How To Start A Business – The Ultimate Checklist

Starting your own business is the most time consuming, exciting, draining, rewarding, lonely, and social experience ever. You’re going to love your business. You’re going to absolutely hate it too. The thing is, you don’t really have a choice. You’re an entrepreneur. You feel it in your bones. You absolutely HAVE to make an impact on the world. So this is it, it’s time to start a new chapter in your life! It’s time to start a business.

1 – Find a business idea

There are a thousand different reasons to start a business:

  • You want to create a business because you feel something is missing
  • A business exists but it’s not been done correctly
  • You want to make a lot of money
  • You’re trying to scratch your own itch
  • Maybe you can see an opportunity in one market that has not been done in another
  • You want to be free
  • You’re looking for a side hustle to supplement your income…

The list is endless. And this leads to an even bigger list of possible business ideas.

If you haven’t quite defined your project just yet, no worries, simply jump over to our business idea guide to get some inspiration.

2 – Choose your business name

Finding a name for a business will keep entrepreneurs awake at night. The questions go round and round in your head. Is the name memorable enough? Does it address a large enough audience? I’m planning on growing fast, is the name international enough? Choosing a name for your business can be paralysing!

It’s also a great way to procrastinate and push back any real work that needs to be done to move your business forward 😉

You have 2 things to look at here: your company name and your product name.

Pick a company name fast

Your company name will typically be something like BusinessName Ltd. or XYZ Limited. It will be your registered business name with companies house and will be on all your legal documents. A business name does not have to have any marketing value. It does not have to be punchy. And you can change a business name very easily at any time during your business life for only £8.

2 things to check before you jump in with your registered business name:

Check if the company name is available:

UK company name availability checker

Check if the trademark is available:

UK trademark search

Your first product name

Your product name is different. This will be the brand known by your clients. And if you make the effort to get your product known, trusted, and ranked high on search engines, you do not want to suddenly go back to square one by changing the name.

The good thing is that one business can have several product names. So even though it’s important to get your product name right, it will not limit your development in the future.

Example:

Google is not a company name. It is one product of the company Alphabet inc.

Before choosing a name for your business, it’s probably a good idea to check if the domain name and social media accounts are available:

For domain name availability you can head to:

You can check if the social media accounts are available on:

NameChk

For business name and product name ideas:

Name generators

https://www.name-generator.org.uk/business/

https://namelix.com/

Brand names for sale:

BrandBucket

https://www.brandbucket.com/

3 – Register your business

Register your business with companies house and really start your business.

You have 3 options:

a) Follow the registration process on Gov.co.uk

https://www.gov.uk/set-up-limited-company

b) Use a business registration service

https://www.yourcompanyformations.co.uk/

https://www.theformationscompany.com/

https://www.mintformations.co.uk/

https://www.companiesmadesimple.com/

c) Use an accountant

4 – Open A Business Bank Account

Setting up a business bank account can be quite daunting. The bank manager will ask a lot of questions about your project even if you don’t need to borrow any money and it can feel overwhelming. And quite often you just don’t know the answers.

We opened our business bank account with Tide.co. It’s an online bank launched in 2015 that makes this whole process a lot easier. 

They offer a great app that will take you step by step to a fully working business bank account. It’s business banking as it should be. Tide also automatically connects to accounting software like Xero and QuickBooks.

5 – Make a website

If your business is not obviously related to the internet you may think that making a website should not be the 1st thing on your “start a business” todo list. However absolutely every business now has a digital element.

Searching the web before you buy has become key for any consumer. You need to have an online presence to get new clients, build a relationship with existing clients and make sure they come back again. Word of mouth and recommendations have gone digital.

And this is true whether you’re launching a restaurant or setting up pure online tech business.

If you were running a shoe shop, you’re probably not a builder or an professional interior designer, but I’m pretty sure that you know how to open the front door and put a shelf back up if it suddenly collapses

It’s the same with a website. Not only should you have a website, but you should know how to make your website and how to fix it.

In the past, building a website was difficult. You had to learn how to code, hire developers or work with an agency. Today, there are several tools available that will allow you to do absolutely everything yourself and without any coding knowledge.

Make a website with WordPress

We are very big fans of WordPress to build websites. There are other options available, but WordPress runs over 30% of all websites in the world, and it’s the cheapest way to create and maintain a strong online presence. It’s also a very transferable skill. Learning to make a website with WordPress will allow you to build any kind of website in the future. 

Learn to build a website by following our step by step guide: How to make a website?

