For any entrepreneur, starting a new business is both an adventure and a challenge. Most new businesses will fail within the first year or two, and the odds are always going to be stacked against you as an entrepreneur. If you want to stand any chance of overcoming these odds, you will need to start your new business venture off on the right foot.
If you already have experience of running a startup, then you should already be familiar with the most common challenges facing new businesses in today’s world. But, unless you have experience running a new startup in London, there will be other challenges to overcome that are much less obvious and predictable.
We have gathered together some words of advice from established entrepreneurs in London to find out what they consider the essential ingredients of success to be for any new startup launching in the nation’s capital.
Start with a solid business plan
Before you go any further, make sure that you have a solid business plan to work from. Don’t fall into the trap of assuming that you can just wing it and work things out as you go; this is a surefire recipe for disaster. If you want your business journey to be smooth sailing, you need to have a plan in place before you begin.
Writing a business plan shouldn’t be a complicated process. Remember, you can always update your plan later. In fact, your business plan should be regularly updated to reflect the evolving circumstances surrounding your business. For example, your business plan should set out important milestones and financial goals for your business, as well as when you expect to be able to achieve them. Even if you’re starting an already established franchise, you’ll still need a business plan that sets these goals out. If you achieve these goals ahead of schedule, you can adjust your plan to aim for something more ambitious. Similarly, if you fail to hit your key targets, you can reformulate them into something more realistic.
Location, location, location
Choosing the right property for your business is essential for a number of reasons. Not only do you need somewhere that is suitable for your business in a practical sense, but you also want somewhere that is easy for customers to access. Finding the right location is much easier if you have a hard and fast list of requirements to work from. Therefore, the first thing that you should do when choosing a property for your business is to draw up a list of essential requirements. Before you can start to draw up a shortlist of suitable properties, you first need to define your requirements in terms of the size, layout, location, and other features that you will require for your business property.
Remember to factor in your long-term plans and your expectations for growth. Before you commit to a business property, you should know whether you are committing to it in the short-term and the long-term. There is nothing wrong with starting your business in one location and then moving it somewhere bigger and better later.
Just as important as the property itself is where it is located. Obviously, some areas of London are more desirable than others, and some are going to be prohibitively expensive unless you are a major international brand. You need to strike a balance between finding a property that is in a suitable location for your customers and staff with finding something that is within your price range. Sometimes, marrying these two factors together can be more difficult than people expect.
Another important decision that you need to make about your business property is whether you are going to buy or rent. The calculations here are much the same as they would be when you are deciding whether to buy or rent your home. If you rent a business premises, then you won’t have to invest quite as much money upfront, but you will have to make regular rent payments. Remember that rents can change as well, even if you’re getting a good deal now, you might find yourself paying more in the future.
A little local knowledge goes a long way
London is a city with a rich and vibrant history, something that any business in the city should be falling over themselves to take advantage of. If you go to London today, you will find plenty of multinational corporations with a presence on the main thoroughfares, but you will also find a plethora of smaller, independent, and local businesses operating throughout London. Once you have identified a potential property for your business, you should investigate its history to learn more about it. Not only might you be surprised by what you find, but you can incorporate the history of the property you choose into your marketing and branding.
Showing an appreciation for the history of the area you are operating in will instantly win you friends among the locals and will make your business more appealing to them. Conversely, if you neglect the history of the surrounding area and show a disregard for local heritage, you could soon find yourself butting heads with people that you would rather have on your side. If you find yourself in the position of needing to repair your business property, or you plan on carrying out some construction on the property, it is essential that you do so with respect for the local area.
For example, the Smeed Dean London Stock Brick is used extensively throughout the capital and the south of England. If your business property and the buildings around it are made from the Smeed Dean London Stock Brick, you should make sure that any works you undertake also use the same brick. There’s a lot of history behind the Smeed Dean London Stock Brick, which has been produced in Kent since the 19th century. Today, these bricks are still manufactured from a mixture of locally-sourced clay and 19th-century town ash. Armstrong Supplies sells this brick, along with a range of other building materials if you are wanting to stay in keeping with this style and blend seamlessly into your surroundings.
