No Moving Business Checklist is Complete Without These Considerations

Congratulations! Your startup business has become a runaway success and as a result you have outgrown your current office space. You are leaving your dinky office space behind and moving forwards into a larger office space.  You have spent months scouting a new office space and now you think that you have now found the perfect space for you and your business, but what next?

Moving to a new office space is an exciting new chapter for your business. It means that you have officially made it — you are a success. Moving offices also signals to everyone that you are taking your business to the next level. This change of location and change of scenery, signals to everyone else that you have a whole new improved business.

Extremely exciting but also extremely daunting when it all comes down to you. It’s not like you are just moving house, you are moving a whole business. A business that is your livelihood. Therefore, you need to ensure that nothing goes wrong.

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Draw Up a Schedule

You will need to give notice on your current office space and determine when you will need to be out of your present office space and into your new ones. You need to agree on a date that everything needs to be packed and moved out by. Make sure that this date is achievable. You don’t not want to cause yourself unnecessary stress by setting yourself a date that is closer than it needs to be.

Make a list of everything that you have in your office and decide on what you can start packing away now. Those HR records can probably be packed away. However, you will probably want your customer records out until you move. Once you have an idea of when you want to move, you need to hire a removal company that will help you with the move.

Finding the Right Removal Company for Your Business

You will want to ask for recommendations from other businesses that have recently moved. You will then need to invite companies to come in and quote for the cost of moving your business. You need to decide on your budget and compare how the different businesses are in relation to your budget.

Remember that the cheapest quote doesn’t necessarily mean that this is the best option for you. Look at the reviews for all of the removal companies and the services that they all offer you. Which one is going to be the best match for your business?

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Allocate Roles to Everyone in Your Company

Moving your business is a team effort and that means that everyone is going to have to be prepared to muck in and get their hands dirty. You could ask everyone in your business to be responsible for their section of the office. Encourage them to clear their desks and to toss anything that they’ll no longe be needing. You will also need someone to help you oversee everything.

That person needs to have a critical eye and they should advise you on anything that you don’t need to take to your new office premises. You don’t want to start out in your new office space with lots of paperwork that you no longer need. You might want to consider hiring some tip trucks and doing several runs to the rubbish tip. You do need to be careful though, you need to ensure that any sensitive information has been shredded.

Allocating roles to everyone will ensure that all of your employees feel actively involved in the business move. This will ensure that everyone is also kept up to date on the latest moving plans and it will hopefully mean that everyone is on board with the business move and excited for the future of the business as a result.

Hire Some Extra Hands

You might want to also consider hiring a packing company to help you and your team with the office packing. You need to ask yourself if this is an expense that 1) you really need and 2) that you can afford. You may find that you are able to do the job perfectly fine in-house.

Plan for Your Future

This is the fun bit. Planning your new office space is another way of including your employees. Find out what they would like from their new office space. What do they think works best? Where do they think that everything should go? Do you want breakout spaces? What would make for a productive working environment? You need to figure out where all of your office furniture will go and where every employee will sit.

Internet and Phones

You need to ensure that there is no gap in service from your providers. Notify your current providers when you will be in your new offices and ensure that they understand that you can have no gaps in your service. You may also want to consider researching new internet and phone providers and seeing if you can get a better deal by going somewhere else.

You also need to make a list of all of your contacts of who you need to let know that you are moving. Send them an email to let them know the day you are moving and the new address for your business.

Be Understanding

Finally, this is a stressful time for you but it is also a stressful time for your employees. Some employees can struggle with change and find that a business move causes them a degree of uncertainty. You need to have an open-door policy and take action to reassure everyone. You also need to make sure that you communicate and listen to everyone’s concerns.

You might find that Jane from your accounts department is worried because the commute is now longer and as result she is going to find it difficult to pick up her children from her babysitter on time. Try and come up with solutions for people like Jane. You don’t want to lose any employees. Holding weekly meetings is another great way of keeping everyone informed and ensuring that the communication channels are always kept open.

Moving your business premises is a big move but it doesn’t need to be a stressful one. Just ensure that you are organised and that you are always communicating your expectations. Good luck!

A Loose Lease System — What Can You Get Away with Renting in Your Business?

