Starting a business is an exciting prospect despite new challenges thrown up by the coronavirus pandemic. Ok, so you can’t host a big opening party or open your dream bricks-and-mortar premises right now. However, with a few adaptations and some creative thinking, you can still get your business idea off the ground.
- Look at what’s changed
Your first consideration should be how the business world has adapted to coronavirus and which of the changes are likely to become permanent. We’re not asking you to gaze into your crystal ball, rather do some research and identify trends that commentators are saying are here to stay. This could include remote working and a preference for online and local shopping, or a higher dependency on food-delivery services and less travel.
Change offers opportunity, and even though we’re heading into a recession, there are specific sectors that lend themselves to new businesses at the moment. For example, e-commerce, online tutoring and digital marketing. Identify an area you have experience in or have skills that would transfer well for your new business venture. There is more chance of your business succeeding if you know a lot about it or have experience in some part of it.
- Create a business plan
You may have the best idea since TikTok, but if you don’t plan properly, you will run into trouble. If you’re not sure where to start, your accountant should be able to help. Nowadays accountants offer many added-value services that are extremely useful for start-ups, including business planning. When putting together your business plan, consider:
- The market you want to operate in
- Who your competition is and what they’re good at
- Your pricing structure
- Where your business will be based
- Your business name and domain
- How you will market your business
- How you’ll grow your business
- Work out how you will fund your business
You’re going to need money to set up your business and how you fund it is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. You’ll need enough money to buy equipment and stock, plus rent for any premises you lease and employee salaries. There are several options you could consider:
- Your savings
- Borrow from family or friends
- Bank loans and credit cards
- Angel investors
- Venture capitalists
- Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) or Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS)
- Know your target market
If you don’t know who your target market is or how they behave, you’ll lose business to your competitors who know this information. Your target market is the people you want to sell your goods or services to. You need to know information like:
- Where they live
- Their gender
- How they behave
- Their buying habits
Once you have this information, you can use it to market to the right people. You’ll sell more because your products or services meet the needs and desires of your customers.
- Go digital
The pandemic has forced even the most technophobic of us to become more digitally adept. To survive, businesses have had to create or expand their online presence. For example, shops that previously sold from bricks-and-mortar premises created e-commerce websites. People are likely to continue to spend online as it’s convenient and safe.
Create a website where you can showcase or sell your products or services. If you’re opening a food business such as a café or restaurant, add a page so people can order online. Include a delivery service if you can as depending on social distancing measures, your premises may not generate enough income on its own. There is also a possibility of future lockdowns where you’ll be reliant on delivery business if you have to close your premises to the public.
- Tell everyone about your business
Shout it from the rooftops, plaster it all over your social media channels and let your network and contacts know what you’re doing. Put together a communication plan to build brand awareness. It should include:
- Your audience
- Communication channels (social media, print, radio)
- The content of your message
- Who will deliver your message
- How you will measure the impact of the plan
- Find a good accountant
Finding the right accountant can benefit your business in many ways. Most new business owners have to juggle lots of different jobs and aren’t usually experts in accounting and business finance. Controlling your finances is crucial to the success of your new venture. Getting an expert to look after them is one of the best decisions you’ll make.
Accountants are no longer just number-crunchers. They also offer a range of advisory services to help you grow your business. A good accountant can help you to:
- Register and set up your business
- Get a business bank account
- Organise insurance
- Keep you compliant with financial legislation and regulations
- Manage and file your accounts
- Register you for VAT
- Complete and submit your VAT and tax returns
Once you’ve launched your business, the fun begins. You need to continue marketing it, assess progress and adjust your plans as you go along. While no one can predict what will happen when the pandemic is over, you can make an educated guess about future customer behaviour. Put a plan together detailing how you will respond to if the situation changes again and focus positively on future growth.