Your guide to a successful online business!

So you’ve got an idea for a new business, but what’s next? Setting up your own business can be a long and complex journey. With so many things to do it can be hard to keep track. To help we’ve put together this guide which highlights all the major tasks you’ll have to undertake as you get up and running. There are links to resources telling you all you need to know about each subject. It’s not a step-by-step guide – every business will have its own journey – so dip in and grab the information you need and bookmark it so you can come back when you need to.

Test the market

Your business idea may seem fool proof to you, but will people be interested in what you’re planning to offer them? It’s important to test the market before you launch. You may find your idea needs work and it’ll save you time and money if you make those changes before you launch.

Learn how to test your idea with this video.

Choose your
business name

In some ways a good business name is a matter of personal preference. However, there are some things that you have to be sure of. First, ensure you won’t infringe anyone else’s intellectual property. If you do, it could prove to be exceedingly costly. Your name should also be brandable.

You can get the lowdown on these things in this guide.

Choose (and register) a domain name

It’s important to register your domain name as early as possible. If you don’t, there’s a risk that someone else will snap it up before you. Although it is possible to buy domains that have been registered by someone else, the cost of doing so is usually many times the cost of getting an unregistered domain.

You can find out what makes a good domain name here.

Get funding

How will you get the money to fund your business before it starts turning a profit? Maybe you’ll keep your day job on. Or perhaps you’ll get a business loan, or seek other sources of funding. If you are looking for outside sources of funding, you’ll undoubtedly need a business plan first.

You can learn about funding options here.

Develop your brand and start communicating as it

Developing a brand is a lot of work, but it will also provide you with a lot of useful information. This step will help you understand your potential customers and how they will expect you to communicate with them.

You can learn more about developing a brand in this webinar.

Develop a web presence

If you’re going to be doing most or all of your business online, then it’s vital that you get your website up and running as quickly as possible. Design, search engine optimisation, analytics and online marketing are all things you’ll have to get to grips with.

We have a wide range of online marketing guides, which you can find here.

Recruit or find trusted suppliers

If you’re selling a product, you’ll need stock or raw materials. That means you’ll need to find reliable suppliers to provide you with what you need. Ask your current contacts. Look at recommendations from industry bodies. Find independent editorial reviews. Once you’ve found them, ask to speak to their current customers and check accreditations.

Develop a business plan

A business plan is crucial. In it you’ll outline your expectations for the business and give details of how you’ll achieve these goals. Without a business plan, you won’t be able to secure outside funding.

You can learn more about what should be in a business plan here and download a business plan template here. You can see examples of business plans here.

Register your business

Will you be a sole trader, limited company or a business partnership? This decision will affect things like the taxes you’ll pay and your responsibilities if the business makes a loss.

This guide from takes you through everything you need to know. However, if you’re not certain you may want to seek out the help of a business advisor.

Arrange legal
and contractual

Your options here are limited. You’ll either need to hire a legal professional, or download template contracts and adapt them for your needs. The latter is only a possibility if you have a full understanding of what legal issues your business will face. If you’re not sure about things, it makes sense to seek the advice of a lawyer.

Understand your
banking and
financial position

As well as an accountant, you’ll need a business bank account. There are plenty of options out there, so work out what will suit you best. You’ll also need to understand cashflow issues your business may face, especially if you’ll be offering credit to customers. A business adviser will be able to help you find the right bank account, while you can learn more about cashflow here.

Understand your
tax position

The taxes you pay as a business will depend on the kind of business you’ve registered. However, you’ll need to understand exactly what you’ll be expected to pay and why, so there are no nasty surprises. You may want to hire a good accountant at an early stage to help you with this.

Register intellectual property

Are you bringing a new product to market? If so, have you secured patents? What about your name? Have you looked into securing trademarks to make sure no one can impersonate you? Securing your intellectual property isn’t the most glamourous thing you’ll do when setting up your business, but it could be one of the most important.

You can learn the basics of intellectual property here.

Decide if you’ll
need premises

If you’re a one-man band, the chances are you’ll be happy running things from home. However, if you plan on opening a physical store, expect to take on staff, or will meet face to face with clients, then you’ll need premises.

There are a huge range of issues associated with business premises, even if you work from home, and gives an A-Z here.

Don’t give up

Running a business is extremely rewarding, but that also means it’s extremely challenging. You need to keep going, but you also need the right support network. That includes friends, family, your business advisor and even a mentor who is familiar with your sector. And of course 123-reg will be here to support your business as it grows with guides on our blog and web hosting for firms of all sizes.

Are you struggling with something we haven’t covered here? Let us know in a comment and we’ll do our best to help you out.

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