The one thing that is a big drain on our resources when we are developing our startups is cost. The main issues we have when it comes to cost is the upfront impact of it, if we have to buy a lot of large equipment and supplies that require a one-off payment, this can effect our budget drastically. So what is the best option? If you have to stretch your finances, the best option is to pay for things little and often, in other words, leasing or renting. These are things that can help the business in a moral sense, because of the lack of financial stress. So what are the things that you can benefit from leasing as opposed to buying?

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A Fleet

The issue with buying a fleet of vehicles is that it can be very expensive to buy equipment that is going to run into the tens of thousands of dollars, money that you don’t have when you’re starting out. There are many fleet suppliers now that lease their vehicles out, such as Flex Fleet, which is very handy when you are running a business that has to deliver items, or you’re working on a building site and need supplies transported safely and quickly.

The other benefit of leasing vehicles in this manner is that the haulage companies will have most up-to-date vehicles. This means that it’s not just safer for travelling because of the safety equipment, such as anti-lock brakes, but it’s also a bit better for your overall image, as people will be able to see that you have a contemporary fleet at your disposal.

Equipment

Again, this depends on the type of business you are running. The main thing with purchasing equipment on a lease is that it will be cheaper upfront. So if you are working in a manufacturing company, it is a great way to keep your costs low in the meantime, but your output at a high rate. Your equipment will benefit from this, as will your employees, and therefore productivity will remain high.

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Cloud Computing

This is a very common resource that is leased, or outsourced, right now. The overall benefits of upgrading to a cloud operating system is that you can upscale according to your business’s needs, and the cloud provider is responsible for protecting your business. This is a choice that many companies do now, for obvious productivity reasons, but it’s also beneficial for the environment and is a great way for you to streamline processes.

Your Staff

Outsourcing is something that is very popular with small businesses now, it’s a great way to get tasks done quickly, and there is no need for any excess staff. This can result in moral implications for your business in relation to how you liaise with your permanent staff members, but in small businesses, it is a necessary evil if you want to upscale.

Overall, costs do need to be kept down, which is a difficult thing to do, and so as a result, leasing or renting is an easier approach in the short-term, there is less fuss in the grand scheme of things, and it will help you to manage your costs better while having the most sophisticated equipment and processes.

3 Things Your Startup Doesn’t Need to Get Going

As frustration or amazing as you may find it, one of the things that makes a startup so darn exciting is the following fact: there is no such thing as the right way to start a business. The only thing that is certain is it needs doing — it needs you to take your idea from concept to reality. How you get there is completely up to you.

Sure, it is going to be about as easy as sticking your hand into a beehive and hoping to retrieve some honey without getting a single sting, but that doesn’t mean it is impossible. The first step in achieving this is to let go of all those preconceived ideas of what a startup is and what a startup needs.

Now, we’re not saying you need to become a minimalist, but you may find that the more weight you get rid of the high you’ll be able to soar. So, without further ado, here are some business related things you really don’t need to get your business started.

A brick and mortar location

In this day and age, you really don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on a swanky office that boasts a plethora of glass offices, steel desks, and a recreational room. You don’t need an office. That’s not necessarily because technology has changed things, or because online businesses are so common, it could just be that your business doesn’t need it.

Starting something like a coffee business could just mean you ask what are the best coffee carts for sale instead of where is the best place to open a shop. It could be that you want to start a lawn care business, in which case just have your employees work remotely. Save yourself that overhead and spend it on marketing instead.

Actual employees

This may sound a little offbeat, but you really don’t need employees (especially in the first year). That isn’t just because you’ve just bought yourself a coffee cart that you can manage on your own, it is because you can just outsource your needs or hire contractors instead.

Not only is that going to save you a bucket load of cash, it is also going to remove a bucket load of complexity from your startup, meaning you have less to worry about and more time to focus on, you know, thriving. Sure, you are going to have to get the legalities sorted, but contractors and freelancers are a super way to go from zero to hero.

Taking on debt

In a world of “fake news” and mediocre blogs, every aspiring entrepreneur think they need all the funding they can possibly get their hands on — this isn’t true. In fact, we would advise you against this for a plethora of reasons. Trying to secure extra funding takes time, time that you could spend improving your business.

Of course, that isn’t all. You see, by not having tons of funding then you don’t have tons of debt, which means your cash flow is more manageable, you don’t have a board of investors to answer to, you can grow at your own rate, you aren’t dictated by your repayment plan and you can figure out what really matters in your business.

