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10 steps for 2008 start-ups

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Whether it’s getting a promotion at work, learning a new language or vowing to fit into a Kate Moss-size pair of jeans, most of our resolutions seem to fall by the wayside during the course of the year.

With more people deciding to start their own business in January than in any other month (more than 55 per cent according to recent research conducted by Enterprise Nation), how can they ensure their business dreams become a reality, rather than just another statistic?

MORE TH>N BUSINESS, the direct insurance provider for small businesses across the UK, has devised the following ten steps to help start-ups put the right foundations in place for success:

1 Make the decision You’ve thought about it and talked about it… now you just have to act upon it. 2 Know your market Market research is essential to help you understand the competition in your market and then determine if there is enough demand to start up and grow your new business successfully in its first year. Many start-up companies are in danger of early failure because they don’t undertake basic or, indeed, any market research before they start.

3 Write a business plan This is the foundation of every new business. It should explain what your company does, describe the industry in which you operate, assess any risks you face, detail how you intend to manage your business, explain the financial requirements of your business, and also provide forecasts.

4 Find a good accountant A good accountant will be able to help you prepare your accounts and finances in a way that is acceptable to the tax offices, ensure that you pay the right amount of tax every year and also set up your bookkeeping system, as well as prepare budgets and cash flow forecasts, which you will have to show to your bank manager.

5 Find a good lawyer It is equally important that you find a trustworthy lawyer to help you get your documentation right, draft your terms and conditions of sale/purchase, employee service contracts and partnership agreements, etc. A properly drafted business agreement can save a lot of arguments and expense later. 6 Find a good insurer Protect yourself from the unexpected, understand your business needs and find an insurance provider that can offer you tailored products and solutions that will cover the specific needs of your company.

For example, MORE TH>N BUSINESS puts the average cost of a fire claim at £26,000, but the actual cost to business can be even larger: 80 per cent of small businesses affected by a fire will not be trading a year later, so insurance is vitally important.

When considering starting a business you should also be aware that certain insurance is mandatory – such as Employers’ Liability Insurance – and that some companies and customers will not be willing to do business with you unless you have other insurance in place, such as Public Liability and Professional Indemnity insurance. 7 Invest in IT to stay ahead of competition Find reliable IT support and an established graphic designer to launch your website. According to the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, e-business can really drive up commercial and operational value, delivering benefits to customers and employees.

8 Manage your time carefully Time is money and when you’ve just launched your business, every second matters. So, set some clear deadlines for the implementation of your plan and try to stick to them to ensure that you’re always on target!

9 Look into PR and marketing PR and marketing are extremely useful tools for promoting your business and communicating your offering to potential customers, targeting the right people with the right message and building credibility. 10 Network, network, network Get involved in industry events, get to know your customers, let your friends know about your business. Word of mouth is extremely powerful and costs absolutely nothing.

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