Be smart with your marketing
One of the biggest challenges for any new business is putting together a solid marketing campaign. Any new business is going to be vulnerable during its earliest days. During this time, making the wrong moves can have a catastrophic impact on your business. If you start throwing money at ill-conceived marketing campaigns, your business is not going to get off to a very strong start.
Instead of trying to brute force a marketing strategy by spending as much money as possible, try to think of smarter and more efficient ways of marketing your business. For example, you can massively increase the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns by taking a data-driven approach. For a new business, finding the necessary data to prop up a full marketing campaign can be difficult. However, you don’t need to have access to huge databases in order to initiate a data-driven marketing campaign.
Market research has been an important principle in business since long before we put data at the heart of everything and it is still an important undertaking today. Even a basic level of market research can give you exactly the kind of data you need to inform the direction of your initial marketing campaign.
Work out your business structure
Depending on the type of business that you are planning on starting, working out your business structure can be quite an involved process. In general, the fewer management level employees you have in your business, the simpler it is to work out your business structure. You have the choice of either forming a public limited company, a limited liability company or partnership, or becoming a sole trader. The best option for you will depend entirely upon the specific nature of your business.
When you are running your business yourself, then you might want to consider registering as a sole trader. It is worth noting that, in spite of the name, sole traders can hire employees to work in their businesses, provided that they adhere to the relevant rules and regulations. However, you should be aware that there is legally no distinction between a business and its owner if the owner is registered as a sole trader. This means any business debts can be transferred to the business owner should the business itself fail.
If there are other people involved in running the business with you, then you should choose a suitable type of partnership instead. A basic partnership works along the same lines as being a sole trader, except you have other people working alongside you, and you aren’t handling everything on your own. However, under a basic partnership, you and your partners will be liable for the business debts in the same way that a sole trader is.
If you want you and your partners to be shielded from potential financial liabilities, you should consider a limited company or limited partnership. These arrangements will maintain a degree of separation between your personal and business finances, ensuring that you are less exposed should things not work out with your business.
Choose your name carefully
Don’t underestimate how important your business name is in determining your initial success. A clear and memorable business name is more likely to stay with your audience and can be a useful marketing tool in its own right. It would be great if having a strong concept and the right attitude was enough to ensure success in business. But in practice, a great product or service is only one part of the equation. If you want to achieve sustained success, your business needs to develop strong and consistent branding.
A good business name isn’t just memorable; it’s more than that. There are three essential components that any good business name needs to have. It needs to be easy to say, pleasant to hear, and enjoyable to look at. Part of this will come down to branding and presentation, of course. But even when you strip away all the fonts, graphics, and other branding elements, the name that remains needs to be able to stand on its own two feet. If your name isn’t memorable and only has an impact when it is presented in the right way, it isn’t going to effectively stick in your customers’ minds. A name that is instantly forgotten isn’t much use to you.
Don’t rush your logo
As well as your business name, your logo will also be an important factor in determining your success. Depending on where in London you are starting your business, there might be some local history that you can draw upon when choosing a logo. Your priority when designing a logo should always be the way that it presents your business name to your audience. However, if you have the opportunity to add some deeper meaning or significance to your logo, it is worth doing so.
A good logo isn’t just memorable; it should also communicate something about your business to an audience. For a business that is just starting out, it is a good idea to choose a logo that conveys what your business does and what kind of market you are in. Encompassing all of this in a single static image isn’t easy, which is the fundamental challenge of good logo design.
Starting a new business in London is not going to be easy. Starting a business is always a challenge but there are unique challenges to starting a business in London. However, as well as presenting unique challenges, London also offers unique opportunities. Businesses that play their cards right will find that being in the nation’s capital is a huge advantage. If you have a solid business plan to work with from the very beginning, you will find the journey much easier. Before you start committing financially to your business decisions, make sure to carefully research, and consider all of your options.