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Getting into business: 3 of the most common questions

Starting a business can be a gamble if you’re unprepared. You may not have a business mentor to support you from the beginning of your journey as a business owner, and so you must take on the challenge of researching, planning and learning as you go.

Together, with the help of Peter Campbell of Snowshock, a UK based fizzy slush machines business, we offer insights into the most common questions about starting a new business, based on Google search data gathered over the last year.

How do I set up a business?

Taking the top spot for the most frequently asked query is ‘how to set up business’. Even if you’ve already started, this could be a brand-new world to you, and it’s important to make sure you’ve completed every step.

Firstly, decide on a legal structure. You’ve got some options when it comes to this, whether it will be a sole trader, a partnership, or a limited company.

Then, register your business. Registering your business name is an important part of the process, but this is unnecessary if you are a sole trader. However, you must remember to register with HMRC to advise them that you will be giving an annual self-assessment tax return.

Next, write your plan. It’s essential to keep a document of your business plan. This will include your budget, equipment, and goals over the next year. With this in place, you can then consider the funding you need. Your business won’t excel if you don’t have the funds for it – figure out where the money will be sourced to start it up and if you’ll have enough funding for a slow start.

After that, it’s time to plan your marketing strategy. There are many ways to advertise your company and to build the business. This could be with a website, emails, social media platforms, and much more.

You’ll also want to buy business insurance. There are various types of business insurance that will ultimately depend on your company, like public liability insurance, professional indemnity insurance, or legal expenses insurance.

Don’t forget to consider legal and accounting responsibilities. Your legal structure will determine your tax bill. Limited companies have more responsibilities than a sole trader, such as paying corporation tax, so be sure to keep up with the requirements.

Once this is all done, be sure to store your business records. Organisation is key for your business, and storing important records is a vital part of this. You can use software to do this, and it can save you from sorting through paperwork which takes up valuable time.

How do I set up a business Facebook page?

‘How to set up a business Facebook page’ makes the second highest search term – after all, social media is key in any brand’s marketing campaign. Facebook in particular has the most active users of all social networks, with 2.936 billion as of April this year, so it’s an audience your fledgling business can’t afford to ignore.

To set up your page, simply sign up, use your brand as the page name, create a username, and select the most relevant category to your business. Filling in the description will also allow potential customers to gain a rough idea of your service. However, there are extra steps to take that aren’t essential, but they will certainly enhance your page to attract customers.

A picture says a thousand words. A text-only post will give the audience some sort of idea of your service, but they can’t gain full clarity without an image. Pictures make it much more real and promising that they are going to receive a quality product. Whether you’re flaunting your variety of slush syrup flavours, delicious cupcakes, or retro sweets, the audience can trust in you more through a picture.

Fill in the details in your page’s ‘about’ section as soon as possible. If you save them for later, and a potential customer stumbles upon your page, they won’t have much information to go on. Sections like business hours and location details are necessary for the audience. Facebook’s ‘call-to-action’ button also makes it much easier for customers to engage with your page with options like ‘book now’ or ‘contact us’, so be sure to deliver the best experience possible by enabling these features when relevant.

How much will my business start-up costs be?

It’s important to consider the costs for starting your business to reduce the likelihood of surprise fees in the early stages and to reach your maximum potential, and it’s clear that many people are needing advice, with the term ‘business start-up costs’ being a popular search. In fact, this has witnessed a 50% growth in the last year.

Before starting the business, it’s necessary to make a note of all of your start-up assets that are required for your business and investigate potential prices. This could be equipment, inventory, or cash and operating liquidity.

The next step is start-up costs. What are the initial expenses you’ll need? This might be web hosting and registration fees – check that there are no additional costs in the small print.

If you haven’t done so already as a new business owner, map out the fixed costs that you predict to encounter in the first year. As they are set in stone, you can keep this in mind when purchasing new stock and calculating expected profit.

On the other hand, it’s important to consider your variable costs. Your revenue may depend on your variable costs, and these are related to how many items you are selling.

A 12 month-plan is key to identifying any problems with your costs – perhaps you’re spending too much or not enough in certain areas. Recognising this can prevent these problems from hindering the success of your business.

When starting a business, particularly something you’re passionate about, you’re willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. However, if you’re not clued up on the process, you could be limiting your potential.

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