Running A Business – Is It For Me?

Many people dream of running their own business so they can really call the shots and make their idea into a success.

It’s not all about the dream of independence and profit, however. Running a business well entails a lot of responsibilities, and there is no guarantee that you will succeed. Remember that running a business really isn’t for everyone, and you’ll need to consider all of the following points before committing to it.

Can you handle the workload?

Starting your own business is not a simple task. It’s usually much more intense than a standard 9 to 5 job, at least for some time at the beginning of the process. You will almost certainly need to sacrifice a lot of free time and your social calendar may suffer.

Do you understand the risks?

Financially, the risks of starting up your own business are obviously a serious consideration. It’s also worth thinking about the wider implications of potentially failing, as you could miss other career opportunities as a result of this venture and your confidence could even be severely knocked for a while if you’re not prepared.

Are you ready for the boring aspects?

You should be warned that not all aspects of starting up a new business venture are as exciting as you might expect. There is probably going to be a lot of dull form-filling and other administration as you get everything ready and go through legal processes.

Do you have the right skills?

Obviously you will need to be highly skilled and knowledgeable in your chosen field if you want to become a business owner. Aside from those specific skills, you will need a wider set of business skills so that you can properly manage everything and everyone.

What about personal qualities?

On top of all that, you will also need certain personal qualities to help bring everything together. Leadership and people management skills are really essential in the early stages and beyond. You will also need to be determined, and strike a good balance between independence and working in sync with your team.

Will your personal life and relationships work with the business?

Some lifestyles just aren’t really compatible with running a business. You have to be honest with yourself and those around you to make sure you are ready for the pressure you plan to take on. Your business will have to become one of your top priorities in your life, no matter what else happens.

Finding The Perfect Business Location

Although an increasing number of businesses are now able to operate with a virtual office, employing remote workers who can contribute and communicate from home, most businesses still need a physical location. This may be an office, or even more crucially it could be a shop front where you meet and interact with your customers. In most cases, it will serve a combination of purposes.

How to look for business premises

It can be difficult to know where to start if you haven’t done this before or if you’re simply in a location you don’t have too much experience with. Here are a few key tips for the search process.

  • Look somewhere logical – Think about where your ideal customers will actually be, so you can make sure you’re looking somewhere that makes sense. The other businesses around an area will have an impact on your chances of success, and ideally they should be targeting similar people but not direct competitors.
  • Get to the front of the line – This can be difficult, but sometimes an agent will help you do this and sometimes you’ll need to do it yourself. Beating other people to view properties first will give you the best chance of securing one you love.
  • Explore and enquire – Simply visit the area you’d like to be in. Walk around and talk to as many business owners as possible. Ask if they know any properties that are about to become vacant, or if they know the details about any that already are.

Setting up shop

Once you think you’ve secured a great location, you will need to make sure you get the most out of it. Take inspiration from some of your favourite retailers, takeaways, bars and other relevant businesses, looking for tricks they’ve used to extract all the potential from their physical environment. You may notice these tips in action…

  • Location should enhance experience – Customers should enjoy spending time in your establishment, and the look and feel of the place should make their experience better, instead of being a place they have to put up with if they want something from you.
  • Extend your branding – Make sure your branding and your whole visual style are used throughout the premises, as your location is an extension of your business. Choose a colour scheme that makes sense and ensure all the details are consistent with the image you’re trying to portray.
  • Make it a feature – If possible, find the most unique and unusual thing about your chosen location and try to work with it to make a feature of it. If you have one large, plain wall, you could find a striking way to decorate it which can serve as a great backdrop for visitors to take photos with. Perhaps a blend of modern style with any period features in your premises could create a unique feel.

Remember that it might not be easy to find a space for your business and to make it your own on a tight start-up budget, but whatever problems you face there will be a way to get around them. Stay focused, think carefully and get creative to make sure you get a great location that works for your business.

Where Can You Start Cutting Costs As A Business?

Whatever position you are in with your business, it’s always beneficial if you can reduce your overall costs. This isn’t always easy to do, though, and many business owners or managers may feel that they are already doing everything they can to cut down on spending.

