1. Where to go to get you started
From advice on business plans to funding for start-ups, here are the best websites to get you up and running
WHERE TO GO FOR FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE
Angel Investors are a network of individuals looking to put money into a small business (www.angelinvestmentnetwork.co.uk).
“Develop a good relationship with your bank" says Carol Bagnald, HSBC’s Women in Business spokesperson. “There are several options; overdrafts can be useful for temporary financing or fluctuating cash shortages, and a loan can finance a longer-term business need."
Visit the Department of Business, Innovation & Skills for information on small-business loans and start-up funding.
ONLINE SUPPORT GROUPS
BusinessLink (businesslink.gov.uk) is a free business advice and support service filled with info.
Capital for Enterprise Limited supports enterprises across the UK (capitalforenterprise.gov.uk).
Women Unlimited is a good learning and support network (women-unlimited.co.uk).
Find out if you’re eligible for grants at smarta.com/tools/grants.
Trapezia (stargatecapital.co.uk) run by Stargate Capital is a women-only investment fund for female-owned and female-focused businesses.
Prevista can help you prepare your business plan and advise on grants (prevista.co.uk).
British Library Business and IP Centre supports starts-ups (bl.uk/bipc).
Shell Livewire is an online community for entrepreneurs aged under 30 (shell-livewire.org)
2. HOW TO CUT THROUGH THE FINANCIAL JAOGON
Entrepreneur and business mentor, Kerrie Dorman, translates the financial language you’ll need to know
Revenue: All proceeds from sales
Direct costs: Costs incurred to achieve revenue
Overheads: Costs necessary to the business operating, ie rent and rates
Gross profit: The amount left over after direct costs have been taken
Net profit: The amount left over after all remaining costs have been removed from gross profit. This can be stated as before or after tax has been allocated
GP%: Gross profit per cent
KPIs: Key Performance Indicators
Burn rate: Rate at which customers leave; the average life of a customer
Corporation tax: Tax on net profit of your company
Dividends: A payment made to shareholders once a profit has been declared
ROI: Return on investment
3. HOW TO WRITE THE PERFECT BUSINESS PLAN
Entrepreneur Kerrie Dorman (kerriedorman.com) guides you through the most crucial tool to starting your own company
WHAT IS A BUSINESS PLAN?
A document that outlines, in detail, the concept of your business and how/why it will work. Crucially, it should show evidence of extensive research into the market your business is about to enter.
WHO IS IT FOR?
Essentially it’s for the prospective business owner to plan out precisely how they will launch, survive and expand. It’s also the key tool in convincing investors and therefore needs to be extremely thorough.
HOW LONG SHOULD IT BE?
The best business plans are short, sharp and to the point. Do not exceed 25 pages.
ANY BASIC ERRORS TO AVOID?
Don’t make the classic mistake of going for a low figure: a good business plan makes you focus on the financial reality of running a business.
WHAT NEEDS TO BE IN YOUR BUSINESS PLAN?
A full description of the concept and of the product/service What are you offering that’s new? How is it filling a gap in the market?
Background and experience of the entrepreneur Unless it’s an MBA, forget university; cover what you have learnt from job(s).
Extensive market research on competition Look in detail at what else is currently out there. If you are aiming a business at the UK, focus there, if it is worldwide, look at what businesses you will be competing against across the globe.
Any details on tests, dry runs, etc Include surveys of friends, family and any quotes or feedback from people you have tested the business idea on.
Route to market How will you get your product to your target market? Everything from delivery, to who will stock it, how they will market it and how people will buy it.
Marketing plan How will you build your brand and market it? Reaching your target demographic to let them know that there’s an amazing product out there is critical, so how will you do this?
SWOT analysis This means identifying internal strengths and weaknesses as well as external opportunities and threats
Figures to include in an opening budget You will need the amount of capital you require to launch and begin trading until your revenue begins trickling in. This should include everything from staff, utilities, insurance, rent, rates, marketing, stationery etc
Detail on personnel required and key roles Look at both the short term and longer term. How many people will you need and what roles will they fill?
Exit strategy What will you do with the business at the end? Do you want to sell it? Include a timeframe, what net worth you are aiming for and how you will sell it. Banks and investors want to see you thinking about this.
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