How to turn an idea into business – your first steps

Are you toying with a business idea but not sure how to get it off the ground? We share some practical tips to help you take your first steps as an entrepreneur.

Becoming a parent forces you to re-evaluate your priorities, so it’s no wonder that more and more mums are seeking new ways of creating the perfect work-life balance. And one way to ensure the flexibility of working around your family is to start up your own business.

If you’re considering starting your own business, you’re not alone. There has been a rise in the number of parentpreneurs in the UK, and thanks to the internet making it easier than ever to get a brilliant business idea up and running, this number is set to increase.

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Taking your first steps is easy

And the good news is that, with a multitude of services available at your fingertips, making the first steps needn’t be complicated or time-consuming – as Mark Edwards, General Manager of Rocket Lawyer, explains.

Advice and investment

If honesty and constructive criticism is what you’re after, you know you can always rely on family and friends! They’re going to be the most forthcoming so do test out your business idea on them and ask for their opinions and guidance.

Use any spare time you might have after the school run or whilst waiting at the school gates to make a few phone calls for advice on-the-go and to bounce a few ideas around.

Friends and family may also be your easiest source of funding if you need a cash injection to help get you started, so float the idea to those who may be particularly keen – emphasise that there is no pressure though and that their advice is invaluable too! In addition, they may know someone who might be interested if they aren’t, or can’t, so it doesn’t hurt to ask!

Alternatively, you can even seek investment from the public and ‘crowdfund’ through popular sites like Kickstarter and Crowdcube.

Creating an identity for your business

One of the most exciting steps to setting up a business is choosing a name. You’ve probably got a few in mind so keep them organised in one place to make it easier for you to shortlist. Head back to your friends and family for their opinion too.

Once you’ve settled on a shortlist, enter them through Companies House, it takes just a few seconds to find out whether the name has already been registered and this could protect you from future potential name infringement issues.

With social media, you may only need to create two to three accounts, Facebook and Twitter being the most popular and valuable free marketing and networking tools.

Tax doesn’t have to be taxing

I’m afraid this part is necessary! You must register your business for tax purposes which you can do online through HMRC very easily.

Make sure you’re organised from the start, keep and file all your paperwork e.g. invoices, receipts etc neatly so you can pull them out when you tally up the numbers at the end of every business year.

Make sure you’re on solid legal footing

As your business grows, you may need to think about taking on extra staff to help you with the workload. Even if you hire help from close friends and family, drawing up an employment contract is still a necessary (and legal) requirement!

If you don’t know where to start and don’t have the budget for a lawyer to draw one up, there are great online legal services like Rocket Lawyer that allow you to create one quickly, easily and affordably (even free if you sign up to the one-week free trial).

Make sure you issue a contract within two months of employment or you could face a fine – not what any new business needs.

It’s the little touches that count

Set up a business bank account at your local branch – you can also do this online very quickly. This helps you to maintain a high level of professionalism and keeps your personal and business finances separate for tax purposes, which will make it easier to calculate in the long run.

Head to your local printers to get some business cards prepared to help you to spread the word. Alternatively, try Vistaprint – they often offer free business cards (you just pay postage) so this could be a really cost-effective way of promoting your new venture and hand them out to everyone you know.

Leave a stack for friends and family too, and ask them to do the same – you never know who your next customer could be!

Start turning your ideas into a business

There you have it! Don’t be afraid to bring into fruition those ideas you’ve been sitting on. Some of the best ideas are born out of your everyday needs or surroundings – it could be a gap in the market you’ve spotted at home or a problem that seemingly couldn’t be solved whilst running an errand.

Look for inspiration in those precious spare moments, possibly when you’re on the school run, which often goes by in a flash. And once you have an idea, just get started on it, following these tips. You never know if it can go somewhere if you don’t try!

Mark Edwards is the General Manager of Rocket Lawyer, an online legal service providing families and small businesses with easy-to-use, professional legal documents and affordable help from specialist lawyers.