5 Ways to Fund Your Startup

Got an entrepreneurial dream but haven’t got the money to make it a reality? There are many ways of earning that extra cash to help set things in motion. Here are a few options that could be worth considering.

Take out a business loan

For borrowing a large amount, there are plenty of lenders out there that specialise in business loans. Applying for a business loan generally requires a strong business plan and credit score. You may be able to shop around on sites such as BusinessLoans.co to find a loan applicable for those with a low credit rating.

Alternatively, you may want to minimise the amount of interest you pay back. Either way, you should always compare lenders to get the best loan for you. You could even consider hiring a loan broker to find the best deal and help pitch your business to lenders.

Create a crowdfunding campaign

Sites such as Kickstarter.com allow strangers to donate to your cause. This could include a business that you want to set up. There are many other strategies of crowdfunding that could include hosting a paid workshop or running a market stall. The key is to get people interested in your cause, or at least offer something else worth paying for, the profits of which can be used to fund your dream business.

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Consider peer-to-peer lending

Peer-to-peer lending networks are new to the internet age and are an alternative to standard loans. Other users contribute money to your cause much like a loan, which you then pay back. Multiple people can contribute to a single loan, making it possible to borrow large amounts of money. There are many different peer-to-peer lending sites such as RateSetter.com. Compare different sites to get the best interest rates.

Seek out investors

Another option is to seek out investors who are willing to pay a sum of money to get your business off the ground. In return, they will generally expect a share of your company profits. Getting an investor on your side requires a strong business plan and good incentives. There are lots of benefits to getting help from an investor.

Whilst they will have shares in your profits, you won’t have to pay any interest as you would with a loan. Investors may also be successful business owners themselves and many will be willing to offer business advice that could be valuable. The downside is that you have the extra pressure of making enough of a profit to please them, otherwise their investment will have been for nothing.

Find a business partner

Going into a business venture with somebody else as a partner could help halve the overall costs. You may even be able to fund your startup without having to borrow or seek investment. If you know someone equally business-minded who shares your vision, it could be an idea worth considering.

Showing You’re Proof Positive of a Good Investment

Many business owners go out on a limb to startup their own business. For almost all entrepreneurs, their ethos is that they’ll do anything to make their dream come true of owning their own business and brand. However, personal funds can only get you so far, and especially when you want to expand so, you’re out of that learner’s stage. When you have a viable business plan, you’re more likely to gain a loan from a bank.

If you want an investor to come on board, you need to show a proven track record of success. This is a scary yet exciting moment in any business’s life as you’re trying to impress a total stranger, yet someone who is quite rightfully, inspecting you and your small business. There many routes you could take to show you’re worthy of a significant investment and find the right type of funding.

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A Powerful Vision

Investors have to be taken in by your passion, but most of all, they need to believe your vision. You can demonstrate your competitiveness by displaying detailed growth patterns, that have been measured both monthly and in line with the global economy; i.e. every financial quarter. Your vision should be, of course, inside the realm of possibility.

You must also calculate the liquidity of your business, so as to offer any collateral to the investor. Factor in any and all assets that you own that might be able to be used as a safety net, should profits not correlate in tune with your vision. A positive vision also examines the possibility of shortcomings, and investors would rather have the truth than it be sugar-coated.

Where’s the Proof

It’s brilliant if you can show the investor hard copy evidence of your recent business history. You should not give anyone outside the business, access to your online folders with precious documents in, however with document storage services, you can bank all your contracts, tax reports, and profit margins.

Your annual revenue can be proved by and believed more when the investor has an official hard copy in their hands, signed off by the relevant authorities. Having a storage service at your disposal also gives the investor more confidence that your records are safe from harm.

Online data is regularly stolen or corrupted by malware, but if you have the inner workings of your business, in a real-world form, you’re more reliable for the request of valuable records.

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Forecasts and Figures

It’s all well and good to show evidence of your past and the goals you’ve hit. However, investors want to see what the future holds. Based on the evidence, you should conduct research to create a forecast of the growth you expect your business to achieve.

Therefore, when you arrive at requesting a figure of investment money, you show what the investor stands to make. Include in your forecasts, the prediction of how well new services and products might are likely met, while going off of customer research findings and surveys of your customers.

