[How-to] Start a Business in Your Lunch Hour
Never has it been easier to get your business idea up and running.
Thanks to crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter to help you secure the cash, and easy-to-build websites like Wix, to online legal services you can understand and afford like Rocket Lawyer, the first steps needn’t be time-consuming.
Name your business
Run your shortlist of names through Companies House to see whether it has already been registered and remember that it shouldn’t cause any confusion or be obscene.
Once settled, secure a domain for your website. For some, the unavailability of domain names with ‘.com’ or ‘.co.uk’ means the preferred business name has to change, so if availability is important, check this first.
For many new businesses, two or three social media accounts is sufficient, Facebook and Twitter being the most popular. Bear in mind character restrictions as you will have to work around this for longer brand names. Register your accounts as soon as possible to prevent social media cyber-squatting.
Business structure and registering with HMRC (or European equivalent)
Whether you operate as a sole trader, within a partnership, private limited company or limited liability partnership, your choice of business structure is a commitment that will affect the amount of tax you and/or your business will pay and determine whether you are eligible for certain tax reliefs and grants.
Thinking about all the options from the get-go will most certainly save you time and money in the long run.
Start on solid legal ground
Every business will need legal documents at some point, be they employment contracts, partnership agreements or health and safety policies as your business grows. Making sure you have solid legal footing from the start will prevent you from falling into common legal issues in the future.
If time or money poses an issue, an online legal service for small businesses like Rocket Lawyer could be a real viable solution. Most documents take less than 20 minutes to create and membership costs £25 a month compared to the potential hundreds or thousands you might pay to outsource the task.
The best way to road-test an idea is to seek advice from trusted friends and colleagues. If you need to disclose highly sensitive information though, you could be putting yourself at risk of intellectual property theft. The best way to protect your business is to simply draw up a confidentiality agreement.
Set up a business bank account to keep your personal and business finances separate for tax purposes, then get a set of business cards to make those first impressions last - MOO is great for more creative designs.
Don’t forget to add social media contacts as these could prove to be the most valuable when making that re-connection.
There you have it! Don’t be afraid to bring into fruition those ideas you’ve been sitting on. Look for inspiration in those spare moments on your way to and from work, or even better, during that golden lunch hour which often goes by in an unmemorable flash.
Author: Mark Edwards, General Manager at www.rocketlawyer.co.uk, an online legal service providing businesses with easy-to-use, professional legal documents and affordable help from specialist lawyers.
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