- Posted by Pattie
- On January 11, 2020
- 0 Comments
- business plan, Company Registration, Mailbox address, Registered Company NI, Registered Office Address, virtual location, Virtual Mailbox ni, Virtual Mailbox Northern Ireland, virtual office belfast
This is it! It’s 2020 and you have finally decided that you are starting a business in Northern Ireland. For you this has been a lifetime dream to leave your 9 to 5 and set up on your own. It’s time to realize your own potential. You can finally put into play all the processes that will lead to your very own new business, here in NI.
THE FIRST STEP CAN BE DAUNTING.
You have had an idea and you have done your research and looked at your potential market and you have come to the conclusion that the world is ready to see your business in action. It’s all a bit daunting but you are ready for this. It’s not just as important as those major life events like the birth of your first child or the day you get married but in terms of excitement and that wonderful butterfly feeling in the pit of your stomach, it’s right up there.
BUSINESS START UP: BUT WHERE DO YOU START?
Ok, so the easy part is over, you have made the critical decision and you are starting a new business in Northern Ireland! You have told friends, family and colleagues that you are ready to make the jump and start out on your own. Yikes! It’s a minefield out there. There are so many things to think about, from where to locate your business to what type of legal structure your business should take? Will you need employees, how do you register your business if you intend to incorporate your business as a Limited Company, will you have to learn about PAYE or will you employ someone on a part time basis to do the payroll for you? If you take it all on and try to do everything in one fell swoop from the outset, it’s most likely that mistakes will be made.
PLAN YOUR BUSINESS IN ADVANCE
It’s never wise to jump into anything head first and so it is with business. My advice to anyone is to plan ahead as much as possible, write everything down, do research, make comparisons and talk to people who you believe to be successful in business, for good, sensible advice. Ignore negative people and negative advice as this will make you start to doubt yourself and therefore your whole dream of your own successful business could be put in jeopardy.
TAKE ADVICE FROM SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS OWNERS
When starting out however, don’t ignore good impartial advice, even if it means that you have to make a few changes along the way. Ignoring advice from professionals who have been in business for many years is never a good idea! For the most part you will not be seen as a competitor to them at this early stage and they will be more than willing to share some of their nuggets of wisdom with you. Think of the whole process as if you were making a cake. You have a range of ingredients that you need to source, measure, mix, and cook until you have the finished product. If any of the ingredients are incorrect you will have to source a different ingredient but it doesn’t mean that you can’t bake the cake!
STARTING A BUSINESS IN NORTHERN IRELAND: GOVERNMENT SUPPORT AND ADVICE
There’s lots of information available on the internet that you can look at to help you make your decisions but I would advise that you stick to websites that are renowned for giving good advice or go to government backed business advice websites such as NI Direct, NI Business Info, Invest NI and Go For It (NI)
All of these websites will take you through the processes of starting a business. They provide a wealth of information and advice to the would-be business owner including information about grants and loans available in Northern Ireland. They also provide training sessions and workshops for you and your staff as you take your first tentative steps into the world of business. These organizations are mostly provided by the Government to help boost business and prosperity in Northern Ireland. They can also advise on legal requirements for your business including health and safety in the workplace and employee contracts.
BUSINESS MENTORS IN NORTHERN IRELAND
Go For It provides a range of services including business mentorship and help with the production of a business plan. Mentors are available who can advise and guide you along the way. Don’t just stick to the internet! Make sure to make appointments with these advisors and let your face be seen. Now is the time to start networking. One of the best networking groups in NI is BNI Belfast which is well worth checking out. These groups are made up of like-minded people who want to succeed in business. Some of them are just starting out while others have years of experience. Some of them run larger businesses and possibly employ lots of people while others are one man bands! They are all there to give a helping hand to each other and to refer possible customers or clients to their counterparts. It’s a great way of getting the message out there that you are here and are ready to start your new business.
It is widely recommended to compile a business plan before you launch your business. For very small operations such as perhaps freelance writers, a business plan may not be the way forward. However even freelance writers will need some sort of idea about where they are going with their business and it is advisable to have some sort of documentation about the goals and aspirations of the up and coming business. In spite of that, for most other businesses, starting out without compiling a well researched business plan is like jumping out of a helicopter without a parachute. Your business plan is your “go to” document in every stage of business start-up and development.