Every business wants to grow, but as a small business, you have to forge a reputation. Presenting your case to potential investors can be nerve-wracking, but if you have all the right figures, forecasts and evidence of your business and the success it has achieved, you’re more serious.

Getting Started In Hospitality — What You Need To Do First

If you’ve got passion and drive to start a business in the hospitality industry, then why not get started? Many entrepreneurs target this type of business because it is customer facing. You can immediately identify what is working and pleasing to the customer. You can also see immediately what isn’t working. Best of all you get feedback face to face. While this kind of work is ideally suited to a ‘people person’, anyone can get started and make it work. Of course, there are a few things you need to do before that all-important launch:

The Big Idea

Hospitality is a huge industry and is worth billions of dollars. Where will you fit in? What is your big idea? You might choose to produce and sell smoothies. But where will you sell them? Are you going to be a street vendor or will you have a smoothie bar in the city center? The logistics of your business idea might determine the premises required. After all, you’ll need to power your ice machine and your blender. If you sell hot food, you’ll need power for the oven or stove. And food will need to be stored safely in a refrigerator.

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Jot down all of your ideas, and try to narrow them down to three or four that really interest you. Consider the working conditions, and the initial outlay for equipment, vans, or premises. Now you need to do your research. Find out who is already in your local area providing a similar service. Is there a gap in the market you can fill by choosing different products, or a different place to market? Once you refined your business proposition, you’re ready to start figuring out the finer details.

Certify

Make sure you are qualified to work in the food and drinks industry. There are many food hygiene, health and safety, and alcohol permits to apply for. The easiest way to find out what you need is to talk to your local government office. They will be able to steer toward the right department to manage your applications. The certification you need will vary from place to place. Make sure you have the right licenses for your local area.

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Investment

If you’re new to the business world, you might find it quite difficult to raise funds from a lender like a bank. You can try crowdfunding a product (via Kickstarter or Indiegogo) that would benefit the type of people who often visit those kinds of websites. You might also be able to find business partners willing to take a share of your business. In all of these cases, you must have a detailed business plan and proposal. You must prove your qualification and experience is relevant to make this business work.

Premises and Equipment

The hospitality industry relies on fit for purposes premises that attract the type of customer you’re catering for. If you want to sell home-made ice-cream, your customers will need a family-friendly diner-style venue. You might need to consider how the kids that come in can be entertained while they’re there. Of course, if you’re producing and selling ales and beers, then an adults-only bar with music and sports screens might be more appropriate.

Of course, you will also need the equipment to produce the food and drink you are selling. All of this needs to be in place and working before you can launch. It might also need to be inspected by your local authority, so allow time for this. Training for use may also be required for your employees. Finally, you need to put your brand on the door. Your business name is only half of it. The rest is in the font, colors, and other design elements.

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Marketing

You should have a website up and running before your launch event. This is the first thing people will look for when they receive their invitation or opening notification. Set up your social media pages, and start posting to your website every day. If you’re selling pizzas, talk about the health benefits of some of the toppings. If you’re opening a milkshake bar, talk about the farms where you source the milk. There are plenty of relevant topics you can choose from.

Remember, you’re in the hospitality business. Your bar or restaurant should be about a pleasant experience as much as good food or drink. Make sure that brand message is present in all your adverts and campaigns. Make people feel welcome from the moment you open your doors. Don’t forget to offer customers a great reason to come back again soon.

Here’s What You Do and Don’t Need to Know about Computers During a Startup

If you’re starting a business, you’ll already know about the multitude of things you need to consider. Once upon a time, you probably thought the product was the main thing to get right, but that’s far from the truth. There’s advertising, logo and identity design, brand development, and just about everything else. And with a lot of business now conducted online, you’ll need a computer degree to top it off. Or, will you? The world of online marketing can seem daunting to the uninitiated, but you may not need to know as much as you think.

That’s why we’ve put together a list of things you do and don’t need to know about computers when starting out.

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YOU DO

Need to know how create a good website. Getting your enterprise off the ground will be impossible without an online presence. To get a grip on this, you’ll need to master what people want from your website. You’ll need to find a way to inform customers about your product in the most succinct way possible. You’ll also need to explain why they should choose you instead of the many other products online!

