Starting up your own company is an exciting process. Once you have officially gone through the company formations process, you can start to put your plans into action and look forward to the future success of your business. However, there are a few things you need to do first before you can jump in with both feet and start trading.
Rushing headlong into running your business without any real idea of where you want to go or what you want to achieve can be a mistake. Yes, you are excited and eager to get your business going, but without first laying proper foundations to build upon, you may find that you miss out on, or forget to put in place, some very important administrative requirements that could trip you up further down the line.
Lets take a look at some essential steps to take once your company has formed. Getting these things sorted out now right at the beginning of your journey before you get too wrapped up in your everyday tasks can help you get your business up and running smoothly without experiencing any hiccups later on.
Write up a business plan
Every successful business starts with a solid foundation. Your business plan is what you will start to build your business around, so it needs to be well thought-out and realistic. You can use your business plan as a step-by-step guide to follow and refer back to it when you need some clarity with your business goals.
Starting up a business without a clear business plan in place would be like stumbling around in the dark without any direction. You may well have plenty of ideas about what should go into your business plan, so you should take the time to write these ideas down and weigh each of them up to see if they are going to be viable to achieve. Select those ideas that are realistic and achievable and add them to you business plan.
You can think of your plan as a kind of jigsaw puzzle. You can break you plan up into different sections and small achievable goals. This can help you to work towards completing your set goals in small, easy to manage pieces that all fit together like a puzzle to make up your bigger picture.
You should include sections that will cover your company financing, competitor analysis, what company structure you want to adopt, whether you are going to partner with someone or set up a joint venture etc.
Writing a good business plan can take quite a bit of time and effort, so you should set aside plenty of time to achieve this task before your time is taken up with all your day to day tasks of running your business and keeping it ticking over.
Always remember that your business plan is a flexible document. You can change, amend and completely re-write it further down the line when you have achieved all that you set out to do within your plan. Many business owners completely re-write their plan when their company expands, changes direction or takes over another company. Your goals for your company may change over the years, so don’t think that your business plan is absolutely set in stone.
Assign your business with the right Registered Address
When you go through your company formations process, you will need to supply an address to Companies House and HMRC. Many solo entrepreneurs and small business owners will use their own home address to register with as they may not have rented or bought a commercial premises to operate their business from. Using your own home address is perfectly fine and many new company owners will use this as a temporary measure until they can settle into some more permanent business premises.
The major downside of registering your own home address in this way is the fact that you are leaving your home wide open to such nuisances as cold callers arriving on your doorstep and your home phone being inundated with sales calls. You may think this is par for the course when you are actually running a business from home, but it can become pretty wearing when you get calls while trying to cook dinner or when sitting down to eat with the family.
Many thousands of new business owners choose to have an official Registered Address that is completely separate from their home address. This is good move because it helps to protect your privacy and minimises the interruption and intrusion into to your normal family life.
You cannot have a PO Box number for your Registered Address, but if you don’t have any business premises, you can use a Registered Address Service such as the one offered by Your Company Formations.
Your Registered Address is used as your official business address for your company. The address does not need to be the same address as where your carry out your business, but it must be somewhere that is safe and secure. It is this address that all of your important statutory mail goes to from Companies House and HMRC. It is also the address that you will need to display on your company website and all of your business documents such as letterheads, imvoices and business cards.
This is why it is a good idea to use a third-party registered address when you don’t actually have an office to call your own, or you want to keep your home address private and off the public record. Using a Registered Address service means that all of your important mail will be collected and forwarded to you at your chosen address. This could be your place of work or to your home address, but your chosen address will be kept confidential and away from the public eye.
Design your company logo
This is probably one of the most thought about steps in becoming your own boss. Many people hoping to set up their own business will have spent months or sometimes even years dreaming up what their own company logo would look like. Now that you are the boss, it is time to make your dreams a reality with creating your own company logo.
Your company logo is unique. It enables you to visualise your brand or company identity. You get to decide exactly how you want it to look like before you release it to the world. It is important to get this right as you will want your logo to stick in the minds of your customers, and prospective business partners should this be the path you are following.
Always remember that first impressions count in life and well as business, so you need to make your logo very striking and memorable. You don’t want to go overboard though! Try to make it easy on the eye and does not confuse your prospective customers.
If you are not skilled or confident enough to create your company logo by yourself, then place the job into the hands of a professional graphic designer. Tell them what you want and leave it to their creative talents to form a professional and unique logo for you.
Set up your company website
Having your own company website is so important these days. Nine out of ten people that discover your brand will go online to have a look at your website to find out more about your company. Imagine what they would think of you if they didn’t find one? Would they be willing to trust a company that doesn’t have its own website?
Even if your prospective customers were not aware of you, they will still search Google or other leading search engines to find the products and information they need. If your company didn’t have a website to provide answers to their questions, solve their problem or deliver them the product they desire, then how are you going to get discovered? You need a strong web presence to be able to raise awareness of your company and to build trust in your customers. You would be missing out on so much potential business should you choose not to have a website.
Get a business bank account
When you set up a limited company, it is a requirement that you have a separate business bank account to keep your business and personal finances separate. The sooner you get your business bank account set up the better. You will need it to start trading, so it is something that shouldn’t be left to the last minute to set up.
Separating your own personal money from that of your business not only helps to keep your bookkeeping and business accounts on track, but it will make the process of completing your returns much simpler. Also, having a business bank account will give your company a much more professional image.
When setting up your business account you have a lot of choice. Look at what each bank offer new business account owners – some offer a period of free banking or reduced charges that can really help boost your bottom line. You will not be able to open a business bank account until you have formed your own company through Companies House, but this doesn’t stop you from researching your best option for when you are ready to open one.
Registering for VAT
You may not need to register for VAT if your annual turnover is expected to be below the current VAT threshold. However, even if you don’t expect to exceed the threshold you can still voluntarily register for VAT anyway.
Voluntarily registering for VAT can bring your business some extra benefits. VAT is value added tax that is added to a product or service, often looked at as a sort of consumption tax. While most large companies are registered for VAT, those that are not registered can often be overlooked by the ‘big boys’ because they will often favour trading with a VAT registered company over one that isn’t.
Trading partners aside, registering your company for VAT can also mean you are allowed to claim back the VAT paid on on products and services you purchased for your company. Even if you share something like a mobile phone with your company where half of the calls made are for business and half are for personal use, you can claim back 50% of the VAT to cover the business half of your phone use. You cannot claim back the VAT on anything purchased for personal use.
So, even when you are fully registered and raring to get your business off the ground, it is worth taking a step back to ensure all these features are in place before making a start.