Your guide to a successful online business!

Starting a small business guide

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.

Click on the tabs below to find out more on how to get your business started

I need to name my online business

Have you chosen your
business name?

Yes
no

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.

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Have you chosen and
registered your domain name?

Yes
no

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.

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Domain Name

Your domain name is your business’s address online. Snap up your preferred address now before someone beats you to it.

Find out more

I need to expand on a business idea that I have

Have you tested the
market?

Yes
no

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.

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Have you developed a
business plan?

Yes
no

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. And you can see examples of business plans here.

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Have you found trusted suppliers?

Yes
no

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.

You can learn about funding options here.

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I need to market my online business

Have you tested the
market?

Yes
no

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.

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Have you developed your brand?

Yes
no

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.

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Have you got started with
online marketing?

Yes
no

Online marketing will be crucial to your success and it’s vital you know your SEO from your PPC.
Online Business Training from 123 Reg offers free marketing courses that will help your new business get off to a flying start.

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We also recommend these products

Domain Name

Your domain name is your business’s address online. Snap up your preferred address now before someone beats you to it.

Find out more

Email marketing

Email marketing is a great way to target people with sales-boosting special offers and deals. It’s never too soon to start building your list.

Find out more

Search Engine Optimiser

Use our SEO tool to help ensure your website ranks as highly as possible in Google and other search engines – something that’s vital for drawing in new customers.

Find out more

Pay-Per-Click Management

All the benefits of PPC advertising without any of the hassle. We’ll manage PPC campaigns that send potential customers to your website on your behalf.

Find out more

I need to get my business online

Have you chosen and registered
your domain name?

Yes
no

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.

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Have you built a website?

Yes
no

From spending thousands of pounds to get a professionally designed site to using a modern, stylish and inexpensive website builder there are plenty of way to get your business online.

Check out this guide to discover what’s best for you.

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We also recommend these products

Domain Name

Your domain name is your business’s address online. Snap up your preferred address now before someone beats you to it.

Find out more

Website builder

Attract your first customers by building a quality website without learning to code, or breaking the bank by hiring a web designer. Includes hosting and a free domain name!

Find out more

Have you arranged legal and
contractual documents?

Yes
no

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.

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Have you registered your
business?

Yes
no

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 Gov.uk 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.

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Have you registered your
intellectual property?

Yes
no

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 glamorous 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.

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I need help with financial decisions

Have you got funding?

Yes
no

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.

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Have you registered your
business?

Yes
no

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.

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Do you understand your
tax position?

Yes
no

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.

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