Services you need to know about before starting a business
So you have decided to go it alone and the lure of the “start-up” is just too much to not give it a go. Maybe you have spent the past 5 years watching the apprentice or glued to YouTube channels like https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCydShVfAub9TSmL1N4BTlGQ whatever it is before you take the leap, there are a few types of business service and support out there you may well be interested to hear about.
Not every one of these services types are even on the radar for start-ups because of cost but just because you can’t afford them doesn’t mean you can’t understand what they do and implement some of the more basic tactics. This will set you up properly for when growth allows you to employ their services properly. By ignoring a lot of these services and processes you may end up costing yourself more money later on when you end up having to implement them forcefully into your existing model.
What??? Well yes, most people have no idea about this one. It is sometimes called Business Process Management or BPM. It is a bit of a dark art in some respects. It is something very skilled people can offer where they come into a business and literally map out every single process involved in making that business function. They then look at which ones work, which ones don’t work, which ones used to work but don’t anymore and so on. After that process has finished they then help the business create new and better ways of doing things. This can literally bring a business from stagnation to success in 6 months if done properly. The amount of time and money wasted on “doing things the same way we always did” is huge.
The reason this is important for a start-up to know about is simply that employing good process management at the start will mean less trouble with fixing it all later on. Read up, learn about BPM and begin to plan in processes the same way you plan how you are going to create your product or service. Do not wait until you are successful to fix things…start up with them already fixed.
Terms, Conditions, and Agreements – Signed!
When you are starting out it is all too easy, and common, to trust everyone you do business with. This is not to say you should not trust people but when it comes to business agreements it is always best to get things sorted properly. It could be an agreement whereby your company delivers a certain service, or, where a supplier is delivering something to your business you need to fulfil another contract.
Whatever it is, having a solid Terms and Conditions process is important. So you should have a template that you use with various specific amendments for each agreement. However, in the digital age how do you legally get someone’s agreement? Gone are the day of signing a contract. Often a reply to an e-mail stating they have read the terms can be enough but there are also software options that allow you to send a digitally signable contract. Signable is a great example and well worth considering as part of your start-up service list.
OK, so this will come as no surprise and odds are you are pretty sure you have this covered yourself already. Well, business is a brutal place and there is very little room for “pretty sure”. Yes, we all know how to use Facebook and other social channels, but do you know how to use the Facebook Ads Manager system? Do you know what types of words convert better, what images work best on what platform? There is so much more to social media marketing than just using the channel. The same goes for web design. It’s one thing to build a site but to optimise it properly so it ranks on Google is a very different challenge.
Marketing agencies cost a lot of money anything from £500 -£5000 a month is normal even for small businesses. BUT, do not let that stop you reaching out to some local agencies. Most areas have small freelance marketing companies like www.427marketing.co.uk that offer simple digital marketing support. Even if you have zero budget most of these smaller set-ups will be happy to have a chat with you and even offer some tips. Follow their blogs and posts on social media and see what you can learn. At the end of the day, a shrewd business person will see the value in helping you as you may well become a full-time client at a later date.
For many startups working out how to organise the money when it comes in is literally the last thing to be looked at. It stands to reason it’s best to focus on the product or service first otherwise what’s the point. But leaving the accounting to the last minute can lead to a great deal of work as a best-case scenario and a huge tax bill as a worst. There are thousands of accounting firms out there ready to help and charge you lots of money but there are also a few really good bits of software that can certainly look after all your needs for the first couple of years.
Quick Books is a well know option and it can do a lot more than you may think. It allows you to create and send invoices, do all your expenses and the app even had GPS tracking so you can automatically record business journeys. Again, it may not seem very important in the early stages but getting the financial side in place even if there is nothing coming in will save you time and money later on. Cost-wise these can cost as little as a few pounds a month so this is one service most start-ups can afford.
Hopefully, these three services will give you a solid base to build your fantastic business idea on. Remember, you don’t have to actually by all of these services, just be aware of them and learn why they do what they do and bring that into your plan.
It is great to have an amazing idea, it is even better to be driven, skilled and unstoppable in your believe you can make it. But it also really helps to have some basic business services set up ready for your rapid success!