A ROAD MAP FOR YOUR BUSINESS
It can be compared to a road map as it shows where you are now and the paths that you will take to get to where you want to be. Financial institutions will require to look at and analyse your business plan before they will even consider providing a loan or capital to your business. They need to be confident that your business is in good financial shape and has processes and plans for the future. A comprehensive business plan will consist of the following elements:
- Executive summary
- General Company Description
- The Opportunity
- Industry and Market
- Your Strategy
- The Team
- A Marketing Plan
- Operational Plan
- Financial Plan
Now some of you may look at this and say to yourselves “ I am ready to start my business NOW, I don’t have time to draw up a silly business plan.” I cannot stress how vital this document is to business success! Without it, when things go wrong, you will be left scratching your head with no sensible strategy for problem solving. Preparing your business plan allows you to explain exactly what your product is and what your unique selling point (USP) is. It details who and where the potential market for your product is, who your potential suppliers are, how you are going to market your product, who your competitors are and what funding you have in place and how you can access funding in the future.
BUSINESS START UPS: KEEP YOU BUSINESS PLAN CONCISE
Your business plan is unique to you and will identify any obstacles that may present themselves along the way and how they can be overcome. Mind you it is important not to think of a business plan as an assignment that you would have had to do in college or school. You don’t have to be Shakespere to compile a business plan so it doesn’t have to consist of pages and pages of very detailed information. Keep it concise and to the point. Avoid using words that you don’t necessarily know the meaning of! It is very important to use actual figures in the financial plan instead of figures that have been plucked out of the air. Potential investors or indeed potential partners will want to see clear and concise financial information such as predictions for the sales, profit, loss, cash flow and balance sheet of the company
CHANGES TO THE BUSINESS PLAN
Predicting exactly what is going to happen with your business is a tricky business in itself! Only the very lucky of those among us will be able to get everything right in the initial business plan. There are many reasons why you will need to deviate from your business plan including changes in the market, staffing issues, wider economic factors and indeed your own expectations. It is OK to make changes. Your business plan is not set in stone and there is definitely no law to say that you must follow every single step as detailed in the plan.
REVIEW THE BUSINESS PLAN REGULARLY
It is best to regularly review your business plan to see how close you are to achieving your goals or to identify some strategies that may not be working. Make sure that you incorporate any changes in the plan by documenting any deviations. Make it clear why you have decided to use a different strategy so that you can review the progress that these new revisions have made at a later date. In the main however, keep sight of your original milestones and growth goals and determine how this will be measured at predefined intervals.
LOCATION FOR YOUR BUSINESS:
When you are starting a new business in Northern Ireland, choosing the right location is very important. There are so many things to consider when making this choice including whether or not the location is easily accessible by all the major NI transport routes? Is there sufficient broadband provision and future telecommunications capacity? Is there a suitably qualified pool of employees in Newry or would a Belfast office suit better? Are you visible to your desired market? How expensive are the rates in this area?
TRY A VIRTUAL OFFICE
In recent years there has been a change in working patterns in that employers are now engaging more with employees and allowing much more flexible working arrangements. This has resulted in many people working from there own home. There has also been a sharp increase in online shopping and the internet is expected to account for 53% of retail sales in 10 years’ time, up from about a fifth at present, according to a report by analysts “Retail Economics” for the law firm Womble Bond Dickinson. When starting a business in Northern Ireland, many businesses use virtual office address providers like Lets Letterbox to provide them with a centrally based Belfast office address. Some of these businesses owners may be located in a remote area that most people have never heard of but they want their business to be seen as city based.
From the outset, you will have to decide on the legal structure of your business. This will determine the legal obligations of your business and will also determine the taxes your business and you as a separate entity will have to pay. In the UK the main legal structures for businesses are
- Sole Trader
- Limited Liability Partnership
- Limited Company
- Social Enterprise
There are different reasons why a new business will decide to choose one type of legal structure over another. Sole Traders for instance face unlimited liability for any business debts but on the other hand they don’t have to register with Companies House. Limited Liability Partnerships and Limited Companies must register with Companies House and provide details of any directors in the business. Many people start out as sole traders and as they progress they decide to become a Limited Company in order to limit their liability for debts or to seek capital investment in return for shares in the business.
STARTING A BUSINESS IN NORTHERN IRELAND: LETS LETTERBOX CAN HELP
Lets Letterbox can provide new business owners with a registered office address that meets the requirements of Companies House. The service provided by Lets Letterbox also provides a service address for company directors. Sole Traders can also avail of an address by Lets Letterbox. Application form for these services are available for download here. Company Registered Office Address Application and Sole Trader/Small Business Application
IT’S NOBODY’S BUSINESS BUT YOURS
Taking into account everything that you need to consider when starting a business demands your determination and your hard work in order to succeed. Be excited about your product and be able to instill that excitement into your customers and potential investors or partners. You need to be forward thinking and flexible in your plans and expectations. You also need to be able to take advice and be able to work with a range of people. Ultimately making the decision to start your own business is a big step but you can make it work for you! The year 2020 is the time to make it happen and to make your dreams come true.