including shops, factories, offices, warehouses, bars, and others.
It’s likely that you’ll need to register for and pay business rates if you own or rent commercial premises. However, if you run your company from your own home, you most likely won’t have to.
If Anything Changes?
If any of your business details change significantly, you will need to make sure the relevant authorities are made aware. For example, if your registered address changes, you will need to let Companies House know right away.
Hiring an Accountant
For many new businesses, the most practical move you can make for your finances is hiring an accountant. They’ll often save your business far more than they cost to hire, and they will be able to keep the financial aspects of your business in check, from ensuring you’re paying the right amount of tax and meeting deadlines for filing, to offering expert advice and making sure your annual accounts are compiled and sent to HMRC.
For a small business, the ideal accountant will be a local, independent accountant that can give your business the time and attention it needs. They’re also likely to cost less than going with a larger accounting firm.
Small Business Accounting Software
If you aren’t a sole trader and you have more than a few transactions going through your business every year, you’ll need small business accounting software. There are two main reasons for this:
- It will keep help you to accurately track and check all of your financial transactions, and the financial health and future of your business (including costs, revenue, and profit)
- If you are a limited company or an LLP, your annual accounts (that you must submit to the government, by law) require all your records from the annual accounting period
It is of the utmost importance that you keep accurate, up-to-date financial records right from the start of your business. If you don’t, it can result in lost time, money, and may even escalate to criminal prosecution.
8. Getting Legal Protection
When all the financial matters have been taken care of, you will need to protect your business by taking care of legal issues and insurance. In most circumstances, you won’t need to hire a legal advisor right at the start (unless you want advice or have specific legal matters to see to), but at some point your business will need a form of legal support. This could be anything from drawing up contracts to protecting your interests in court.
If you do need to hire a legal advisor at any time, you should always agree on an hourly rate and on the amount of time required in advance for any work you need done.
Intellectual Property Protection
Intellectual property (sometimes shortened to IP) is the intangible property that’s come as the result of creativity. Protecting your IP as a business can be crucial to protecting your business, your brand, and any products you have from damages that could come as a result of people using your IP without permission.
Intellectual property rights and protections you can put in place to protect your business include:
- Trademarking your company name, brand, or logo
- Patenting an idea, technology, or process
- Copyrighting your written or creative work
Getting Small Business Insurance
Having this in place could provide you with the financial and legal support you need when something unexpected happens, such as an accident in the workplace that results in the injury of an employee, or discovering that you have to recall a product that turns out to be dangerous. Different types of insurance that you may want to research and look at for your business include:
- Public liability insurance (PLI)
- Employers liability insurance (ELI)
- Product liability insurance (PLI)
- Professional indemnity insurance (PII)
- Key man insurance (KMI)
- Directors’ and officers’ liability insurance (D&O insurance)
- Landlord insurance (LI)
- Trade credit insurance (TCI)
- Business contents insurance
Choosing Your Business Insurance
You should always take your time and look carefully when picking your insurance provider. Compare prices and clauses between companies, read the small print thoroughly, and clarify the conditions around your policy to make sure it covers losses or damages just as you need.
Going for a firm with a fantastic reputation and a long record of helping out small businesses is probably the best way to choose your insurer.
9. Creating Your Brand and Identity
Any business that wants to stand out in the competitive UK market will need a professional brand. This doesn’t have to take too much time or cost much, but there are a few things that you will need to consider:
- Creating a logo (simple designs can be made online, or via a cost-effective designer or design agency)
- Creating a symbol to use as a recognising mark when you don’t want to put the full logo
- Coming up with a slogan for your business (if you think it necessary)
- Creating a colour scheme that will be used across all promotional material and company assets
Take your time with this and sketch out a few different options before settling on your initial brand. These can always be reworked over time!
Creating a Company Website
Having a website and an email address is practically compulsory for a business in the modern day. No matter what you do, customers are going to expect it and they’re going to want to be able to find it easily online. Any website you set up for your business should:
- Have a clear description of what your company is and what it does
- Provide details of your products and services
- Include your company details, including the name, logo, address, and phone number (if you’re a limited company it’s also a legal requirement to show your limited company number)
- Provide a business email or an online contact form that allows prospective customers and others to reach you
It’s possible to add various other things to your website, but you must ensure that these listed elements are included once the website is made.
