Tips for Starting a Business in 2024

Victoria Scally Advice and Tips, Business Tips, News

Are you planning to launch your new business in 2024? We know it can feel really exciting, but also somewhat overwhelming!

As busy business accountants, we are lucky to work with great new start-ups every day, across the UK. Many of these fledgling businesses fly and thrive because they started with the right approach from day 1. So, drawing on their success stories, we’ve put together a few key tips for you to help your new business take flight.

 

1. It all starts with a plan

Many new businesses owners make a key mistake by simply not planning their finances. You don’t need to create an in-depth or complex plan, but you do need to think about these core financial questions:

  • How am I going to fund my new business?
  • How long can I go before getting paid?
  • What happens if it takes longer than expected to get customers?
  • What happens if my customers do not pay me on time or delay payments?
  • What are the tax implications of my business, and how might it impact on my home finances?

And the one many owners forget:

  • How much cash do I have to survive on personally?

Take the first step to getting to grips with the figures, and check out our cashflow blog, This includes a downloadable, (very) simple spreadsheet that you can use to help you plan your business finances.

 

2. Know what you are offering

This might sound obvious, but make sure you know your product or service before you start. You need to clearly understand:

  • What you are selling
  • How you will price your products / services
  • The benefits to the customer/client

That final point is a key issue often overlooked by business owners. We’re talking benefits here, not features. It’s the same idea as one big red button on your widget rather than six smaller ones. The feature is the button, the benefit is its ease of use.

You need to be able to do the following at the drop of a hat, or at least at your next networking meeting!

  • Explain what you do in a short statement (aka your elevator pitch)
  • Be able to easily answer the question “How much does it cost, and exactly what will I get?”
  • Have worked out the answer to “Why does the market actually want my product?”
  • Explain what is different about your offering (aka your USP – Unique Selling Point)

We ask many of our new business new business owners, whether clients or at a networking event, these exact questions. We’re always a little surprised with the lack of clarity in their answers. This lack of clarity will be a major problem when you are trying to find and communicate your value to potential customers/clients, or potential investors. Often businesses fail in the “Dragon’s Den” because they just can’t explain why anyone might want what they offer!

 

3. Decide what you are going to trade ‘as’

There are a few options for your ‘business structures’. For most businesses, it usually comes down to a choice between setting up as:

  • a limited company

or

  • a sole trader

No sure which is right for you?

Whatever way you choose, there will be tax paperwork that will need to be completed. For more on the practical details (like making sure you can get paid and how to do it!), check out our useful articles here on our website:

 

4. Have a customer acquisition strategy

Many business start-ups believing it is easy to get customers or clients. It isn’t at the start, at least not without some serious effort. You need to work you are going to reach the customers you need. Let’s bust a couple of myths about getting new customers:

  • The internet is not (usually) an instant magic wand for gaining customers, although it is a key part of any strategy these days.
  • Having a new shiny website does not mean people will miraculously do business with you in the next 30 days. (If only!) Indeed, a new website may take up to six months to attract Google’s attention, gain its respect, and get ranked.
  • Networking events help you connect with other businesses, which is a very good thing in the long run. However, attending a few events won’t magically generate customers/clients in a short time frame. (But it will help.)

All of the above can and do work, but they take a lot of time and effort. If you don’t have a solid financial plan, time can quickly be a key issue. You can be in danger of running out of cash whilst you wait for customers and new clients to start to nibble, let alone bite.

You need to factor in time as well as spending on your marketing. Having a firm idea of what you will do with your marketing and sales is very important. Getting a balance of growing your business and actually operating it will be a constant challenge.

 

5. Consistency is key

Consistency is vital. Whether it’s financial planning or your marketing efforts, the consistency of repeating these key tasks over time is critical to business success. We see these ‘fails’ all too often:

  • Being amazing at planning finances at the early stage, but then hardly looking at anything other than your bank balance after that.
  • Posting a stock image every day on your social media for 2 weeks, not getting much interaction and then giving up as “It’s not working”.
  • Not following up with that prospect you spoke to. Big mistake. Huge.
  • Not concentrating on service and communication – clients need to know that you’re listening and helping.

In order to achieve consistency, you need action. Many people say they are going to start a new business. However, they never put in the actions required to turn their dream into business reality.

There’s no easy way of saying this. So, here it is.

Show up, do the boring stuff regularly, and you will have more success.

 

6. Feel free to break up the Lego

Finally, some words on resilience. Building a business is like building Lego.

  • Sometimes you might not construct it properly and it needs rebuilding.
  • Sometimes it just needs a little tidying up as you didn’t love the end result.
  • Sometimes the foundations are shaky, and you have to demolish most of it.

Be content with the fact that it’s very likely that things are going to go wrong, and the assumptions you made will turn out not to be true.

Rebuilding, changing direction and constant tweaking are all part of the business journey – embrace it. Get over the losses quickly and go again.

 

Help is at hand

For further help with starting up a business, subscribe to our YouTube Channel for video content . We’ve also built up an extensive article library here at our website – feel free to browse around. If you prefer listening to podcasts, great, we have one of these as well right here.

For in-person help sorting out your business structure and planning your finances, just get in touch with the team. Our paid for 1 hour, 1-2-1 consultation is ideal if you have a shedload of straightforward questions. You don’t have to become a client, so it’s an easy and hassle-free way to get the help you need, when you need it.