Thinking of starting your own business - but too scared to take the big leap? Part 2
Now that you have done all the hard work of researching and analysing (I talked about this in part 1) and made your decision to start your own business, you're ready for the next steps of actually setting your business up.
Choosing A Business Name.
Deciding on a business name is exciting, but it is not as straightforward as you might think, so you need to take your time to work through this properly. Here are some things to consider:
Choose a name that conveys some meaning.
It's a good idea to choose a name that reflects what you do as your potential customers will quickly understand what your business is about. Ideally, you want the business name to convey something meaningful and positive related to your business.
Make sure the name sounds good and looks good.
Think about the length of the name, try to keep it as short as possible. Sometimes names seem fine on paper, but sound less good when said aloud. And if it’s said aloud, make sure people aren’t confused as to how it’s spelled.
Make it future proof.
Don't pick a name that is going to narrow your growth in case you want to expand your business in the future or add additional services or products. Try and avoid words or phrases that could go out of fashion.
Make sure the name is not already taken.
Conduct a thorough internet search on the name. More often than not you'll find that someone else is already using the name or a similar name. Before you decide on the name you should also check if the domain name is already taken, there are several sites where you can check this:
Get feedback on the name.
Narrow your list of names down to 3-5 names and then run them by friends, family members and trusted colleagues. If possible, get feedback from your target audience as well. Make sure that the name doesn’t have any negative connotations (even in another language).
Make sure you are personally happy with the name.
You will have to live with the name for a long time, so it has to feel right, represent your ethos and you have to believe it will resonate with your target audience. Take your time to get it right.
Choosing Your Business Structure.
Your next decision is whether you're going solo or planning on setting up your business with a partner. I have listed some common options of business structure below for you to consider.
If you are choosing to become a sole trader, you can trade under your own name, or you can choose another name for your business. You do not need to register your name. You must include your name and business name (if you have one) on official paperwork, for example invoices and letters.
Sole trader names must not:
include ‘limited’, ‘Ltd’, ‘limited liability partnership’, ‘LLP’, ‘public limited company’ or ‘plc’
be the same as an existing trade mark
Your name also cannot contain a ‘sensitive’ word or expression, or suggest a connection with government or local authorities, unless you get permission.
More information can be found here:
You and your partner(s) personally share responsibility for your business. Partners share the business profits, and each partner pays tax on their share.
A partner does not have to be an actual person. For example, a limited company counts as a ‘legal person’ and can also be a partner.
When you set up a business partnership you need to:
choose a name
choose a ‘nominated partner’
register with HMRC
The ‘nominated partner’ is responsible for managing the partnership’s tax returns and record keeping.
A partnership agreement document outlines the liabilities, ownership, how profits of the business are split and what happens if one partner wants to leave. Each partner must register as self-employed and submit a separate tax return.
In a standard partnership all partners are fully responsible for all debts owed by the business.
Find out more about how to set up a business partnership.
If you're thinking of forming a limited company, you must register your name and any other relevant details with Companies House. Bear in mind; it's essential your proposed name does not breach any rules on name endings, 'same as' rules or include a prescribed or sensitive work without prior permission. You must ensure that:
Your name ends with 'limited' or Ltd
Your name isn't offensive
Your name isn't the same as anyone else in the index of company names (which you can check via the Companies House website)
Your name doesn't include anything sensitive in terms of words or –unless you've had official permission to use them.
As a business you have to display your registered name on all hard copy and digital correspondence and documents. It includes letters, notices, emails, bills of exchange, invoices and even your website.
Limited Companies mush also display:
the place of registration and your registered business address
the registered business number
whether it's a limited company.
Please note, if you are VAT registered you'll also have to display your VAT registration number on your business website.
More information about how to set up a Limited Company can be found here:
Defining the purpose, direction and values of your business.
This is going to take some time to do but you will thank yourself for doing it in the end as it will serve as powerful tools that will provide your business with meaningful guidance for years. So, consider carefully how to write your mission, vision and value statements and don't rush it, it will form the backbone of your business.
Your Mission Statement should define the purpose of your business, it paints a picture of who your business is and what it does.
4 thing to consider:
What do we do today?
Who do we serve?
What are we trying to accomplish?
What impact do we want to achieve?
The North Face: Provide the best gear for our athletes and the modern day explorer, support the preservation of the outdoors, and inspire a global movement of exploration.
Mary Berry: To get everyone baking and cooking at home.
Your Vision Statement should describe the future of your business, aspirations and hopes for the longterm. Keep it realistic, aspirational and inspirational and make it specific to your business rather than generic.
