Starting your business is always a risk, a gamble; the size of that risk depends entirely on the circumstances, but ask anyone that’s gone and done it and no-one will tell you it was risk free. Whether you’re a one man (or girl) band, starting with a partner or more, or employing people from the start; they all encompass risk. I know just how much of a logistical nightmare starting up a business can be. Back in December 2013 I decided it was time to do what I’d always dreamt of - to try and run my own business; to be my own boss.
At the very beginning, all of the options are pretty scary - getting things right feels entirely vital at the time but I wouldn’t say you can’t make mistakes; chill. My biggest bit of advice would be find yourself an absolutely awesome accountant; they’ll pay for themselves if you use them right.
When I first thought about starting up Nimble Ape, this was probably the key bit of advice I got from a few friends and peers that had started up their businesses; and so I’m passing it on. I was incredibly lucky in finding mine; he guided me through the process of what needed to be done and what potential questions I should be asking myself before we’d even discussed rates for his services. This is the kind of accountant you want; one that understands your business and one that cares about you and helping you make the right decisions. If you’re in need of an accountant that understands internet based companies in the UK; send us an email and we’ll give you their details.
find yourself an absolutely awesome accountant; they’ll pay for themselves if you use them right
What type of business is right for you?
Nimble Ape is a UK Limited company; it was right for us but it might not be right for you. In the UK you can class yourself as a sole-trader, a limited company or a partnership. I’m not going to say any more about these as it’s entirely down to your circumstances and your awesome accountant will be able to help you more than I can. However, gov.uk does have really great information on what each is and what would be involved in each.
The second bit of advice I would give would be use an accountancy package to help you manage your business finances; they again pay for themselves. I can categorically tell you that I couldn’t run Nimble Ape the way I do without software helping organise and submit PAYE, VAT, National Insurance and Tax details to the HMRC.
There are a few out there, the two I was interested in were Xero and Free Agent. FreeAgent was the better choice for Nimble Ape but take a look around and find the best tool for you. Some accountants can include access to one of these services in their fees so ask about that too.
I can categorically tell you that I couldn’t run Nimble Ape the way I do without Free Agent
You as a business owner should care about your businesses revenues and expenses; so at least while you’re starting out being in control of these aspects can 1) reduce costs with your accountant and 2) help you understand how things work and what impact actions have on your business. Getting the right balance between utilising your accountant and doing things yourself can be tough but finding a great accountant that you trust alleviates that; they should help you figure it out.
Get your paperwork in order
This seems like such a small point but it usually gets forgotten about. Try and be organised from the get-go. Your business cannot be paperless - it’s just impossible (at least in the UK). Plan for organisation, both in paper form as well as digital. You’ll be surprised at just how much paperwork you’ll need to keep copies of so plan for it and keep it easily accessible - not in a heap on the kicthen table - that won’t help you if the HMRC decide to audit you.
We use Evernote and a Doxie Go Wifi to keep everything scanned and digitalised so that the paper is only there for if and when we need it. I can’t express how much time you’ll save by keeping things organised and accessible.
I started Nimble Ape because I already had a revenue stream planned and agreed upon; it was probabaly one of the safest ways to start a business; it was near perfect. But that’s not always the case. Now that Nimble Ape is growing we’re having to do things that we never had to do before - advertise ourselves! That means attending relevant meetups and conferences as well as setting up facebook pages, twitter users and anything else that can get your name and skills out there.
Local meetups will cost you barely anything to attend (usually you’ll get a free meal out of it!), and if you can’t afford to participate in conferences as an attendee then why not try and speak at them? If you’re brave enough to start your own business, you’re brave enough to be a speaker!
Get work/life balance right from the start
This seems so obvious but so many get it wrong. Starting your business is tough but the last word on the matter really is, don’t kill yourself, don’t kill friendships and relationships. What’s the point to being your own boss if you’ve got no-one to share any of it with?
My final point is a simple one and really falls under advertising yourself. Please, please, please get yourself a domain/website and an email address using that domain. It’s ridiculous how many people don’t.
There are so many other hints and tips when starting your business. Maybe we should write another sometime soon. What would you advise your friends when starting their business?