You’ll have the option of hiring a freelancer or an agency to build your website for you, but you can also consider building it yourself if you would prefer to do this. There are many different types of software, website builders, and advice and information online that will allow you to do this.
Setting Up a Company Email
As well as a website, you’ll also need to make sure that you’ve got a professional email address that clients, customers, and others can use to get in touch with you. It’s vital that you make it business-branded, as this is a general standard for most businesses in the UK. It’s also extremely important for gaining the trust of your target audience.
There are many sites online that can show you how to set up a professional email, and you’ll most likely want a couple of them. One should be generic (e.g. mail@YourCompany or info@YourCompany) and the other should be personal (e.g. YourName@YourCompany). This should suffice until you hire more team members.
10. Getting an Address and Other Essentials
When you start up any new business, you will need to set up the essentials. Perhaps the most important of these is getting an address for your business to operate from. The easiest of these at first may be to work from home, until you have saved up some of your revenue to move into a bigger, more professional space with a company address that may end up meaning more to potential clients and customers.
If you know you already have enough funding to do this, you’ll have a few options:
- Renting a co-working space
- Renting a serviced office
- Renting a managed office
- Renting unused spaces and desks in other local businesses
- Renting a business incubator office
- Applying for a business accelerator
Setting Up Broadband
Having the fastest and most reliable internet connection possible is a must these days, both for selling products and advertising your services online and for communicating quickly with clients and customers. There are a few things you can do to make sure you’re choosing the best internet provider and package for your needs:
- Your connection should have a minimum of 20mbs download speed and 6mbs upload speed (either broadband or fibre optic)
- You should check the reviews of each company online and research each of the tiers and types of internet package they offer
- You should ensure the contract is no longer than 18 months (you can negotiate a lower price when the contract comes up for renewal)
- You should make sure that the company you choose has good customer service, with a responsive team you can contact at short notice
- You might consider getting a 4G contract and an antenna as an alternative solution if you’re working in an area where broadband or fibre optics are weak
Setting Up a Phone Line
Despite the advance of the internet and online services in the modern day, it’s still essential for you to have a landline number for your business as well. Many customers, especially older people who rely less on the internet and online services, will prefer it, and it’s still seen as a marker of a trustworthy professional company.
If you choose to buy a property, or if you’re renting an office space, it will be easy for you to set up a business line with your phone package. If you’re not doing this, it’s also possible for you to purchase a business landline in London and other cities across the UK. This can then be routed to your mobile phone, allowing you to make calls from the number and letting customers reach you wherever you are.
Business Signage and Stationery
If you have a limited company, there are some specific laws you must comply with regarding signage, stationery, and other promotional materials. Under UK law, you must display a sign showing your company name and your registered business address. This sign has to include any other address where your company operates in your business premise.
If you run your company from your home, you do not have to display a sign.
You will also have to display your company name, company number, registered address, and the country your business is registered in (England, Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland) on any official company stationery or promotional materials. This also includes letters and forms on your website. If you’re planning on listing a director’s name on the products, you will have to include all directors of the company (if there is more than one).
11. Find Funding for Your Business
To start a business, you will naturally need money. You’ll have a number of options to look into when you go to find funding for your business:
- Your own savings
- Help from friends and family
- Small business grants and startup business grants
- Government business loans
- “Angel investors” or “business angels” (wealthy investors who are willing to provide money in exchange for a percentage of shareholding in your business)
- Venture capitalists (professional investors who provide money with the aim of making a return on their portfolio)
- Business competitions
- Business credit cards
- Business overdrafts
12. Create Your Sales and Marketing Strategy
To get your business off the ground, you’re going to need to have a great strategy for marketing and selling your products and services. This is going to involve preparing any goods you have for sale, planning how you intend to go into the market, and choosing the different channels and systems you’ll use to reach and close deals with customers and clients.
Readying Your Products for Sale
When your goods are ready to be sold, you’ll need to start getting it ready for the market. This means three things: positioning, differentiation (or understanding unique selling points), and pricing.
Positioning means identifying the key attributes of your product or service and knowing how you’ll communicate them to a potential customer. To do it well, you should define who you are as a company and what you’re offering to your target market in a way that speaks to the person or people you’re trying to sell to.