If you’d prefer to reduce costs further but you’re just not sure where to begin, consider the following points…

Staff are usually a major cost

Hiring people to work for you is one of the most costly aspects of running a business, but in most cases it’s absolutely essential. If you have the right people doing the right jobs and being managed in a way that maximises their potential, you should be able to make a good return on every employee you hire.

However, most businesses aren’t fortunate enough to be in this position all the time and they could still take measures to improve their return on investment in staff. One idea to try is leaving a position open for a while when someone leaves, and seeing how much of their workload can be shared by other staff. This may allow you to refocus the priorities of each team member and hire someone at a lower price point to pick up the slack.

Get property costs down

You might find that you are paying more than you need to be for your premises. Many businesses rent their offices but don’t need as much space as they have, or could move to a cheaper area. Another thing to consider is whether you need an office at all, or if employees could actually work from home.

Shop around for suppliers

You may have good working relationships with your suppliers, but you’re not necessarily getting the best prices. Ensure you review your long term business partnerships regularly to make sure you’re still getting a competitive deal. For anything new that you need to buy, get several quotes and compare to find the best value solution.

Remember that small costs add up

Make sure you don’t forget about seemingly insignificant costs which can quickly add up over time. You might not realise how much things are really costing because some things are paid annually, some monthly, some weekly and some only rarely. Make sure everything is written down and reviewed formally on a regular basis so you can quickly identify areas you could save money on.

Turning Your Idea into a Business

Once you come up with an original business idea that you really have confidence in, there’s nothing to say you shouldn’t run with it and turn it into reality. That being said, it might not be that easy for you to jump straight in. The process you follow as an individual starting out in business will vary every time, but there are some things you may consider to get you started and prompt you on where to look next with each step.

1) Make sure you’re confident in your idea. Get some feedback from people you trust to ensure you’re not getting caught up in your own bubble. Ensure your pitch is clear so you can explain to potential partners and customers what you’re bringing to the market.

2) Make a clear link between your past experience and your end goal. You need to plan how you’re going to apply your existing skills and relevant knowledge to this new business.

3) Know your audience like the back of your hand, and hurl yourself into as much market research as you need to be extremely comfortable with the arena you’re heading into.

4) Look for inspiration from existing successful businesses. Compare your idea to similar ones in different fields if possible, and find a business model you can apply. Case studies are vital for giving you ideas of potential trajectories for your idea.

5) Identify what skills you’re currently lacking which you know you will need to build on in order to succeed in your new business venture. Knowing your weaknesses will help you employ the right people and learn the right lessons early on.

6) Be prepared to face more problems and setbacks than you originally wanted. Don’t let this prospect get you down, as it’s a necessary part of getting your vision to come to life.

7) Make sure you make a good head-start on your actual product or service before you fully throw yourself into marketing, to ensure you under-promise and over-deliver rather than the other way round.

8) Trust your instincts in order to find out the answers to those burning questions. If you spend too much time stalling and worrying, you’ll fail to achieve your potential.

Are E-commerce Businesses Ready For Christmas?

At this time of the year, it seems like an overwhelming and impossible task to run a successful online retail business. Not only is the traditional Christmas rush almost upon us, but more recent innovations like Cyber Monday also affect a huge section of the online retail market.

Of course, the biggest of these is Black Friday, the American shopping event that suddenly exploded in popularity in the UK a couple of years ago, with fairly chaotic results all round. Retailers and supermarkets attempted to copy the US-style early morning opening times, facing crowds of desperate bargain hunters looking for cheap deals. With widespread chaos and disappointment on both sides, there was a noticeable shift in how Black Friday was handled in 2015, which has continued this year.

For one thing, online retailers are really taking the lead while physical shops reign in the hysteria. It’s easier to drop prices across a website than a high street store, and certainly less destructive when unexpected hordes of customers arrive to snatch those special offers. For another, Christmas is still by far the most profitable feature of the season for retailers, so marketing efforts remain focused on this.

