Ten steps to start-up success

We’re committed to supporting Scottish business. That’s why we’ve created plenty of tips and guidance to help you achieve your business goals. Here you’ll find our ten key steps to a successful start-up.

Ten steps

  1. Write a business plan
    A business plan will help you take a critical look at your ideas. You can use it to communicate your business idea clearly to potential suppliers or financiers, giving them confidence that you’ve thought through the essentials. Your plan will also serve as a benchmark to measure your progress against. Then, if things don’t go as planned, you can take measures to correct them.
  2. Research your chosen field
    If you don’t already have experience in your chosen sector, gain some before you launch your business. Learn about any laws affecting your business and talk to HM Revenue & Customs about tax issues. If there’s a trade association for your industry, ask them for guidance.
  3. Get to know your customers
    Try to get to know the people you’ll be selling to. Chances are, unless your product or service is really unique, people will already be buying a similar one somewhere else. So talk with your customers to discover what could make them choose you instead.
  4. Listen to advice
    As well as help and support from the business advisers at Bank of Scotland, you can get advice from many other sources. Talk to people who'll be frank with you about your business idea, and listen to their feedback.
  5. Test the temperature first
    Many businesses are run successfully on a part-time basis from home. Why not check the potential of your business idea by running your business in the evenings and at weekends from home before you give up your regular income? Make sure you keep your personal and business finances separate – open a business account at the earliest opportunity.
  6. Don’t use all your funds up front
    Spend as little as possible when you’re starting your business. Consider working from a spare room at home rather than taking on new premises. Don't invest all your funds in the business unless you have no other option – you’ll almost certainly need more money for something within months of starting up.
  7. Make the most of free publicity
    Tap into as much free publicity as you can. Word of mouth is often the best way to advertise. Another effective tactic is asking satisfied customers to tell their friends about you. Network and tell people about your business – you never know where it might lead.
  8. Start bookkeeping now
    It will help your business if you set up a good bookkeeping system early – it can be expensive to sort one out later. Keep all your business receipts, even before you officially start trading, as you may be able to offset costs against tax. Accurate bookkeeping will help you monitor your business progress.
  9. Prepare family and friends
    Do people close to you understand how time-consuming starting a business can be? Warn them about any lifestyle changes you need to make to help your business succeed.
  10. Be resilient, adapt and change
    If something goes wrong, learn from it, keep going and be ready to change. Start-up businesses can usually evolve and change direction much faster than more established ones. So take advantage and be ready to adapt your business if the right opportunities come up.

Key points

  • A written business plan is essential
  • Research your chosen sector thoroughly, before starting your business.
  • Get as much advice as you can

Why not check the potential of your business idea by running your business in the evenings and at weekends from home before you give up your regular income

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Business mentoring

Could your business benefit from the support of a business mentor? MentorSME, a free online service, enables you to find local independent mentoring organisations.