Differentiation means identifying and showing your unique selling points (commonly shortened to USPs), in order to demonstrate how your company stands out from competitors. This should clearly show how your products or services are superior to other companies available on the market, from how well they function, to their value and prices.
Pricing is exactly as it sounds: setting a price for your product or service. This can often be difficult when you’re just starting out and have never been in business before, so we’ve set out a few methods of calculating a fair price for what you’ve got to offer:
- Research and collect information on prices for competitors’ products and services
- Find out what your ideal customer would be willing to pay through market research
- Work out your costs per unit
- Work out the profit margin you will be making per unit or per hour
After you’ve done your research and pricing analysis, you will have room to decide for yourself based on what you think will work for the market, combined with what you want to make per unit or per hour for any product or service you offer.
Choosing Your Market Route
You’ll need to decide which market route you’ll take to sell your products and services. This can be a single route, or a mix of several, but should always be carefully researched so that you can be certain it will suit your needs:
- Selling online
- Selling via a retail shop
- Selling via an agent or affiliate
- Selling wholesale (selling products in bulk to suppliers or retailers)
Deciding on Marketing Channels
You’ll also have a range of options available for marketing channels, in order to generate interest and make your company visible to its intended audiences. Finding the one (or even the ones) that are high-return and the most cost-effective methods for your business can take time, but you will be rewarded once you have them.
The marketing channels you might decide on include:
- Direct mail marketing
- Email marketing
- Online advertising (Pay Per Click advertising)
- Social media marketing
- Content creation
Building Up a Sales Process
A great sales process will take interested onlookers brought in by your marketing efforts and turn them into happy, buying customers. It’s important that your sales process converts the leads your marketing has generated, otherwise the marketing can only be considered a waste of your time and resources.
To create the best sales process possible, you will need to build up sales assets, set up a sales pipeline, and get together a fantastic customer service team.
Your Sales Assets
Sales assets are the documentation and any other document-based promotional material that you use in the selling process. This might mean leaflets, brochures, PDFs, pitch decks, or anything else that you can imagine using to promote your business. For salespeople, these are vital to have, as customers will often ask for a written document or presentation during the sales process.
Sales assets should show your customer the key features, benefits, and advantages of your product, and should look neat, professional, and be well-structured by the time they’re ready for use.
Setting Up a Sales Pipeline
This step is at the heart of any sales process. It’s a system which allows you to consistently track the stages of a customer’s “journey”, from coming to you to buy a product to actually making a purchase. A pipeline will allow you and other managers in your company to see where prospective customers are regarding the sale, and can help you to look for efficiency gains and problems in the process that need correcting.
A typical pipeline is just a series of stages, starting with the customer contacting you, to the end of the process, when the sale closes. There may also be other stages in between, but they are all part of the same system. To manage a pipeline, a business will typically use a software-based customer relationship management (CRM) system that can track every potential sale and optimise the system to ensure maximum conversion.
Creating a Customer Service Team
Customer service can often be overlooked by companies, if it’s viewed as a separate function to sales, but it’s important to have a dedicated team in place. Without a focus on customer service, it’s likely that you’ll see an increase in lost revenue and fewer customers making purchases.
Building a strong customer service framework and having a team of employees available is critical to minimise the amount of customers and sales lost based on a problem during the sales pipeline.
13. Build Up Your Team
If you’re setting up a business, you’re likely to start with a small team and as it grows, your team will grow very quickly. You will need to learn early into the process how to effectively recruit and manage your team, develop a great company culture, and learn what it means to be a leader of a group of employees.
Recruitment Practices and Business Success
Experts will tell you that you should never hire anybody new until it’s absolutely necessary. This is because it brings on a large number of further responsibilities that you, as a manager or as a boss, will need to take care of.
When you are ready to recruit new workers, you should also make sure that you are taking the best approach to finding the best people for the role and for your business.
The start of any recruitment process should be about finding and getting the best potential candidates to apply for the position. If you want to do this for your business, you should make sure that you’re:
- Offering a competitive remuneration package (salary, benefits, share options, etc.)
- Showing career progression possibilities for candidates
- Use your company’s vision to inspire them and to make them want to be a part of your business
- Demonstrate that you are a progressive, diverse, and exciting business to work for, with a fantastic company culture
Naturally, you will also need to demonstrate how your business is better than other businesses giving prospective employees the same offer. For example, if you know you won’t be able to compete with other firms on salary, show candidates that you’re better at offering employees the chance to progress.