3 things to consider:
Where are we going moving forward?
What do we want to achieve in the future?
What kind of future society do we envision?
Penguin Books: We believe that books, and the stories and ideas they hold, have the unique capacity to connect us, change us, and carry humanity forward toward a better future for generations to come. Through our books and reading, we seek to create a world where independent thinking, free expression, and creativity flourish.
Nike: To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. *If you have a body, you are an athlete.
Your Value Statement should highlight your core principles and philosophical ideals. It should be memorable, actionable and timeless.
4 things to consider:
What do we stand for?
What behaviours do we value over all else?
How will we conduct our activities to achieve our mission and vision?
How do we treat members of our own business and community?
We commit to our craft.
We minimise waste.
We embrace differences.
We dig deeper.
We lead with optimism
John Lewis Partnership:
DO RIGHT: We act with integrity and use our judgement to do the right thing.
ALL OR NOTHING: We put everything we have into everything we do.
GIVE MORE THAN YOU TAKE: We put more in, so everyone gets more out.
BE YOURSELF. ALWAYS: We’re quirky, proud and at our best when we are free to be ourselves.
WE NOT ME: When we work together anything is possible.
Having your mission, vision and value statements written out will really help you run your business and stick to your values through ups and downs. You will know your business 100% - that sounds a bit strange and you may think of course I know my business, but you'll be surprised to know how many times clients have come to me with a branding projects but actually struggled to sum up their exact business purpose, values and vision in short sentences. One of my jobs is to communicate the personality, purpose and the uniqueness of businesses and if every client could show me their mission, vision and value statements it would be extremely helpful AND this information also feeds in to the next stages of preparing to launch your business.
Sales Channels - How will people find you?
In order to reach out to your customers or clients to deliver your product or services you'll need to determine which sales channels are most appropriate for your business.
Sales channels are the routes a product takes from the manufacturer to customers.
B2C - Direct:
Sales channels can be direct, which means your business conducts the sale directly with the customer. This could be your own brick-and-mortar shop, or your own online store.
Things to consider:
How to present my products or service?
What are the ways that people will use to purchase my products or services?
What kind of customer service, after sales service, product support will I need to provide?
Where will I store my products?
Will I need staff?
What special offers could I offer and promote when?
What tracking can I set up to manage growth and satisfaction?
B2B - Indirect:
Indirect sales channels involve intermediaries to help you reach more customers than your business could alone. The intermediaries are in effect distributors and examples could be retailers, wholesalers or online marketplaces like Amazon, Etsy, Ebay.
Things to consider:
Brand synergy - would your distributor's brand perception align with yours? Do they have a good reputation, same values? Are they well known?
Brand Positioning - does the sales channel align with the position you're aiming for? Will it help you position your product on the market?
Return on Investment (ROI) - is there room for an intermediary to earn a profit as well as you? What margins they aiming for?
Logistics - where will I store my products? How long will it take for the products to reach the end consumer? Costs? Reliability?
The channels you choose to sell your product should help you reach your specific objectives (mission, vision and value statements). It may be that you identify that more than one channel is suitable for your products or services.
It's finally time to home in on your brand personality and how you want your brand to be visually represented.
What is Brand Personality?
It is what your brand stands for, your ethos - essentially it's a set of human characteristics you attribute to a brand - like how you would describe your brand if it were a person. You work on your mission, vision and value statements will be very helpful in defining your brand personality.
Your brand personality should shine through and be consistent in everything you do, through all the channels and touch points that you customers or clients may come into contact with your brand. It should give out a clear message for people to understand what you set out to do.
Brand personalities help people relate to certain brands that mirror the characteristics they value most as wells inspire them to connect with certain brands that demonstrate characteristics they hope to develop.
What do you need in your Branding Package?
This can obviously vary depending on your business but as a minimum I would suggest the following:
Social media banners
Email signature banner
Brand Guidelines to include:
- Mission, Vision and Value Statements.
- Guideline on logo usage, min/max sizes, spacing requirements, usage permissions - where it should/shouldn't appear.
- Colour palette including CMYK (for print) and RGB (for web) values.
- Fonts and texts sizes for both print and web.
- Tone of voice and any grammar rules.
- Any specific design elements, icons and types of imagery to be used
Once you have your Branding Package, the next step would be getting your website designed and of course design of any packaging, signage, point of sale, branded clothing, product tags, menus, brochures etc that would be relevant to your business.
Good Luck and Be Brave!
I hope this has been helpful and given you the courage and inspiration to go ahead with your dream of starting your own business.
I would love to hear all about it!
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