When it comes to running your own business, you need to ensure that you are keeping the correct documents and evidences and that it is being kept as securely as it is needed to be.
When it comes to accounting you should keep your documents for at least 5 years and be sure to keep comprehensive records that are easy to find should you need to. If HMRC ask you to show receipts for expenditures you have claimed for your business you need to be able to show them these quickly and if you cannot then you may find yourself having to pay money back and also having a fine.
Its not only for HMRC’s benefit that you should keep records. At times in your business you may need to refer to a similar case you had or to look up details for a previous client. It may be that you want to get in touch with clients that had made purchases off you before and so you need a place to store their details securely. Since GDPR came into force, you need to be able to prove that you have consent off everyone, that you can contact them in the future. If your database is quite old then you will need to update the information to ensure you are still ok to contact them in the future.
When it comes to computers and mobile devices apps are essential. All smart phones allow you to download apps from some sort of store whether it be the apple store, Android or Google Play. Many of these applications are designed for business use.
There are so many great and useful business applications available today that it can be easy to become a little confused about which one to go for and how to use it to its full potential. If you look at the App store on your PC, Laptop or mobile device will notice each app has a star rating and reviews. It is always recommendable that you look at these before installing any new app and also make sure that you have valid anti-virus software installed prior to downloading any new software.
If you run a business you might want to recommend an app you use to your clients. This can build up a relationship with the client and show that you want to try and assist them in making the day to day running of the company as easy as possible. Some apps may be useful for accounting whereas others may make marketing a doodle. Some apps are free to use others will require either a one-off purchase or a subscription fee to be paid.
Unfortunately, there are some rogue apps out there that may not be secure or are built intended to steal your data. Not all anti-virus software will pick these up so it is vital you only install and recommend apps that you are confident are genuine and made by a reputable company.
For many people making the decision to start up their own business whether it is going to be a sizeable company employing staff or a small home-based business is an exciting but anxious time. One of the first things you will need to decide on is a company brand name and how you are going to create and promote your brand.
Initially you will need to come up with your brand name. Give some thought to your business services and whether the name reflects what exactly your business is and what services and products you supply. Once you have come up with a memorable name, you need to double check that no one else has that name because if there is, they may have a copyright on that brand name and you could find yourself in breach of copyright and facing a legal challenge.
Next you will need to come to a decision about your brand logo. You can employ a graphics designer to create a logo for you, but the majority of people will be able to create a design themselves using the internet to give you a few initial ideas if you are struggling.
To promote your brand successfully, use your logo and brand name on all communication, advertising and marketing materials.
In this increasingly competitive marketplace for any business it is important to promote your business as effectively as you can within the limits of your advertising budget, but what is the most efficient way of doing this?
The most important aspect is to get your brand recognised by your target audience. Social media advertising is an effective way to do this as it is straightforward to set up and maintain a social media business page. Advertising videos can be easily uploaded to show product usage and range whilst customer review videos can be used to convey positive comments from previous clients.
You may decide that it would benefit your business to have a website alongside your other advertising. There are many build your own website programs available online with step by step instructions meaning that even if you are not an expert in this field you can still build a simple website for a fraction of the price of a custom-built site.
Although online advertising is probably the most effective form of advertising, if your potential client base is very local it may be worth doing a leaflet drop especially if your leaflet then directs people to your online sites.
A business card can be very useful and as a business owner you should always try to carry a few on you at all times as you never know when you may need one.
Business cards are perfect for handing out at networking groups, leaving with your clients or potential customers or even handing out when you do cold calling. A business card needs to be clear so that your information can be easily read but you should also try and stand out a little bit. You will need to include all of your contact details such as name, office address (if required) phone number, email as a minimum, maybe even your social media profile names etc.
When it comes to designing a business card you should try and keep in line with the rest of your print design for example, your logo and colourways should all be consistent across every platform. You may want to be a little quirky with your business cards, possibly by making them a slightly different shape or texture. Even subtle changes like this can make a big difference and if done correctly and can you noticed for the right reasons.
With 2020 nearly upon us many companies are thinking about how they can kick start their marketing in the new year to give their business the best chance. Many companies spend a lot of their marketing budget online, which often makes sense, but some companies still invest in offline marketing such as leaflet dropping. For certain types of businesses leaflet dropping works very well. This may be for a business that offers their services to the local community such as a florist, butchers or window cleaner.
If you can offer people a discount such as a money off voucher on the flyer then this will often increase the response that you have from the advertisement. It is very important when creating a flyer that it looks professional. If you are a small business you may be tempted to skimp on print or even print your own. If you are going to do this you need to make sure that the paper is of high quality and the images used are not pixelated. Always print off one or two test flyers before you print the rest and double check for spelling errors or issues with the layout which can often slip through.
Recent surveys show that although small business owners understand that branding is important, they often don’t really understand what a brand is and how they should be growing theirs.
A brand is not just a logo or a strap line but it is the whole ethos of the business. It covers everything from logos, designs, premises to staff attitude to customers, customer service and values. To have a successful brand you need to have consistency in order for people to start to recognise your business branding. Before trying to market your brand it is vital to ensure that all internal and external procedures are working as they should and that all members of staff understand the business and how it works.
When building your brand it may be useful to think of it as a person with its own beliefs, values and purpose. What are your businesses values? What does the company believe in and what is the whole purpose of your company. Every bit of marketing you do needs to reiterate this in some way and allow your customers to start to understand the story behind your business.
If you are a business that sells to other businesses then you will need to have a different marketing strategy to a business that sells direct to the public. Some parts may overlap but your overall focus will probably be quite different. The buying cycle is usually longer for business to business sales, the requirements are better defined, more people are involved and the stakes are typically higher.
When dealing with other businesses you need to make it feel like you are a partner of theirs, working together towards a goal rather than a sales person trying to get them to buy your product. When you’re easier to do business with, your customers feel it. It makes their work more efficient and predictable. You may need to spend more time with business customers and expect a slower process than if you were selling to a member of the public but the rewards are often greater.
Starting up a business can be stressful and you may worry about exactly how you go about it. You will want to know that you have all the legal requirements covered as well as your business strategy and marketing in place.
England has a very supportive environment for startups, with a flourishing wealth of networks, groups and organisations for all types and style of new business. There are many places you can go for help and advice and much of it is free, so before you go forking out a lot of money, see what information you can find yourself.
When it comes to marketing your startup business you need to have a clear plan of action. Unless you have a very large budget it is always worth starting small and then investing more into your marketing as you start to see a return on your investment.
If you think you will need a loan to get your startup business off the ground, then make sure you have a good business plan that you can take with you to apply for the money as this is definitely something they would want to see.
Many people say that it is their dream to have their own business and be their own boss but it is not always as easy as it sounds. To be your own boss you need to be able to be focused and to be disciplined to work as much as you need to. This is especially true if you are going to be working from home as you will often find a hundred and one distractions which can easily take you off task. It is a good idea to have a space in your home which is only used for work and which you can go to when your working day starts. You can then give yourself a lunch break and come away from the room and return after. This will mean that you can get all your work done when needed without having to try and work late at night or weekends if you don’t wish to.
You will also have to be responsible for keeping an eye on your finances, your incomings and outgoings and unless you are going to pay a bookkeeper or an accountant, all of your tax paperwork too.