Setting Up a Strong Recruitment Process
Once you have a good selection of candidates to choose from, the next step you’ll need to take care of is making sure you have a strong recruitment process in place. This should help you to choose the best possible candidate. Your process should therefore at the very least:
- Have a clear timeline and set out the stages for candidates
- Have clear criteria for what you’re looking for
- Be clear about how you’ll assess candidates
- Set up at least three interviews (ideally with different members of your team)
- Have a step for checking previous work references and thoroughly vetting candidates’ claims
Making sure your recruitment process is as strong as possible will help you to narrow the list down to the best candidate, leaving you with a better and more effective team overall when they eventually come to work for you.
In-House Recruiting or Outsourcing?
Carrying out in-house recruitment and outsourcing recruitment via agencies both have their advantages. Choosing which will be best for your business will all depend on your own individual circumstances, and the situation your company is in. We’ve split some of the key advantages and disadvantages of both here:
Outsourcing your recruitment can:
- Help by letting professionals choose exactly the right candidate for you
- Help by eliminating the need for an extensive in-house recruitment team
- Hinder by being expensive (agencies will normally claim a fee of between 15% and 25% of the candidate’s total first year annual earnings)
Having in-house recruitment can:
- Help by letting you control and optimise all aspects of your recruitment process
- Help by being cheaper than recruitment agencies
- Hinder because it means you will need an internal team and resources
At first, successful smaller companies may decide to create an amalgam of these steps, by outsourcing the first steps to a recruitment agency in order to attract candidates and then carrying out in-house recruitment in order to assess them.
Creating Your Management Ethos and System
Excellent management is vital to the success of any new business. If you intend to hire new employees at any point, you’ll first need to create a clear management structure, set up a positive work environment, and build up a company culture that will support both your business and your team as it grows.
If you want your business to grow, you will first need strong management structures in place. This ensures that company policies and objectives that are initiated at the top will be carried out throughout the structure and that there will be accountability for their progress. In practice, this means:
- Having clear structures, roles, and objectives
- Having roadmaps and planned responsibilities
- Tracking employee performance
- Having teambuilding exercises and feedback sessions
Creating a Positive Work Environment
Having a positive, supportive work environment is one of the defining factors in creating a productive workforce. You should make creating and maintaining the best environment possible for your employees a priority from the day you start thinking about hiring your first ever worker, and this should only grow as a core company objective over time. This could mean doing things like:
- Holding office social events
- Having clear HR policies
- Having clear career progression opportunities
- Providing large desk spaces
- Offering flexible holidays
You may also think of your own initiatives as best fit your needs and the needs of your employees.
Building Your Company Culture
It’s also important to outline and document your company culture. People are the main resource of any business, and even if your original team is great at what they do and everyone is close-knit, you need to make sure this stays in place as your business grows.
By keeping your company culture at the heart of your objectives, considering it in the hiring process, and introducing new employees to it, you’re more likely to help it grow with your business instead of having it phase-out.
Staying Compliant with Employment Law and Taxes
You will also need to be able to understand and adhere to tax and legal responsibilities when you’re hiring new employees. These are mostly responsibilities based around legal duties and obligations, taxes, and pensions.
When hiring any number of new employees in the UK, you will need to pay several monthly employment taxes on their behalf. These include contributions to their National Insurance. Typically, these taxes will be paid through Pay As You Earn (PAYE), the primary means of collecting employment taxes from UK companies by the government.
Please speak to your accountant if you need to register for PAYE.
Employment law in the UK is strict, and set up well in order to make sure both businesses and employees are protected. There are several key areas all employers should be aware of before they start hiring:
- Every employee must earn at least the minimum wage
- The maximum number of hours anyone can work for an employer in a week is 48 hours, unless they agree to work further and sign a release
- Employees are entitled to at least 28 days paid holiday a year (this is prorated for part-time employees)
- Female employees are entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave and males up to 2 weeks of paternity leave, if they have worked longer than 26 weeks for the business
- You cannot unfairly discriminate by race, gender, disability, or any other factor regarding recruitment, pay, promotion, access to training, or termination
- Unfair dismissal applies after two years of continuous employment and companies can be fined by having to compensate employees who have been wrongfully terminated
- After two years of continuous employment, employees are also entitled to a redundancy package if they are forced to leave their job without cause, i.e. workplace closures or a need to reduce workforce numbers
Pensions are mandatory for all employees who work in the UK, are aged 22 years or over, and earn at least £10,000 per year. This means you will legally be required to provide a pension scheme for your staff, if they meet the requirements. You can also choose a private business pension provider to help contribute to the payment scheme.
