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How to start a business

Posted by Mark James on Dec 2nd, 2018 | Becoming self-employed

How to start a business | New freelancer starting a business | Crunch

Despite the best efforts of programmes like The Apprentice and Dragon’s Den, starting a business remains a dream for many. Although not totally without its drawbacks, starting your own business can bring great satisfaction and a new-found sense of freedom.

If you’re amongst those brave souls willing to take the leap into self-employment, you’re probably wondering how to get started. With that in mind, here are all the i’s you’ll have to dot, and all the t’s you’ll have to cross to get that business going.

This article covers:

Starting a Business guide

We’re constantly wittering on about the differences between sole traders and limited companies, and as an aspiring startup, these are among the choices available to you as a legal structure. Generally, those two are the most popular amongst freelancers, but there’s also the possibility of operating as a Partnership or Limited Liability Partnership, should these structures suit you better.

Each of these structures come with their respective pros and cons, so explore these thoroughly before opting for your choice.

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Your choice in step one will have an impact here, since each legal structure requires a slightly different registration process.

Registering as a sole trader is the simplest route, which only requires you to choose a business name and register as self-employed for Self Assessment. Once this is done, you’re all set. Registering and setting up as a limited company is a little more complex, as there are a few more hoops to jump through.

That said, it can still be done relatively quickly – incorporating online at Companies House or save yourself some money via an agent like our own Crunch Formations Service taking a mere matter of hours.

Register your new company with Crunch Formtions within minutes

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While not necessarily a legal requirement (although it is in some industries – something else you’ll need to check out!), it’s probably worthwhile exploring the different insurance options available as, despite involving an initial outlay, some investment here can save you considerable cash.

Professional Indemnity, Public Liability and Employers’ Liability insurance are the options you’ll most likely need, so consider your options and see which insurance policies will fit you best.

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Now that you’re officially a business, your first step is to create a website. Even if it’s just one or two free WordPress pages, it’s vital to have somewhere to send people. You need to ensure that this website sells your products or services perfectly and converts those visitors into customers.

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The next step is to connect with businesses that complement your products or services but aren’t in direct competition. You can build up connections on social media websites or through local networking events. The more people you meet the more chance you’ll have of gaining that all important profit in the first few weeks.

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Building a presence online is a little different to offline, since you have so many more channels to focus your energies on. You also need to be mindful of keeping your private and professional life separate online – friends might be interested in knowing you’re starting your own business, but your clients won’t be interested in the parties you’ve attended or how much you enjoyed that movie on the weekend.

That’s why it’s a good idea to start from scratch; use the pages facility on Facebook and create a business Twitter account – just remember to keep the personal stuff personal, and the public stuff public.

It costs you nothing to tell your friends, family, and ex-colleagues to spread the word that you’re in business, either. Just make some calls, share your Facebook page and send a few emails – whatever you have to do to get the word out. If your business appeals to them, they may, in turn, use their personal and professional circles to refer it to a much bigger audience.

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You probably know that appearing at the top of search engines for certain terms can be extremely lucrative in terms of traffic and sales since you’re what people see when they’ve already made the decision to hire or buy. To get there you need to ensure your content is rich, engaging and informative while connecting with peers to ensure you have links on other websites too. You can regularly update your blog, add your business to Google Places, or invest a little more money and enlist a freelance SEO expert to help.

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When people search for a product or service online, they utilise the wealth of information at their fingertips and delve a little deeper than if they were shopping on the high street. They’ll research you and your brand, see if you deliver what you promise and have knowledge on the area you’re trading in. This is why it’s not only important to blog (or guest blog) with informative articles and advice, but also to encourage feedback and reviews online to confirm your position as a leader in your industry.

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Once you have a website, a social media presence and a presence online you can start making waves to bring visitors and customers to your business. There are many ways to encourage a flurry of interest such as competitions, press releases, guest blogs and eShots.

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You wanted to go self-employed so you could make a living doing what you love, right? Well, now it’s time to do it. Show people what you can do, get creative, and enjoy the new-found freedom that comes with self-employment. It can be a tough life, and it won’t always be easy, but if you love what you’re doing, you’ll never be without a spring in your step.

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In terms of the initial paperwork that’s about it – at this point, the only thing left to do is to get out there, generate some leads to drum up some clients and start building your business. Belief and hard work will go a long way in this endeavour. Just remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day – starting a business from scratch is a tricky old task, but completely worthwhile when you start to build up some steam.

If you need some support from like-minded people who took the self-employed plunge, you can find them in our free-to-join self-employed community, Crunch Chorus. You can also read some testimonies from those who took the leap in our Crunch Chorus Stories articles.

You can also check out our ‘Starting a business’ webinar, hosted by Crunch advisor Ben Schaefer, where we discuss 10 of the most important factors to consider when setting up a business.

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You'll get access to a range of benefits, such as invoice software, jargon-free business guides, great networking opportunities, discounts, plus much more

Useful tools and resources

Business guides

From understanding expenses to starting a limited company, we've a range of jargon-free business guides for you to download and keep.

Invoicing software and templates

Create, send and store sole trader invoices in a snap with our free invoice software. You can also download a selection of invoice templates for all business types.

Take-home pay calculator

Use our Take-Home Pay Calculator to work out your true earnings and see if you could save money with a different company set up.

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