With about 5.5 million SMEs in the UK alone, an increasing number of people strive for independence and are starting their own businesses. Yet setting up your first venture can be a daunting task, which is why it is important to seek expert advice to guide you in the right direction.
With this in mind, Alex Miles, COO at Capital on Tap has answered some of the most commonly asked business questions to assist people in setting up their own ventures effortlessly.
How do I start a small business?
It’s important to note that everyone’s journey will look different, and there’s not one set route to starting your own business. First things first, though, you need to be clear on your business idea, and you need to make sure that this idea is profitable. You’ll then need to create a business plan. The next step would be to register your business and sort out funding. You’ll need to figure out whether you can finance the company yourself or whether you might need to apply for a business loan or grant.
What funding options are available for small businesses?
The first option is to finance the business yourself or to take a loan from friends or family. If this doesn’t work for you, there are several other options available.
There are currently over 100 government schemes available to help businesses in the UK, and checking out the Business Finance Support Finder could be a good starting point. There are also plenty of dedicated start-up lenders available, and lots of high-street banks offer small business loans too.
Another option is to crowdfund. Crowdfunding platforms offer anyone with a business idea a chance to pitch for investment, and these backers don’t necessarily have to be accredited, they can be members of the public.
What are the essential steps for creating a business plan?
A business plan is a way to scope out your business idea, covering things like objectives, marketing, and financials, and providing a roadmap for where you see your company going.
Generally, all business plans follow a similar format:
- Executive summary
- Company description
- Competitor and market analysis
- Mission and goals
- Details on organisation and structure
- Products and services outline
- Marketing plan
- Financial and funding overview”
How can I market my small business on a limited budget?
Good marketing is essential to helping your business grow and develop. Social media is a really useful tool for building a customer base. Email marketing is another free way to get in front of customers, and customer reviews are also a cost-effective way of promoting your company.
Also, utilise your website. Make sure it’s SEO-optimised and mobile-friendly. PR tactics are also really helpful to get your name out there, so try contacting local newspapers, radio, and TV stations to let them know about your business.
Try to attend networking events as much as possible, as these can be a great way to meet both potential customers and other business owners.”
How do I manage cash flow effectively in a small business?
In order to effectively manage cash flow, you need to be able to track and measure your finances. You should know how much working capital you need to operate, what your break-even point is, and how much money is coming in or going out.
Taking out a small business credit card can give you greater visibility over your finances and can also help bridge any cash flow problems if you’re waiting on payments.
With that being said, try to keep on top of customer invoices and minimise late payments where you can. Improving customer relations and offering things like early payment incentives can help with this. Delayed payments are an issue for everyone, so, as a business owner yourself, make sure you’re paying your invoices on time too. Building an emergency fund can also help with cash flow management if you hit a rough patch.