Be creative – write a detailed business plan
A good business plan will help you to test your idea, identify any weak points and is a real must if you want to secure finance. A business plan will also help you to define your ‘why’ – why you are going into business and what you are trying to achieve.
Your plan should serve as a guide but it’s important to be flexible and agile when necessary – it is one of the main advantages of being a small business. Think of your plan as a roadmap which is designed to point the way to your destination, but knowing that when you get there (or preferably before), there is another plan to be made as your business grows.
Things are constantly changing in a thriving business. Changing trends, competitor behaviour or your sales figures may nudge you in a direction you wouldn’t have previously dreamed of. These can require new goals and strategies to achieve them.
Of course, a change in plans may also require refinancing – another important reason to keep your business plan up-to-date. These tips will help you revise your plan painlessly, so you’re in the best position to stay on course and impress a potential lender when you are looking for funding from a lender or investor.
Most importantly and above all else, a business plan is for YOU – the owner of the business. It’s your vision and defines where your business is now and where you want it to go to – it’s the route map of how you get there. Use your plan as a working document to keep you on track and keep you accountable for what you set out to achieve.
Set up your structure
You’re ready to start your new business, but have you considered how the choices you make now will affect its growth? One of the earliest decisions is your business structure: should you set up as a sole trader, partnership or as a limited company? All of these have different tax issues to consider, as well as different liabilities. While it’s possible to change your business structure, it’s much easier to set up correctly from the beginning.
Our team can help you look at the pros, cons, ongoing filing and tax associated with the main start-up structures, to help you decide which is right for you.
Get professional help
We would say that wouldn’t we? Most people who start up in business have a strong business proposition, great ideas, enterprise and commitment. But you can’t be an expert in everything! The next step is to find a business adviser who can help you on your way to achieving those goals.
We have the expertise to help with the financial and legal aspects of starting and running a new business, and the advice to help your business grow. Some of the things you need to think about can seem daunting and even off-putting to the budding entrepreneur. The good news is that you don’t need to be an expert in these fields to succeed in business. All you need is the support of a good professional to guide you along the way.
Find some funds
Raising finance for a start-up is never easy and very often involves an element of ‘bootstrapping’ or ‘sweat equity’. This means founding and building a company from personal resources, operating revenues and hard work! Availability of debt funding from banks is limited, and attracting equity investment at this stage can often mean having to give away too much of a stake in what should be your business.
A different avenue you can take is a start-up business grant. These are extremely popular, and very competitive. There are new ones popping up all the time, so keep a look out for funds such as the Skills Investment Funds, a match funding scheme for training in games and other creative sectors.
Technology companies should also be aware of Research and Development (R&D) tax credits. This tax relief is a government incentive to encourage innovation, and if you can demonstrate technological advancement, you may qualify. Don’t worry though, lab coats aren’t a requirement! You’ll just need a tax adviser who can give you chapter and verse.
Profitable companies can deduct up to 230% of eligible costs, and help reduce their tax bill. Loss making companies can claim a tax rebate of up to 33.25% of qualifying expenditure. Eligible costs include staff, sub-contractors and consumables. You should, however, be aware of the impact of receiving other grant support on R&D tax claims so do take advice.
Sam Uwins is an Associate at StarBox (part of MHA Carpenter Box). For further advice on starting your own creative or tech business, or on taking one to the next level, call Sam on 01903 234094 or email him at