Startup Advice

Four things you need to do before you start a business

Charlotte Harwood

You've got the idea. But what are the key steps in turning it into a business?

You’ve got the business idea of the century. You’ve thought of the product, the name, and even the logo, and you’re ready to unleash it on the world. You’re full of enthusiasm and ready to get going – but hold on a minute. There are some important things to do before you even think about getting started.

1. Market research

Researching the market is a vital first step for any business. You want to make sure that your idea is viable, and that it’s something customers will want or need. If it’s neither, then you won’t give yourself much chance of making a profit. Ask yourself if there is a market for your business idea, and whether it’s big enough to make your venture a success. By asking yourself some tough questions at the start, you’ll save yourself from any avoidable drawbacks later on.

2. Create a business plan

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. Any major endeavour needs meticulous planning if you want it to succeed, and perhaps none more so than a business. Once you’ve researched the market and found out whether or not your idea is sustainable, the next step is to draw up a detailed, professional business plan that will give you a clear sense of direction and alternative routes in case anything unexpected steers you off course.

Check out our guide to writing a business plan for more help and information

3. Think carefully about branding

You might have already come up with some initial ideas for your company name and logo, but these require more than just a passing thought. Branding can make or break a business – especially a start-up that’s looking to make an impression on the market. The type of name you choose needs to tie in with your product, service and brand, and it needs to be memorable so that customers and potential customers know where to go when they’re after your product (whatever that may be).

Your company logo is also important to the success of your business, and since it’s the first thing that prospective customers see then it has to have the right impact. If your budget allows for it, hire a professional designer to create something really slick. But if you’re on a shoestring, there’s no reason why you can’t design your logo yourself initially – just remember, less is often more, and there’s rarely ever a place that Comic Sans should be used outside of primary school.

4. Build a website

In this day and age, a company that doesn’t have a website just doesn’t exist. Whatever your business does, a website is the easiest and quickest way to get the word out – and spread it. Your website should, at the most basic level, be a way for people to find out more about your company, and from there you can grow it.

Like with a logo, it’s usually best to get a professional to design your website, but in the early days of business you might not have the budget for this. To save yourself some money, build your own site – for more on how to do this, have a look at How to build a website [link to article when published]

How XLN can help

We specialise in helping small businesses save money on their essential services – things like broadband, phone, energy and card processing. Find out more about our products and services and see how we can help you avoid hefty bills.