Making Sure to Manage Yourself
When starting a new business, you’re going to find that one of the greatest challenges is managing stress, fatigue, and other pressures while balancing a work and home life. It is possible to mitigate some of these, however, by creating a support network for yourself, engaging in the community, and finding a good mentor to guide you.
Your Support Network
Developing a support network, whether of friends, family, or other colleagues, is essential. They’ll help to keep you going through the good times and the bad, and their advice may make all the difference in your work one day.
Meeting the Start-Up Community
There are many start-up communities across the UK and the world at large, and becoming part of one of these can help you meet other entrepreneurs and business owners, to exchange ideas and advice, and to share stories of your experience so far.
Finding a Mentor
By finding a mentor in your industry, you’ll be gaining insight and knowledge from someone with experience in what you want to do. They’ll be able to provide advice, and may even be able to tell you how to avoid mistakes that they made in the past when they were just starting out.
6 Tips and Bits of Advice About Starting Your Business
As well as the advice we’ve provided above, there are also some helpful tips and tricks that might help you to get your business off the ground sooner:
1. Start Your Business in Your Spare Time
It’s understandable if you cannot afford to resign from your current job and start your business venture right away. One way of reducing the risk of failure (and ensuring financial security) is to read up on everything you need to know about starting a business and get yours set up in your spare time, working on it between your current work hours, at night, and at weekends.
There are a few ways that you can succeed at this, from setting up an internet business that doesn’t require your constant presence to function, to communicating with customers by email so you’re not limited by office hours, to outsourcing services like packing and posting orders if you have products to sell.
You should also make sure that the business you’re planning on setting up is not in competition with the company you currently work for. You should also not start one that uses information or data supplied by your current employer, as this may lead to legal issues.
2. Only Work on It in Your Spare Time
Never use your employer’s resources for your own business. This includes not using their stationery, or answering calls on the office phone about your own startup. You should also make sure that you are completely focused on your current work, during your working hours.
3. Don’t be Too Open About Your Plans
If you are currently employed, it may be best to keep your business under wraps when speaking to your boss. This should help them to understand that even if you have other priorities, you are still currently focused on your work for them. By providing information solely on a “need to know” basis and never talking about it openly in conversation, you should avoid causing trouble.
4. Maximise Your Hours
Make the most of every hour you have available to you for your business, and don’t underestimate how much time you actually have. There are 168 hours in a week. This means that even if you have a full-time job with a full schedule of 40 hours a week and plan to get eight hours of sleep every night, you’ll still have 88 hours left.
5. Make Sure You Rest
Maximise the amount of time you can spend on your business, but don’t sacrifice sleep for it. Being overly tired can make you feel unwell and put you in a bad mood, which may lead to you making poorer decisions.
6. Managing Your Social Life
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to start up a new business and see as many of your friends and family as you might otherwise. If they are part of your support network, they should understand what’s going on and why you aren’t around as much as you would normally be.
Will Your New Business Need New Premises?
When you’re first starting out in a new venture with an idea for a small business, you may be looking to cut costs and save your hard-earned early revenue wherever you can. One of the best ways to do this is to rent out an office space, with furniture, IT, and phone services already included in the tenancy so you don’t have to pay extra. By partnering with Halkin and renting one of our luxurious, boutique-style offices, you’ll be guaranteed all of this, along with an address that’s bound to impress partners, clients, and investors alike!
All of our office spaces are available on permanent and semi-permanent flexible tenancies, too, so you’ll always have the option of moving somewhere new as your team starts to grow and expand. All of our rates are transparent as well, so you won’t have to worry about there being any hidden costs involved when you know you’ve found your perfect workspace through our service.
Contact us today and let’s help get your small business up and running in a location that’s ideal for you.