Some resources to start your business
I was talking to a friend the other day who really wanted to get a small business up and running, but wasn’t sure where to start. So I thought I’d put up some resources I’ve found useful both for myself and for others I’ve helped get up and running.
It can be daunting to start something new, but there’s plenty of free resources which can help. In this post I’m going to concentrate on some resources that will get you up and running, and some writing from some inspiring people. This is just the bare bones, really, but I hope it’s a start for building your frame of reference.
A lot of artists start off as Sole Traders – the accountancy is less onerous, as is the reporting of this information to the tax authorities. Here is some information from HMRC on setting up as a sole trader – You can also trade under a different name, as long as you make it clear ie Joe Smith t/a (trading as) Island Recording Studio.
If it’s involving others, and you feel it would be good to keep it separate from the rest of your financial life, you might want to start a business partnership or a Limited Company. Setting up a Limited Company is straightforward in the UK, but as you are then a Company Director, you have various, rather more serious responsibilities.
I’d then recommend asking friends for a recommendation for an accountant. An accountant can also go through the process to get you up and running if you’d rather not do it yourself. Being a limited company has its benefits for sure, one of the main ones for me is that if you’re embarking on a business idea with others, it keeps it separate to the rest of your financial life. It affords you some protection ie limits your liability, in case things go wrong. And as it grows, it’s good that it’s its own entity.
Some questions to ask before you do this.
Why do you want to start a business?
What product or service do you want to sell?
What will it cost to make or deliver this product?
What can you sell it for?
Who will you sell it to? Why should they buy it and how will they hear about it?
What will starting a business provide that you can’t get from being a Sole Trader?
Why would you rather start a business that work for someone else?
What will you live on while you are working on this business?
What’s the end goal for your business?
They might sound like simplistic questions, but it’s good to really get into why you want to do it, because a lot of the cliches are true. You will have sleepless nights if you start your own business. If you’re doing it by yourself, you have to quickly learn a number of important skillsets. Making mistakes can be expensive.
But there are upsides of course. You’re in charge. You get paid for your success. It’s a real thrill when you have an idea, make something and then sell it.
Here are a couple of learning resources I’ve found useful, regarding learning about the financial side of things. Sometimes it’s only when you’re doing it in earnest that one gets a better understanding, so it’s good to run your learning alongside the doing.
EdX have a lot of great free online courses – fancy studying computer science at an Ivy League University for free? Don’t mind if I do. English Lit at Berkeley? Why not.
I found this EdX course really helpful for explaining accountancy basics – Introduction to Accountancy at University of British Columbia.
And this book is really good for learning how money works – its called How Money Works.
it tries to use simple language and explain things visually, which helps. Sites like Investopedia are pretty good for getting further into a topic.
Then you need a Plan!
A business plan.
Business Gateway are a great place to get advice and support if you’re based in Scotland, and sometimes even financing. Here is a link to their Business Plan template.
It’s worth going through this and seeing how you feel afterwards? Are there holes in your plan? Will you make a profit? Interrogate your plan thoroughly. To get more of a feeling for what it’s like to start up a business, there’s a great podcast called ‘Start Up’ from Gimlet Media, you can get it on iTunes. They document the ups and downs of starting… their podcast company. It’s entertaining and pretty insightful, they show the good and the bad.
For Marketing, I’d look at the writing of someone like Seth Godin – he has a great blog and has published some fantastic books on the subject. It’s a way of thinking rather than a list of technique or formulas to follow. This is his latest book, also worth checking out ‘Purple Cow’ and ‘All Marketers are Liars’.
He also does a great podcast called ‘Startup School’ which you can get on iTunes. He really helps clarify thinking about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
This is probably quite enough to get going. In the next blog I’ll go over some resources for getting your website up and running. If you’re a glutton for punishment and you want something comprehensive, this book – How Business Works – should give you enough food for thought. I like the style of these books – the simpler a concept is explained, the better.
If you’ve gone through most of the process and research, you think your idea has legs and you’re prepared to work hard on your passion, go for it!