Guide

Step-by-step guide to starting a business

5 things to do before you start your business

If you’re thinking about taking the plunge and starting a business of your own, there are some key steps you need to take first.

1. Business idea

Every business develops from an initial idea. Ideas can range from spotting a gap in the market to coming up with a brand new product or service.

If you want to start a business but don't have a definite idea, you can get help from our business idea profiles. The profiles provide information on over 600 small business trades, sectors and professions. This includes start-up costs, market trends, pricing, and rules and regulations. See find a business idea.

For further information on researching and developing your basic business idea see research and develop ideas, new products and services.

2. Business name

Choosing a name for your business is a creative and enjoyable process. It is also one that you need to get right. It is a good idea to be objective and choose a name that reflects your business strategy. See choose the right name for your business.

3. Business structure

Choosing the right legal structure for your business is vital. Most start-ups are sole trader, partnership or limited company, but there are other options, for example social enterprise. For further information see:

4. Market research

You should think carefully about the product or service that you want to sell, the audience you're selling to and what you have that makes you stand out from the crowd. See create your marketing strategy.

5. Finance your new business

You must also think about how you are going to finance your start-up and what effect it will have on your personal finances while you wait for profits to show. See business financing options - an overview.

The following material will help you better understand what is required to start a business:

My New Business

My New Business is a free online service that covers everything you need to plan, start and run a business. It has videos and tools, plus other learning resources – like tutorials and case studies. All of them are aimed at helping people like you get your business started.

It also includes checklists that cover everything from coming up with a strong business idea and developing it, to identifying and reaching your customers to turn that idea into a successful business. See My New Business.