It's daunting isn't it? Your 'To Do List' is now stretching to 5 pages and you've only ticked off a few items.
Many small businesses are so busy focusing on their delightful and amazing products, they completely forget that they need to record things properly and we're fast approaching the days where a hand written spreadsheet filed away on a shelf is becoming obsolete and could potentially lead to expensive problems down the line.
At Staxton Hill Wholesale we want to help our SME partners and nudge them in the right direction with some handy tips that save time and potentially a lot of money in the future.
Remember, our suggestions below are just guides. You should research every step in your own time and ask for advice from others before committing to anything.
BUSINESS PLANS - THE EGG BEFORE THE CHICKEN
As the old saying goes 'fail to plan, plan to fail' and this could not be more true than with business.
From the very outset, you need to have a plan of action ready. Something that you can follow but something that also gives you a nudge if you start slipping on important dates and key milestones in your business journey.
The UK government have a created a dedicated website that provides business planning templates and important guides. Click Here.
Planning your business properly can also help with future requirements for loans or investment. You might be thinking 'Pfft..I'll never need a loan' but in 5 years time, when your business is crying out for extra machinery and the math stacks up, it could be more efficient for your business to loan money, purchase more machinery and increase production. Questions like this can be answered within your business planning. Don't see it as some sort of exam, see it as a dry run of how your business could play out over the next 3 to 5 years. Play around with figures and get an understanding of the sales targets you need to hit to be comfortable.
ACCOUNTANCY AND VAT RECORDS
Before you even get to thinking about buying your first products or building your first website, you need to have software in place that allows you to record your expenses from day one.
A relatively inexpensive way of doing this, is to use something like Xero. Click Here.
This handy piece of software is scalable and can be integrated with various parts of your business from day one. Pricing starts from just £10 p/month (sometimes less if they have an offer on) and allows you to start creating professional invoices and collating all of your tax information in one place. You can even submit your company tax returns through their portal!
If you're thinking of employing staff, it's critical that you have some form of accountancy software in place and it's even more important now that the UK is moving toward MTD (Making Tax Digital) - read more here.
YOUR FIRST WEBSITE
When you've finally got your planning sorted and you've started entering your first expenses in to your accountancy software, it's probably time for you to set up your first website.
There's literally hundreds of options at this point and many will depend on your requirements. If you're launching a service or a single product business, you might want to choose something simple like SquareSpace - an easy drag and drop builder for start-up businesses. Prices start from just £10 per month and you can scale up or down, depending on your requirements. Support is available when you sign up and there are thousands of customers across the globe who you can reach out to for guidance.
If you're thinking of a more advanced, multi-product website that stocks a variety of different suppliers products, you may need something a little more advanced. We would suggest researching the capabilities of Shopify. With pricing starting from just £23 per month, Shopify allows you to scale up your business and even offers things like PoS (point of sale) tech for retail shops or marketing events. You can use Shopify as your all in one solution for stock control, payment processing and web development. There are some free themes to use straight off the bat and for more advanced users, you can purchase dedicated themes in the Shopify App Store.
Remember, any web platform you choose needs to be mobile ready, so people can shop on their phone or tablet. Less and less people are shopping via desktop or laptop these days - click here for the stats.
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