Need to acknowledge the importance of social media. Just a few years ago, social media and business didn’t mix. But, the truth couldn’t be more different now. Having a strong social media presence is the best way to build a loyal customer base. This is where you’ll conduct the majority of your client interaction. It’s also where you’ll show the personality behind the brand. And personality is what could set your product apart! The good news is, this isn’t as difficult as you might think. If you already use social media personally, you’ll know what to do to make this work.

YOU DON’T

Need to master web design. This may seem contradictory to the first point but bear with us. As stated, you need to produce good content for your website. But, you don’t need to know the ins and outs of coding and design to display that content. Instead, search for one of many web templates out there. These will take care of all that complex stuff for you.

Need to be a computer whizz. With so much of your business now online, you might feel the need to know the ins and outs of your computer. After all, you need to fix it as soon as possible if anything happens. It’s the only way to avoid losing business. But, fear not. Companies like Windward Technology work with businesses like yours to fix any technological breakdowns. They offer fast response times and can have you back online in no time. There is some cost involved, but it’s worthwhile. Better that than taking things into your own hands!

Need to master SEO. We speak a lot about search engine optimization, and it can seem like a foreign language to a beginner. If SEO haunts your nightmares, turn to one of the many companies which offer to take care of it for you!

10 Things to Consider When Creating a Successful Product

If you’re looking to start up your own business and have a few ideas in your head — before you do anything else, you should make a checklist of all things your product will need.

  1. Easy

People don’t want to be messing around trying to work a product, no one has time for that. So when thinking about ideas, make sure that it’s simple enough to use.

The easy-to-use first generation iPhone released in June 2007
  1. Interesting

You need to think outside the box. There are so many different things out there nowadays that it’s hard to find something that stands out. So have a long, hard think about what can make your idea more intriguing than the next one.

  1. Meaningful

The best way you’re going to reach out to consumers, is if you create something that offers a solution to people’s problems. Like a scent machine; the use is in the name, and it offers to release some wonderful scents within your home which are vegan and pet-friendly too.

Keep it simple enough to understand, while solving someone’s issue.

  1. Longevity

Think of something that will be of use to the consumers for not just today, but tomorrow and the next day, and the next. If you don’t do this, your product may just end up being a fad.

  1. Entertaining

Create something that will make people excited to go out and buy it. If you can make your product enjoyable, as well as productive, you may stand a real chance at success.

  1. Know the value

You won’t get a lot of people buying your product if they don’t see the value in it. It’s even worse if they invest in your idea, only to come to the conclusion that it’s not worth the purchase.

This could be could terrible for business, especially if the customer openly shares their opinions.

  1. Competition

It’s very easy to get knocked out of the ring by another competitor, so you must always be on your game. Don’t think of an idea that means bringing out several products, instead create something that has all of those qualities in one item. If you don’t do this, your competitor will beat you to it, and could quite possibly steal all of your consumers because they will be known as the ‘better version.’

  1. Be unique

You may go through this whole process, only to realise at the end that you’ve made an exact copy of something that already exists. You want to avoid this happening at all costs!

  1. Know your industry

This all comes with time and experience. If you’re new to all of this, familiarise yourself with the basics first. You are more likely to fail if you have no idea where you are or what you’re doing.

  1. Ask for feedback

This is so important, but a lot of people out there ignore this step because unfortunately, the truth hurts sometimes. But if you expect to be successful, you’re going to have to listen to what your consumers want, what they don’t like about your product, and how you can make it better.

Unnecessary Costs of Starting a Business

There are plenty of costs involved when starting a business (hiring people, office rental, energy costs, etc.) with the average start-up cost coming in at around $30,000. On the flip-side, micro-businesses can be kick-started at approximately $3,000 or less.

While many initial costs are necessary, it’s fair to say that many are, in fact, a wasteful investment. And, given that cash flow and investment is all-important at the early startup stage, it makes sense for new businesses to avoid unnecessary expenses and eliminate them entirely.

At first glance some of these costs may appear to be minimal, when you add them all up, you could arrive at a significant amount of money. Which, of course, could be much better invested elsewhere, and provide you with a stronger foundation for success.

Here are four things to consider that can help you reduce any unnecessary costs of starting a business.

Hire flexible people

If you can avoid hiring people for as long as possible, it’s advisable.

