10 things to consider when starting a business

1. Second-guess yourself and refine your concept

So you’ve come up with an idea for a business, brilliant! But will the concept really work? Don’t just assume your idea is viable, try and prove it won’t work. Pick at every angle and look for flaws – if they’re there, they’ll show up soon enough anyway and at least this way you can refine your idea to give it the best chance of survival. Then you’re ready to…

2. Conduct some decent market research (customers, competitors and everyone in between)

You need to know what you’re competing with – you didn’t think you were the only one with that idea did you? What will you do differently, better, cheaper, or faster than your competitors? What do your customers want that they’re not getting elsewhere? Define your target customers and map how you’ll reach and engage with them.

Remember, appealing to everyone appeals to no one.

3. What business structure are you going to use?

Will you set up as a sole trader or are you planning to scale quickly and recruit employees, in which case a limited company might be a better option? There are pros and cons to all business structures so finding the right one for your enterprise needs careful consideration. This page on the Gov.UK website is a useful primer

4. Licensing, legal, insurance and protecting your intellectual property

Can you just set-up and get started with your idea, or are there legal implications to what you’re doing? Perhaps you’re operating in an area that’s regulated? Make sure you know what does and doesn’t apply to you, so you don’t fall foul of the rules.
Have you considered your worst case scenarios? Do you need specific insurance (public liability, professional indemnity or employers’ liability) to protect you if the worst happens?

On the upside, this business idea of yours, is it unique in any way? If you haven’t protected yourself properly against the possibility of someone else using (or stealing) it, you could find your business in jeopardy, so consider protecting your intellectual property now.

5. Plan, plan and plan some more

Your business plan is your new best friend and a critical document that will assist you in working towards a sustainable business model. A good business plan will help order your thoughts, force you to consider the bigger picture and to set a clear direction for the business. There are plenty of business plan templates online, as well as local organisations that can help you prepare one. If in doubt, get in touch with Opportunity Peterborough and we’ll steer you to the most appropriate support.

It’s so important to get this bit right. It’s the cornerstone of how your business will function and will prove to your financial stakeholders that you know what you’re doing and have thought about everything that could affect your business.

6. Think about funding and finance

Whether you’re planning purely organic growth brought about by the revenues you’ll generate, or you need to purchase stock, machinery, premises or even scale-up quickly, you’ll need to get a grasp on your finances and the vast array of funding sources available.

There’s plenty of support out there to help you make sense of the different routes to funding your business – start with Opportunity Peterborough and we can signpost you to the relevant place.

7. Create an identity

Choose a name – and choose it well. It’s going to define your business for a long time to come. Check the rules for naming a company – Companies House has some guidelines – make sure it makes sense, is easily pronounced and reflects the image you want to convey. Importantly, check it’s not already in use here in the UK or anywhere else around the world!

Design a logo, register a domain name and build your website. In today’s increasingly competitive marketplace an online presence is vital, so don’t overlook creating even a simple landing page. Websites don’t have to cost a fortune but it’s worth investing a little – after all, it’ll become your virtual shop window.

8. Think about business premises

It may well all be about location, location, location, but the nature of your business will clearly affect your setting and premises requirements. Don’t underestimate the impact of having a city centre office on your website/stationary versus your home address either – virtual tenancy services are widely available and can increase your professionalism while also helping to remove some of the strain of business admin, freeing you up to focus on building your customer base..

9. Ask for external help (professional advisers, mentors, friends and family), and keep asking…

Yes, you came up with the idea for starting your business (for which, congratulations!) but you shouldn’t feel that you have to go it alone from here, so who can you turn to?

It seems obvious to say that it’s a good idea start with those closest to you – you might be surprised at what your family and friends know, or indeed who they know, that could help you.

There’s a vast array of professionals who could add real value to your business too, from solicitors and accountants to coaches and mentors. While you’ll have to pay for some (if not most) of their services, you’d be surprised what you can pick up for free from seminars, workshops, networking events and the like.

Whilst there’s a lot of private help available, you’d be missing a trick if you didn’t use the wealth of free information and resources made available by the public sector too.

Opportunity Peterborough can help you to find your way through the jungle of support available, both locally and nationally; so find out more about the support we offer businesses to start up and grow in Peterborough at or, pick up the phone and call us on 01733 317 417

10. Get out and network!

If you’re used to working for someone else, suddenly finding yourself responsible for all aspects of a business can at times be a lonely and daunting place…
…but it doesn’t have to be. You need to make time to get out and meet with other business owners to share ideas, ask advice and just have a chat.

Opportunity Peterborough runs the New Business Network to give new business owners the chance to do just that. It meets regularly, and if you’re interested in joining (for free, of course), give us a call on 01733 317 417.