Our Business Creation Experts are on hand to answer all your queries about setting up on your own. Read on for three questions we've received lately.
"What do I need to consider when identifying suppliers?"
Think strategically: spend time researching potential suppliers and perform due diligence. Access copies of financial accounts via Companies House, but remember these are usually filed 12 months in arrears. Credit reference agencies offer data that will assist you to manage risk, and ask for references from customers, other suppliers and banks.
Explore suppliers’ aftercare service, management and administration support: Do they have adequate resources to manage current or future workloads? Ensure that you are satisfied with their terms and conditions. When you meet them, discuss your business requirements, see if they align with how they operate, and plan how you can work together.
Using local suppliers can reduce costs: If your suppliers are further afield, the price per item might be cheaper, but you may end up paying more in delivery. You should try to source between four and five suppliers with a view to settling with three. The aim is to create a win-win situation for both parties. It is more important to get the right supplier than the cheapest deal. Identify common ground that works for both parties and establish favourable credit terms.
Who do you need to surround yourself with when starting a business?
A handful of trustworthy friends, other business owners or professionals can really make a difference, especially if they have experienced similar challenges in their businesses. Identify individuals who will support you and understand what the business stands for. If you have a business partner, ensure that they sign up to the vision of the business as you should have a high level of trust.
Spending time and money identifying employees who bridge the skills gap in your business will pay dividends. Loyal team players are what you require for long-term sustainability. Invest in qualifications and training to maintain skills.
Bring professionals into your business at an early stage. Start networking and identify key individuals, such as an accountant, business advisor, mentor or solicitor who can provide the services you need. Keep up to date with what’s happening in your industry as you will need to adapt to any major changes.
How can your business stand out from the crowd?
Your website is one way to stand out, keeping your customers up to date with any changes or introducing new products or services. It’s also an ideal place to host webinars, which will be a great stepping stone if you are considering expanding your business internationally.
Social media is great for raising your personal profile, as well as awareness of products and services. If you are not already writing blogs, articles for magazines or even a book, then here is an opportunity to create a strong platform for your voice to be heard. Regular posts will help drive customers to your website to increase sales.
The traditional ways to advertise your business – leaflets, magazine advertisements, local press and community activities – should also be considered, as a large number of customers still prefer to engage in that way. Know your target market and engage accordingly