Building up a Small Business – The First Year Decisions That Can Make Your Business Fly

At Ourworx we cater for all kinds of businesses. Some of the businesses based at our Stockport office space are startup companies, still in their first year of trading. Others have been trading a number of years.

For those in their first year, there have been some key decisions they have needed to make. Choices that have shaped the overall strategy and direction of their company.

One of the advantages of the mix of businesses at Ourworx is that advice and support is always available from someone who has experience. For startups in their first year, it is important to remain in control of their business and to follow their individual vision for the company. But it is also important to get support as well.

Objective advice can be invaluable, and the help of certain experts can prove the difference between ploughing a lonely furrow that is destined to failure and cultivating a sustainable business that is focussed on growth.

Get the help you need to grow

There is plenty of support available, particularly in Stockport. But all small businesses can gain an advantage from finding people to work with. Support might come from contracting work to certain skilled individuals, or maybe calling in some favours from friends and family.

Here are three core recommendations our customers at Ourworx suggest are vital to get right from the start.

1. Get help with your website

Your website is vital. And getting it right is one of the biggest decisions you can make. It is the public view of your businesses – your shop window – so it needs to reflect who you are, what your services are, but most importantly what you do for your customers and clients.

Getting a business website right is more complex than simply throwing up a brochure of your services. You will need to think of your domain name, the web provider, the structure of site, the copy (words) and who they are focussed to, whether you will have an e-commerce section and what calls to action you require. And that’s not even gone into the design, colours and branding you need to make your site stand out.

Many small business owners create their own site, and work on it themselves. But how long does it take? To read up and become competent on all of these topics could take days or even weeks of your time. Time you could be putting to good use by gaining more customers.

Working with a decent Web developer will save time and stress, freeing up your hours to focus on other aspects of the business. Make use of the experts in design, copy and development and you will see the benefits for years to come. Do it yourself and you might have a site that lasts a year before it looks unprofessional against to your competitors.

2. Get help with your bookkeeping

Cash flow is so important in the first 3 years so it’s imperative that you assess your finances carefully, ideally with some expert help. In larger organisations, all your tax and payment issues are looked after by the Finance Department, meaning that you don’t need to know how HMRC is calculating your corporation tax, or how the company makes its returns.

Work for yourself and you are exposed to the intricate world of small business accounting. With pressure to deliver accounts correctly, deadlines and rules you need to stick to, with the ever present threat of the tax inspector hanging over you.

Advice and guidance is available from HMRC, but working with an accountant is invaluable and give you a much clearer picture of your finances and how you can move forward. Accountants who work with small businesses are hugely experienced in helping startups. So make use of them – they want you to be successful. With real time reporting to HMRC being introduced in the next two years, the options of cloud based accounting systems will help you save hours of time, allowing you to quickly see information on your company finances and helping you log sales and monitor expenditure.

3. Get Out and About and Network

For the small business owner, life can be lonely. The only people you meet are clients, occasionally your accountant and, more occasionally, the barista in the local coffee shop. For some, this is perfect, for a while. But if you’ve been used to working in a busy office environment, life a lone business owner can become stifling and, in the end, detrimental to business growth and development.

Networking groups give you the opportunity to spread wings and get out amongst your fellow entrepreneurs. Not only can it be good fun, meeting with others and talking through your weekly events, but it can also be a critical element to your personal growth and your business development.

Joining a networking group can feel daunting at first, but for some businesses it can prove invaluable.

Here at Ourworx, we value networking very highly. Our customers network together informally every day – through our business lounge and our free tea, coffee and breakfast facilities. Simply by the way our offices are set up, we have an atmosphere that encourages collaboration and networking.

The first year of any business is the most exciting, but also the most vulnerable time. Receiving the help of experts, and the support of other, like-minded business owners, can be the difference between a business that flies, and a business that sinks, never to be heard of again.

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