By Gary Turner, Xero UK MD
The face of business in the UK is changing and we are seeing more and more people starting their own businesses - more than 580,000 in 2014 - so it’s important to make sure entrepreneurs and small businesses know the resources and technologies available to help get their venture up and running.
Here are six golden rules to follow to help kick-start your dream business:
1) Focus on your goal
First of all, accept that setting up a business isn’t easy. Have a clear understanding of your ambition and what you want to achieve – it’ll motivate you through the tough times.
2) Get a mentor
There are probably people you admire who have succeeded in business. You may not know them personally, but don't let that prevent you getting in touch. They’ll likely already know lots about running business, so ask them if they can spare 20 minutes to chat over a coffee.
They might ignore you or decline your invitation. But if they accept, you'll be able to get a glimpse of the business world from their perspective. Just make sure you do the groundwork before you meet them.
3) Find some funding
Investment is a daunting aspect to setting up a business from scratch. Funds, such as The Bright Ideas Trust offer investment, and valuable mentoring schemes offer help to new entrepreneurs.
4) Keep an eye on the numbers
It goes without saying: being able to have a tight grasp on your finances is key to a successful business. Embracing online accounting tools will help you to simplify your finances, alert you to payments due and create real-time cash flow forecasts based on daily bank feeds. The mobility an online system gives allows you to be flexible and lets you stay on top of critical bank balances, wherever you are.
5) Choose your structure
It’s important to understand the difference between a sole trader, limited company and business partnership. This could make a significant difference to your personal responsibilities for the business and tax obligations.
6) Nail your pitch, tell your story
Small businesses may not have the budget to spend large amounts on advertising and marketing, but this doesn’t mean it should be avoided. Sites such as Marketing Donut and Startups.co.uk have a wealth of information aimed at small businesses to advise how to use marketing successfully.