Setting up your own business isn’t easy though the rewards when you get it right will make all the hard work worth it. Whatever stage of the journey you are at, whether you are still working full or part-time, or maybe like me you have been made redundant.

It’s important for us at Wendy Johnstone Ltd to help as many people as possible by sharing everything we have learnt along the way. We are passionate about giving you the best possible start.

You may have already read the first BLOG in this series, Sole-trader or Ltd Company. You will need to start here and decide initially how to set your business up.

Once you have made this decision, it’s important that you put in place the legalities that will protect your business should they be needed.

We believe there are three things that you consider:

Business Insurance

You need to have business insurance in place before you start operating in your business, though not before you start working with your first client. You will need Public Liability and Professional Indemnity Insurance to make sure you are fully covered. To get the best price we would suggest using a broker like PolicyBee who has access to all the products each insurance company provides. The benefit of this being you will get the best cover for the best price.

Information Commissioners Office (ICO)

The ICO is an independent body set up to uphold information rights. You have a legal obligation to collect and store data in the right way for both you and your clients. There is a simple online assessment to confirm if you need to register, take some time, and consider if this applies to you.

Contracts

We recommend that you have a basic contract, this will portray a professional image to your clients as well as providing protection for you both. Its also a good way to set the frame for how important things like data protection and GDPR are within your business.

Once you have a contract it’s important that you regularly review it and ensure that it still supports your business model as things change. It may take you time initially to figure out your service offering, this is not unusual.

If budgets are tight, you may consider joining the Federation of Small businesses (FSB), there annual fee is very reasonable at around £170. For this you will have access to legal templates, a contract being one, support in the event of an HMRC inspection and many more. We found that it was great value for money when we started out and continue to be members now.

One of the many benefits that we are proud that we provide for our clients is that we protect them. By considering these three things you will be able to protect and safeguard your business for the future. It’s like when you buy a car you would always make sure that you have car insurance – make sure you do the same for your business.

Your vision for success

One thing that’s important is to just take some time to think about what your life would be like running your business – just consider what your life may be like. By doing this it will enable you to get into the right frame of mind at the outset.

Once you are in the right frame of mind here are some tips and considerations to help you work through what your vision may be.

  1. Project 5 or 10 years into the future
  2. Dream big and focus on success
  3. Consider what your values may be
  4. Make it personal and inspiring
  5. Create a vision statement

Once you have your vision it’s important that you have goals to achieve it, these need to be SMART –

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

If you remind yourself of your vision, think about what you will have to have to do to deliver this vision. Maybe think about key areas like clients, services, social media, email marketing and networking.

Then once you start creating each goal remember they need to:

  1. Align with your vision
  2. Be descriptive so it’s clear what they are
  3. Be realistic and achievable, though a little stretch is good
  4. Be measurable

With goals in mind, we would then recommend creating a plan with actions and deadlines, which show how you will achieve each.

Once you have a vision, goals and a plan in place we would recommend that you review these documents regularly rather than gather dust in a folder. Your business will evolve and change so it’s important that these are working documents that work with you.

Essential equipment and software

Initially with most businesses you don’t need to invest in lots of equipment and software at the outset before you start to make any money.

Here are some of the things we would suggest you consider:

  • PC/Laptop – the biggest investment when you start your online business, though if you already have one that’s a bonus. If you aren’t quite as lucky and are having to purchase one, then you may be thinking whether you need a Windows or an Apple MAC PC. At the outset I would suggest that you go with the one you are comfortable with, though as you build your client base you may need to use both.
  • Cloud back-up – it’s important to consider business continuity when running a business, so always making sure that your business can operate. A good discipline to have in place at the outset is to make sure that all your files on your PC are backed up so that you can access them if something happens to your PC.
  • Business telephone – the easiest option would just be to use your existing mobile telephone number though this can make it difficult for managing business and personal calls outside of business hours and vice versa. We suggest buying a dedicated business number that can be diverted to wherever you need it diverting to, which can be to your mobile initially.
  • Wi-Fi – in an environment that is now catching up and moving into the virtual world, good Wi-Fi is a business basic. There is nothing worse than being on a Zoom call with a client and you either keep freezing or dropping out as the connection is unstable – not a good impression.
  • Video conference (VC) software – there are some great options to enable you to stay connected with your clients and connections and the bonus is that they are free. A firm favourite is Zoom which has a free option account or Skype if you would prefer.
  • Accounting software – although it isn’t a necessity now, we are fast approaching a point where all businesses irrelevant of their size will need to use a system to manage their accounts. Although this will be a monthly cost to the business, a system will really help you to understand sales, expenses, and profit plus it will save you time. We would suggest you look at XERO or Quickbooks.

At Wendy Johnstone Ltd we help working mums and dads set-up a VA business, just in the same we did 7 years ago. We know that not being aware of this information at the outset can be detrimental.

We've helped many businesses just like yours to get started

If you need help in getting up and running, be it the paperwork, help and advice or an extra pair of hands while you’re getting yourself into shape, give us a call to discuss how we can make things easier.

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