Other ways of making a website

  • Use a website builder
  • Learn to code

Online learning: https://www.codecademy.com/

Find a coding bootcamp

  • Hire developers

https://www.upwork.com/

  • Work with a web agency

https://business.yell.com/mobile-web-design/

6 – Make sure you’re reachable

Host Your Emails
  • G-Suite
  • Office 365
  • Cpanel Email

Set Up Your Social Media Accounts

Each social media account is a great opportunity to build a new shop front for your business. You do not have to be on all of them and you should definitely attack them one at a time. The scattered machine gun approach does not work with social media.

Whatever your business, your brand and name are important. Although jumping from one platform to the next is not recommended, it’s a good idea to open all the accounts with your name as soon as possible. Store the passwords somewhere safe and make your way back when you’re ready.

Facebook Page

Facebook has made strong progress with it’s user targeting. You can narrow down your client personas so much that it often converts better than Google Ads. For products, the Facebook marketplace will give you even more selling options and is becoming very popular. We now absolutely love advertising on this platform.

However before you start promoting your business, you’ll need to setup a facebook page.

How to set up a facebook page for your business

You’ll need 4 things:

  • Logo
  • Cover image
  • Description
  • Don’t forget to change your username

Instagram Account

Instagram is probably the quickest social media to get into for a business. More pictures, less words.

Linkedin Company Page

Linkedin has become overused by marketing people but it’s very underused by small businesses. It’s a great place to meet potential partners. And it’s often where VCs (and other investors) start when researching a new market, so it’s good to be there.

Twitter Account

Twitter is the last of the big 4. This social media is more interactive from the start where you are rapidly pushed towards following other tweeters. There is a lot of noise, but if you double down on your expertise you quickly gain followers for your business.

  • Snapchat
  • TikTok
Get a telephone number
  • Skype
  • Voipfone

7 – Create Content

Fix Your Logo
Create Text content
Get Stock images
Hire content creators

8 – Business Money

Business Bank Accounts
Insurance

What are you selling?

9 – Build Your Product

Plan it
Whiteboard it
Wireframe it
Design it
Code it

10 – Import Your Product

Sourcing suppliers

Sourcing a product from one market at a price (X), and then reselling it at a higher price (X+margin) in another market has been the basis of business for thousands of years.

Today, the web has bought markets closer together. And you do not need to travel to South East Asia anymore to find a factory that will build your product.

Alibaba is an online marketplace platform that links together buyers and wholesalers. You can browse through a catalogue of products and get in contact with agents or factories to buy in volume or create bespoke products.

Alibaba is the biggest wholesale marketplace at the moment, but there are alternatives including Naruvis an Indian equivalent. And like offline product sourcing, negotiating correctly will make or break your business

Shipping Costs

There are 2 parts to shipping:

– shipping/importing: getting the products to you, the business.

– shipping to customers: delivering your products to your final clients. This is a very costly part of the profit making equation.

As the cost of the raw materials goes down, the price of shipping can be more than the value of your actual product. So it’s key to get this part right.

Amazon FBA

You can skip the “shipping to customers” part by using a fulfilment center to send your products out to your clients. One of the most well known centers is Amazon FBA. In this case, your products will arrive in an Amazon FBA center fully packaged. As soon as an order is made, Amazon will use it’s massive infrastructure to automatically pick your product and send it out. 

By using a fulfilment center, you will only have to worry about sourcing and marketing your product. It’s a tool used by thousands of businesses.

There are however 3 downsides to using a fulfilment centre:

  • Extra cost: remember to crunch the numbers. There is a monthly minimum cost + a cost per order. It may not be for you with very low or very high volume. You’ll find more information here: https://services.amazon.co.uk/services/fulfilment-by-amazon/features-benefits.html
  • More organisation required: you’ll need to make sure your supplier is packing your products correctly. Each product will have to have barcode + further elements depending on the center.
  • Lack of quality control: you will not see your product before it’s sent out to your customer. It’s probably best to build a good relationship with your supplier before you go all in with FBA.

11 – Are You The Product?

Define your Offer
Sell Yourself

SELL

12 – Who Are Your Clients?

Busines Model Canvas
Value Proposition Canvas 
Customer Personas

13 – Get Ready For Your Clients

Landing Pages

Your website homepage should be good at directing generic users to different sections of your business. However, most users should not arrive on your homepage. 

Users generated by advertising such a Google Ads, SEO and PR should arrive on a landing page that has been setup and optimised for just for them.

The idea is that how you generate traffic pre-qualifies your visitors. By clicking on your ad, visitors are already giving you extra information about them. You will know what their intentions are. Analytics may even give you information about their gender or age. And keywords will give you a sense of how urgent this request is.

Creating landing pages for each of your traffic acquisition methods will help you generate more quality leads and get more sales. 

Click here to learn more about creating your perfect lead generating landing page.

