Starting your own business can be life changing. With the sheer volume of things to consider, it can be easy to overlook some essential planning steps.
1. Think about how running your own business will impact your life
Consider how the time and effort required could affect your work/life balance, including your family, friends and finances. Be honest with yourself and note down all of the advantages and disadvantages, so you know exactly what to expect.
2. Understand your market
Learn as much as possible about the industry or sector you’ll be working in. What are your customers like? How will they discover you and your product? Who is your competition? How is the market developing? If there is a trade association for your chosen industry, ask their advice.
You can find insights into a number of key industries on our industry focus pages.
3. Define your USP
A unique selling point (USP) is what makes your business different from your competitors. Try to think about the single most compelling reason why a customer would choose your business over another. This will help you to be competitive and form the basis of your marketing.
4. Develop your idea
Many people start a business because they have an idea without knowing whether it’s a profitable one or not. This is why research and networking can be invaluable. Family and friends may be able to provide some help, but you can also reach out to a business mentor or professional to help you refine your idea and understand its potential.
5. Write a business plan
This document should set out the key elements of your business, such as how it will operate, its aims, budget, how it will make money and by when. It’s an important document to share with your bank, investors and employees because it shows your strategic goals and commitment.
View our writing a business plan guide .
6. Get registered
There are a number of organisations you’ll need to notify to formalise your business enterprise:
7. Get noticed
Once you’ve decided what you’re going to do, how you’ll do it and where you’ll do it from, it’s time to start generating sales. Celebrate your new business with a launch event, inviting potential customers and suppliers. Make the most of free platforms and publicity – set up a business profile on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook and connect to relevant people and groups in your sector.
8. Keep records and consider appointing an accountant
Whether you set up as a sole trader, partnership or limited company, you will need to keep company records. You’ll also need to choose an accounting method and it may be worth appointing an accountant if you don’t feel comfortable looking after your company’s finances.
9. Pay your bills
The success of your business can come down to people’s perceptions of it. So try to pay your bills on time – not just your utility or tax bills, but also your creditors. By paying promptly you’ll also have one less thing to worry about.
10. Review and adapt your plan
You should continually review how your business is performing. No business grows exactly as planned, so be prepared to refine or adapt your business plan if you need to.
Lloyds Bank has more business mentors than any other UK bank*. They’re independent, unbiased professionals who can help you to start and grow your business.
If you are interested in seeking support from a business mentor, visit mentors me.
*Correct as at June 2016
Our Business Resource Centre contains news, insights and events, plus a range of business guides to help you start up and run your business.
The Government provides guidance on setting up a business.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills provides tools and guidance for businesses.
Local councils can also be a good source of information - find out more.
Find out more about our range of business accounts.
We can help you explore finance options to support your business ambitions.