Recent research in the UK by ChannelAdvisor showed that 47% of online businesses in the retail sector were anticipating better sales this year than they experienced last year over the Christmas period. Almost as many retailers said they had been planning their winter promotions since the summer, with many actually starting as early as January.

The research also showed that many retailers are making more use of technology and different sales channels than ever before. More than half of respondents have a mobile application for their customers to buy through, and even more used social media to advertise. This all stems from customers’ standards always getting higher, so companies need to keep up in order to remain competitive. Only time will really tell which online retailers are truly prepared for the trials of December and January, so it will be interesting to find out later which ones see the most success.

Confidential Shredding

Choosing the correct waste management solutions for your business

Waste management can quickly become a complicated issue for business owners. If you’re leading a new start-up, you might have to adapt quickly to make sure your actions are compliant with regulations, cost effective and environmentally friendly. Many comprehensive waste management companies such as Green Plan-it in the Midlands offer a variety of recycling solutions for dealing with each type of waste typically produced by businesses, so ideally you will be able to find an all-in-one solution that’s suitable for you. Each waste stream can be dealt with as follows.

General Waste

Almost every single business will create a certain amount of general waste that needs to be collected regularly and disposed of. Having said that, you may be able to recycle a higher proportion of that waste than you originally thought, minimising the amount that goes to landfill sites. Commercial waste collection companies sometimes offer free audits and consultations to help you do more of this.

General Recycling

Once you are able to identify materials that can easily be recycled, you should have a system in place within your business to ensure all employees can help organise your commercial waste properly. Non-confidential papers can be recycled along with card, plastic, glass and many types of metal. These may be sorted on-site, or collected together to be sorted later. Continue reading

CCTV system

Improving your office or warehouse security

Security is a major concern for all of us in our day-to-day lives. We may spend a lot of time preoccupied with our personal security when it comes to protecting our homes, finances and so on, and rightly so. However, business security can be even more important and sensitive, since you may be responsible for the safety and security of your employees and your customers as well as looking after your own interests.

Despite this, many business owners still fail to install proper security measures, and may forget about easy things that can be done to increase security at an office, warehouse, factory or any other workplace. Here are some ideas you may want to look at in detail.

1) CCTV system

Modern camera systems overlooking the exterior and interior of your building are an essential security measure in most cases. They can act as a deterrent as well as offering invaluable insights into any security breaches you do experience. Remote viewing is a great benefit, especially if you can view the live feed from a mobile app. Continue reading

Risk Assessment and Management

Health and safety is something of a nightmare for many business owners, and as a new business the last thing you want is to get tangled up in red tape. Some people have a certain perception of risk assessment practices as overly cautious and more of a burden than anything else. However, getting professional consultation on UK health and safety issues is vital across many different industries, and you can’t afford to get this wrong when you’re just starting out. Here are some of the different areas you might need to consider depending on your niche.


In the construction industry, health and safety is obviously an issue due to the involvement of heavy machinery, working in potentially unsafe buildings and so on. However, risk assessment in this field should go far beyond the obvious. Hazardous chemicals used on sites such as paint and substances used to treat wood or metal can have devastating long term health effects. Cancer rates within construction are particularly high, which has largely been attributed to asbestos but is also closely linked to fumes from paint and petrol. Excessive noise and vibration must also be assessed formally as these pose a high risk. Continue reading

Shipping Solutions For Start-Ups

If you’re running a business online then there are infinite considerations to be made, which you will have realised already by this point. However, one of the most important steps in taking your idea from concept to reality is figuring out the logistics of distributing your product. How you are going to sell it, where it’s going to be available and who is going to transport it from you to your customer are just a few of the crucial points to decide before you get started.

