Got a great idea for a new business? Can’t wait to get started? The prospect of setting up and running your own business is an exciting one, but before you drop everything and jump in with both feet, there are a few things you should think about…

Is someone else doing it?

Good, thorough research at this stage will pay dividends, whatever you find out. The internet is a brilliant tool for this stage of events, whether your new business is service or product orientated. It it’s a product, the British Library has an online collection of patented inventions which you can search for free. If, however, you find someone else got there first, don’t be disheartened. Could you do it better yourself, with a slightly different approach? Or are they far away, when the service is needed locally?

Does anyone actually want it?

You might think your product or service is brilliant, but will anyone else? Obviously, any business needs a market if it’s to succeed, so market research should also be a big part of that early research. If you do go ahead with the business, your findings at this stage will help you position your product or service to fill an identified niche or demand in the market. It will also help you make informed decisions once you’ve launched your business, because you will have a clear vision of what it is you are providing, and who you are marketing it to.

Sole trader, limited company, freelancer?

Once you’ve decided to go ahead and start your business, you’ll need to decide what type of business it will be. If you don’t need to take on staff immediately you could start as a freelancer or sole trader. Otherwise you might want to form a business partnership or limited company. There are several options, which you should talk over with an accountant or take a look at the Companies House website. Also, don’t forget to think about your bookkeeping and accounts. They need to be kept in order from the day you start, whether you do them yourself, use a traditional high street accountant or sign up for cloud-based accounting software with telephone support.

Make a plan

A business plan might sound old fashioned, but it’s absolutely essential for mapping out the steps you need to set up and run your business successfully. You’ll need a business plan if you want to approach banks or potential investors, to give them the confidence to support or fund you. And you’ll refer to your business plan to keep you on track, manage cashflow and help you make good decisions that will shape and grow your business in the early years.

Talk!

There is lots of advice out there for entrepreneurs, small businesses and freelancers or sole traders starting up on their own. Attending small business events or joining a local business network can be invaluable for making connections and hearing about upcoming opportunities. It’s also crucial you put systems in place for doing your bookkeeping and accounts – do it properly, and it will be a breeze at the end of the financial year.