By Max Clarke

Starting a business can bring all sorts of challenges that may test the skills and adeptness of the entrepreneur. Having the idea is only the start - putting in place an organisation capable of taking that idea to market can be another issue all together. Most businesses are started by specialists in one area be that engineers, sales people or consultants. But the range of skills necessary to run a business are far wider than just having the core capability of making or selling a product or service. These days there are a wide range of outsource specialist organisations that can assist in setting up a business. With advice and help on what legal form the business could take through to providing secretarial services or even the registered office for a limited company. It may even be worthwhile, for some businesses, incorporating the organisation off shore to take advantage of different tax or legal benefits. But for most ordinary businesses the choice will be to operate as a sole trader/partnership or as a limited liability company incorporated in the UK. Once the legal form is confirmed then all the other business registrations for VAT and NI can be completed. If the start up business is to employ staff then some form of payroll service will be needed to make sure that the right payments are made to both the employee and HMRC. One of the biggest decisions for any business will be about where to be located. Service based businesses have greater freedom of choice than those engaged in manufacturing or distribution since access and planning rules will limit available premises. But even finding suitable premises does not necessarily mean they are right for the business. A key consideration should also be proximity to both market and raw materials since as the price of fuel continues to increase managing input costs will become an increasingly important part of the final product price. Starting in business also demands a clear understanding of the market and the competitors operating in the region. No competitor will simply roll over and allow free access to their market so expect a tough response once operations start. Finally and probably most importantly, is the need for a clear business plan. This will not only help to clarify business goals and objectives but also act as a health check for resources and identify the key financial levers for the business. So whether the business is based in office space in Mayfair, London, or a manufacturing facility in Glasgow make sure to get some good advice on how to start up properly to minimise problems that could emerge downstream. Start by looking at the Business Link website for your area where a free downloadable guide will provide useful pointers.