Advice for start-up businesses

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Business coach Julia McDaid has been advising entrepreneurs for many years and in this classic contribution from AccountingWEB’s archive, she poses some fundamental questions for those who want to set up on their own.

When someone decides to set up and run their own business, what does it really mean to them? There’s a lot to think about: the impact on lifestyle, the time devoted to it and what they want to achieve.

Do entrepreneurs really know? I hear from quite a few people who have decided to run their own business or work from home but don’t actually know what business they want to be in. If this is you don’t worry – you’re not alone. Some 80% of new businesses don’t survive. So how to you give yourself the best chance? On the right are some of the key questions you need to ask to clarify your objectives and get you started. Once you know what you want to do and why, you’ve got a better chance of getting it right.

Starting out: key questions

● What do you enjoy doing?

What skills and experience you have, and what you could do with them? Don’t just think about the obvious things – you don’t have to do exactly what you did for your last employer.

Have you researched the market? Look into the type of business you want to run and find out what is happening in the industry, where the demand is and how you could fit into that.

How do you make it happen? Through planning and passion. Start with goals and vision and “begin with the end in mind”.

How do you make it happen?
To get a business off to the best start repqures planning, passion, people and practicalities.

If you don’t enjoy what you’re planning to do, then why are you thinking of doing it? If you enjoy what you’re doing it will seem a lot easier and you will ultimately be more successful than someone who doesn’t.

Planning comes in at all stages of setting up and running a business. You need to start with goals and vision.

If you look at any famous entrepreneur and how they achieved what they did, you will find that none of them did it alone. Most will cite a mentor or coach who supported them. Find somebody like this who can help you focus your ideas, and keep you on track with your plans – a business coach, professional adviser, another business owner or maybe even a friend or family member.

Start to think about building a support network of people who can help you, and people you can share ideas with. This might be through face to face meetings, by telephone or via online communities such as UK Business Forums, BusinessZone and other advice on

Once your business is up and running you will need to think about staff, suppliers and of course customers.

Finally, the practicalities. How do you Start Up Right? Where do you get all the information about tax, VAT, employing staff, computer software, where to work, selling and so on?

Do more research – there is plenty of information from official sources like HMRC and and other business advice sites on the internet. Ask the experts: you will need to use professional advisors such as accountant in your business, so take the opportunity to find out some useful information whilst you are interviewing them.

And once you have done your thinking and research and decided that the business is right for you you need to take action! A great idea is completely worthless… until it is turned into action. Without action there can be no success.

Making the decision is often the hardest part. Once you have decided to run your own business and know what you need to do you can move forward with the planning and research to make it happen.

Remember Nike – Just do it!

About the author
Julia McDaid is a business coach and author, specialising in helping business start ups.  She publishes a free ezine ‘Secrets of the Successful Entrepreneur’. For  more information on these issues or on coaching for new business owners, see

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