1) Local Logistics

Firstly, let’s start by imagining that someone places an order with your business and it’s a relatively local delivery. For example, you might be based in London and find you have more than enough customers in the region to get you started before expanding to the whole of the UK. The chances are you’re going to be best off working with a local specialist who is able to make your deliveries regularly and keep costs low, so a cheap man and van hire in London is going to be suitable at this level. This involves your chosen delivery company visiting you once or twice a day to pick up your goods and get them shipped to your buyers. You can enjoy the benefits of a quick, local and reliable service that will be happy to do business with you, until you need to cast a much wider net, that is. Continue reading


Financial Services That Can Help Start New Businesses

business finance

Starting a business can be a financial headache in which the owners must worry about records keeping, taxes, laws, regulations and other money matters. In many instances, it makes sense to utilise financial services providers that help new companies with all these needs. This end of running a business can be very difficult, especially for companies that do not have a dedicated accountant. Even simple things like company registration can be problematic if you do not know where to start. Fortunately, there are agencies that provide financial services for those that are in the formation stage. They can help new businesses with every matter from choosing financing options to intellectual property management. For example, a company may need capital to help them get the equipment they need to start. Perhaps they are going into agriculture and would like to acquire specialised equipment that might not be readily available.

Looking for specialised manufacturing such as one that uses resistance welding to build the needed agricultural equipment may mean costs that can be way out of budget. Financial services can then step in and study how the payment terms should be so that it has very minimal impact on the start-up.

Start-up capital may come from sources like angel investors or venture capitalists. Once the company is in operation, there may be further need for options. Some companies may qualify for traditional bank loans.

However, in the current economic climate, traditional financing is very difficult to obtain. Instead, many firms must turn to other options like accounts receivable financing or secured lending. Each of these options has their own advantages and disadvantages.

Business services can help clients in making the right the decisions concerning lending and other money matters. They can help companies in dealing with complex regulatory schemes that they must comply with in order to do business. You can hire an auditor and bookkeeper to keep track of your merchandise. Stocktakers provide expert advice on how to achieve your business goals.

They can also help you in deciding what type of company structure is best for you. In some cases, a sole trader setup would be suitable while partnerships and limited companies may be the right choice in other instances.

Incorporation as a limited company, for example, provides you with some protection against legal liability. However, this option will require registration along with knowledge of how to set up the articles of association, shares and directors.

Handling money matters internally can be difficult for young companies, especially when they do not have sufficient expertise and experience. Rather than spending time, money and energy learning about varied financial regulations, procedures and options, they could apply better use of their resources on the core mission of their company.

By outsourcing these needs to financial services providers, they can concentrate more on growing their business and achieving profitability. Reputable accounting firms like Manchester based Alexander Bursk, can help keep your company on track with everything from efficient payroll to sound business advice.


Find A Property To Start Up Your Business

business properties

There are many factors that contribute to finding your best property for a start-up business. For instance, you may want to find a flexible office space, a retail shop or a heated warehouse for your products or services. You may also require commercial storage & equipment space, as well as front and rear parking lots and a loading area. This can be all sorted out thanks to the help of this professional guide and an estate agent. According to experienced estate agents, the process of starting a company involves lots of planning and making key legal actions required by law.

For instance, if you’re a business owner and want to find an old factory that could be converted to a retail shop, an office or warehouse as it will have plenty of commercial storage & equipment space.

If you need commercial storage, in particular, you will need to consider whether you need a basic warehouse, compartment and whether it will need to be temperature controlled. This is especially important for businesses who supply food. Make sure to find a company that is MHRA approved and only has the highest standards in service, like Harlow Group Storage. This company prides itself on their expertise in warehousing, 24-hour surveillance, and exceptional logistics.

However, you will have to sort out a commercial lease agreement that requires a “Commercial Lease Extension Agreement” that is mandatory for all new companies. Moreover, this Commercial Lease Agreement is all important for company owners because it details the terms of the business arrangement so there are no misunderstandings that may result in litigation down the road.

Making sure the building is suitable for your requirements

Once you’ve found the right premises for your business, one of the most important things you’ll need to assess is health and safety. Hiring a consultant who is knowledgeable in current UK health and safety laws and policies will ensure that you’re covered against any potential legal issues down the line. A good consultancy will be able to help you with risk assessments such as fire safety, waste management, resource efficiency and dangerous goods safety advice.