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Start-up checklist

  1. Do market research to check the viability of your idea - this can be informal but involves looking at the competition and checking that there is demand for your product or service.
  2. Set out your business model.  Who are your customers/clients? How will you create and deliver your product or service in order to cover your costs? How will you generate profit?
  3. Do a Word Document SWOT analysis to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your ideas. Even if you're operating as a sole trader, this will help you to focus on the finances and be useful to show to the bank manager.
  4. Decide on and set up your legal structure - sole-trader, limited company, social enterprise, franchise, partnership etc.  For example, if your prime concern is to provide a service that benefits the community you may be able to form a social enterprise and apply for funding help from the National Lottery.  If you are a limited company and employ people, you will have to ensure that you have relevant insurances in place and you will be liable for employers' as well as employee's PAYE. If you are a sole trader you are personally responsible for any debts run up by the business. Read the basics here on how to set up and register as:
  5. Decide where you will operate from. Using your home as a workplace can affect your mortgage, your home insurance, your tax situation and, of course, your neighbours. Check the advantages of renting business premises.
  6. Choose the right name for your business. If you want a website you will need to buy the URL so it's a good idea to Google your chosen name to see (a) if there's already a business with that name or (b) if the web domain name is available before you make your final decision. Once you've decided, organise things like business cards and marketing/publicity materials such as flyers. It's easiest to ask a professional but if you've got good IT skills and decide to produce them yourself, make sure you edit and proof-read carefully to avoid errors that would make your materials look unprofessional.
  7. Set up a bank account.
  8. Deal with any rules and regulations governing your chosen type of organisation, e.g. health and safety, insurance, tax and so on.
  9. Deal with the practicalities like equipment, storage, furniture, email, telephone, record keeping systems etc.
  10. Consider a short training course if you need to get up to speed with particular skills, for example marketing or book-keeping. 


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