The most exciting thing about starting your own business is when you start to see the fruits of all your hard work pay off. As your business starts to grow, seemingly so do the number of plates you need to spin.
At Heelan Associates, our team are experienced in helping small business owners across Hampshire understand how to make the most of their growth, so they can move from spare bedroom to boardroom, seamlessly.
Here’s our helpful guide on helping you navigate your way from running your business from your bedroom into a more formal setting, whether it be your own premises, sharing space with another business or simply hiring in more talent.
1. Create a plan and a vision
This is probably the most important point. We will mention financial planning more later in the post, but the wider issues must be considered at the same time:
How will the business look ‘when its done’?
What is the ideal / your vision for the business?
If this is too broad a question, how do you want it to look in 3 or 5 years time?
What people, premises and equipment etc might you need for this grown-up version of the business?
How much money will you need? What will your sales figures need to be? How many customers will you need?
Starting at this point can form the basis of whether what your feel like you need to do now, is actually working towards this vision.
It could be easy to think ‘right now I need THIS’, but in reality what you think you need could be outdated in 6 months, as you might (and we hope) overachieve your growth ambitions!
Moving forward you should actively look to review and work on this plan. Some tips on time management and this area can be found in our related blog post here.
2. Create systems
When you are starting out on your own, you think that as you know how everything in your business works you don’t need a ‘procedures manual’ or similar – it could feel like a waste of your valuable time.
We will suggest here that in fact everything you do should be viewed as a template for your business ‘system’. When you do grow to that next stage and bring someone else into the business, how will you train them? If you have checklists, guides, and a robust system, it will be a LOT easier.
As a business that has been on this journey, we cannot stress how much this stage will help you as you grow. Your system will never stay the same, and arguably shouldn’t, as you adapt your work to get better and better at what you do, but the fact you can update these systems will help every person you bring into the business as it grows. It is far easier to do this now than it will be if you start to see the cracks appearing in your business later down the line!
3. Figure out what’s missing (and how often you need help)
Now you have your vision and systems, it’s time to decide what you need now that will help you on your journey to reach that vision.
You may need full time help with repetitive (but important!) tasks like order fulfilment, running front of house, or simply an extra pair of hands to deal with paperwork. In many cases you might just need a little extra help, not necessarily full time, or permanent.
The relatively recent rise in freelance workers means you can potentially get an experienced pair of hands, without the obligations and employment costs of a full time contract. Before you consider this, make sure you’re aware of the rules of ‘IR35’ (though all freelancers should be aware of this too), to ensure you stay compliant.
These rules apply where it is clear the person really should be classed as an employee, as the BBC themselves recently fell foul of with a presenter providing services through her own company. We can give you some essential highlights and pointers in this area.
If considering an employee, really think about whether its part or full time you need. Could you build on several part timers as the business grows? Or could your hire grow with you, adding additional hours or days later down the line?
There is a great market for either multi-role, multi-job workers in the economy, along with parents looking for school hours/childcare friendly hours – if your role suits these times, you should be spoilt for choice.
4. Understand your options to grow your business operations
The rise in popularity of more flexible office spaces such as co-working set ups mean that it’s really easy to move your business out of the spare bedroom and into a professional serviced office environment.
With a bit of a google, these type of spaces can be found all across Hampshire and the UK.
Planning the financial impact of a move is very important to the cash flow. If entering into a lease you may have:
Cost to physically move
Rent up front and deposit, including VAT
Utilities and rates costs
This list could go on, so we always recommend a review of the budget (or getting one set up! See below) in these circumstances.
If you don’t need a physical office but want to work remotely with a few team members, then technological advances in remote team collaboration have come on leaps and bounds, such as team collaboration platforms like Slack, Microsoft Office 365 & Team, even Google Drive.
5. Forward planning your finances is key
Transitioning from a business which is just you, towards creating a business in its own right is a rewarding, but often stressful time! The costs can start to spiral and without the right planning can see cash flow plummet, shortly followed by the previously successful business.
Now you have your vision, your systems and know what you need, its time to make it a reality – and more importantly check it is a sensible thing to do!
Creating a budget as you grow is not a choice if you want the business to succeed.
Budgeting is key in a growing business, for example to understand the full costs of employment:
- Employers National Insurance (and the impact of the really useful ‘Employers Allowance’)
- National Minimum and Living Wage rates and how they apply
- Pension – do I have to contribute & how does it work?
- Payroll – what is involved with actually paying someone?
- What is the true cost to the business considering the holiday pay I will need to pay?
Make sure you’ve thought ahead as if you’re making the commitment to hire someone, you will need to ensure your business has the resources to pay them. We can help you explore the various options for future planning, considering business loans or ways to maximise your working capital.
6. Hire in the pros
Aside from running your business, you’ll need a crack team of support as your business grows to help you navigate the waters from IT support, to HR & Legal advice, and of course a great finance team.
It’s important that you find a support system that suits your needs right now and can grow with you, as your business – and demands – become naturally more complex.
Quite often these areas will be outsourced, in fact with a service like IT support, its very common that this remains outsourced. It can be tempting to think you can do everything yourself to keep the costs lower, but at some point there is a cost to your business (and maybe your sanity!) in doing it this way.
What could you be doing instead of fixing that computer or doing your book-keeping?
How much money could you earn, or what difference could you make in your business if someone else was doing this?
As finance people, we are not suggesting wildly spending out on outsourced everything – you will need a sound budget and plan, but investment in these areas can make a massive impact to your business, your time and your potential to grow.
At Heelan Associates we are lucky enough to work with some excellent clients in most industries and as such have a great professional network, so can normally provide contact of a business that can help with your need.
With regard to employment law considerations when taking on an employee, we work closely with the leaders in this area, Peninsula, to be able to offer clients direct free access to employment law advice to help them with these queries.
7.Try to enjoy the ride
So, after reading all that you may think it sounds like a headache. Well often it is, but it is rewarding. We’ve been lucky enough to work with some fantastic business that have been on this journey, and the hard work is always worth it, so try to enjoy the ride! This means carving out some time for you and not forgetting any family or significant other you are lucky enough to have. Business can be all consuming, so its important to schedule downtime.
Tips on this is probably a whole other article, but for now its simply good to say, schedule at least one day off a week where you do no work, and get those important family holidays in the diary, even if it’s just several long weekends.
Have questions about any of the above? In this situation and would like an experienced hand on the journey? Contact the team who will be happy to cover in more detail.