Pixels and Analytics

If you’re looking to do any kind of optimisation with your online presence, you’ll need to track your visitors. Finding out where your traffic is coming from will allow you to make a direct link between source and conversion rates. And once you determine the most valuable traffic, you can put more effort into generating more of the same kind.

4 key tracking codes for your business:

Google Analytics

This free tool from Google will give you insights into how your clients experience your business.

  • Who is your audience: age, gender, location
  • Where are they coming from: Google, Facebook, PR, advertising, word of mouth
  • How are they interacting with your website: time on site, page/visitor, conversions, sales funnel

Add Google analytics to you website in 8 steps

Google Ads conversion code

Google Ads is the most powerful advertising platform in the world. You can show a product to buyers exactly when they want it. Not before, not after, exactly at the right time. But not all buyers search for products or services the same way, and you need to track that so you don’t waste money on random clicks. It is key that you set up your Google Ads conversion code as soon as possible. It’s even more important than Google Analytics as you are paying for each click.

Remarketing code

You very rarely sell to a client in 1 step.

A user wanting to buy a car, will 1st hear about a car brand on TV, visit a garage, talk to friends, start seeing their favourite car everywhere and then suddenly come across the perfect offer from the perfect salesperson and buy.

Remarketing allows you to build a similar sales funnel but this time 100% online. You can track users that have already visited your website and then remind them of your business with ads distributed throughout their web browsing.

You’ll need a minimum amount of traffic to be able to do real remarketing. Setting up your tags as early as possible is a great idea.

Facebook pixel

The Facebook pixel is very similar to the Google Ads conversion code. You need to track your visitors. You need to know what works and what doesn’t or you’re just throwing money out of the window. This is even more true with Facebook where ads are a lot more creative and reactions difficult to predict.

14 – Marketing: Go Get Your Clients

“If you build it, they will come” simply does not work!

If you don’t tell anybody about your business, nobody will know about it and nobody will buy from you. You have got to get your name out there! This is especially true with the growing number distractions online. 

There are lots of ways for your business to get seen. Some strategies are free and some have a price that you’ll have to include into your profit calculations. Even when a strategy is free, it will take time and your time is valuable, so in all cases you will have to start thinking about your client acquisition cost.

SEO

SEO is search engine optimisation. This is all about being found on Google (and Bing). On search engines you can paid listings (Google Ads) and free listings. SEO is optimising for free listings.

SEO has 2 parts: 

  • On-site SEO: working on your quality content, website structure and speed
  • Off-site SEO: making sure that other websites and web properties talk about you.

You’ll need to balance your time between content making and partner building. SEO can take time. However, the traffic is then free and often high quality.

Google Ads

Google Ads has been our favourite way of getting clients to a website since 2004. If working on SEO should get you into a free position on Google, Google Ads will get you or sure on the paid listing part of the search engine. 

With Google Ads, you will:

  • choose keywords related to your business
  • bid on these keywords
  • show you ad to users looking for these keywords
  • when a user clicks, he will be sent to your website or app
  • you only pay when a user clicks (PPC – pay per click)

The is one of the most powerful marketing platforms around. You’ll have full control and very strong tracking options. 

You’ll find our full guide to Google Ads here.

Facebook Ads

If Google Ads is about matching your ads to keywords showing strong buying intent, Facebook ads is more like magazine advertising where you will be showing ads to users that are interested in your products or services but may not yet be in buying mode.

It is also a PPC (pay per click) platform. You will only pay for each click towards your website. This time, clicks can be a lot cheaper than Google Ads, but you’ll need more of them to get a sale. Facebook Ads has made substantial progress in terms of user targeting. You’ll need to create buyer personas (decide who your clients are) before you start advertising. The setup is not as straightforward as Google Ads, but if you get it right, Facebook Ads can bring even more volume.

Also as Facebook is a lot more community based, you can also gain viral traction if users like and share your ads. Virality will bring a massive return on investment boost.

Instagram Ads
Bings Ads
Social Media
Growth Hacking

15 – Manage Clients

Stay on top of leads with a CRM

Top 14 CRMs – Full comparison

Nurture clients
Quote/Invoice clients
Accept payments

Top 9 Payment Solutions – Full comparison

Grow

16 – Build a team

Post job ads
  • Reed
  • Indeed
  • Work In Startups
On-board your team
  • Notion
  • Almanac
Manage projects together
  • Trello
  • Jira
  • Zoho Projects
  • Basecamp

17 – Sort out your admin

Find an accountant

Find legal advice

18 – Find Office Space

Co-Working Space
Private Office
Office Hunters

19 – Get Inspired

Books
Films/Documentaries
Podcasts

20 – Grow

Bootstrap your business
Raise funds
Sell your business

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