Ultimately, as your business grows you’ll have to consider taking on people (employees) to give you a helping hand — just be strategic and selective with the personalities you hire. Your startup should be looking for very specific types of individuals in its early stages.

You need employees with multiple skill sets and the ability to help you out with various tasks in a variety of areas (maybe social media and sales generation).

Naturally as you begin to make more money, you can hire people for specific roles and define the role of existing employees. But in the early stages, flexible people are key.

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Don’t rent an office straight away

Room rental and rates will cost you money you can’t afford as a startup. It makes no sense to spend all that cash on an office when there are so many other options to consider.

For example, the go-to is working from a home office to save on rent altogether. Or you might visit The Hoxton Mix or a similar co-working space in your area to rent a cheap desk — or just use as a virtual address. Coffee franchises like Starbucks, have become quite popular as daily work areas for “solopreneurs”. I written a few articles for Virgin.com from there.

And there maybe other small businesses in your area who would be willing to rent out a single desk for you to work on your business, for a much lower market rate than you would find anywhere else.

Watch your energy usage

Wherever your business is, make sure that you are keeping on top of your energy bills. Even the simple act of turning off a light when you leave a room can help you save a significant sum of money over your first year.

And if you apply the same efficiency principles to every other electrical device, you will find those savings start to multiply by a huge amount.

Trade in your expensive analog phone line and use smartphone or laptop with services like Skype and Google Hangouts instead. With more people getting used to contacting businesses online, phone lines are an unnecessary initial cost.

It’s also important to factor in your energy usage into your quotation and invoice, particularly if you’re providing a service like web design, application development, graphic design, interior design, writing, editing, and just anything else that requires you using software to create a product. This will help you recoup some of the costs.

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Paying and being paid

A final point — never forget the importance of cash flow to your business. You always want to be cash flow positive. It will save you from significant debt over your first couple of years.

Try and collect any monies owed as quickly as possible, while holding on to your own payments for as long as possible. It’s imperative that you invoice your clients to get paid on-time.

Set-up lines of credit if necessary, as you will often find that the interest rates involved are much lower than you will find on a credit card.

But, all things considered, it’s always best to bootstrap your company by growing at a steady pace and reinvesting your earnings.

7 Essential Startup Expenses You Should Not Avoid

When you’re starting a new business, money is likely to be tight, which means that, not only will you want to get the most value from what capital you do have available to you, but you’ll also want to concentrate your spending on the most important things your company needs to get started.

With that in mind, here are the essential startup expenses you shouldn’t avoid:

Your Own Domain

Right now, the internet is where it’s at, which means that you should think about purchasing your own domain and hosting package (I recommend Bluehost and SiteGround).

This will not only give you the ability to set up your own website but will also give you a professional email address from which to correspond with clients.

A Website

Of course, it would be pointless buying a domain without actually taking the time to set up your own website.

If you want your online presence to be as professional as possible, hiring experienced web designers to create it, and professional writers to fill it with content is essential and will help your site to get noticed by search engines.

Accountancy Services

If you want to make the most of your capital and ensure that your finances are in good shape, there’s no getting around it, you really do need to employ an accountant, even if it’s only for an hour a month to check that the books are in order.

Professional Liability Insurance

If you want to protect your finances from claims for everything from the inability to provide a service to errors in the product or service you are selling, you need professional liability insurance.

Even if you think you are doing everything right, there is a chance that someone may decide to take action against you, and this could lead to financial ruin if you don’t have the right insurance in place, so look into a policy today.

SSL Certificates

If your business is operating online (and it should be), you really should invest in an SSL Certificate for each and every website you operate.

An SSL certificate can cost as little as $9.99, and it will protect your customers’ data, as well as giving them confidence that they can buy from you without risk.

Database Hosting

If you’re serious about running a successful business, you will need to also run databases.

You need databases to store customer data, databases for staff information and databases to store details of the products you sell, which means that you can’t just use your computer.

You need to either invest in your own database hosting machines (expensive) or use a database hosting company (as little as $100 per month).

Premises

If you are running more than a one man operation, or if you are running the kind of business where you will need to meet clients, you should start looking for office space/premises as soon as possible.

The better the areas your business is based in, the more prestige you will have, but don’t blow the budget on an expensive office unless you can really afford it.

 

What are the startup expenses you believe to be essential to a successful company? Feel free to let me know via Twitter: @phresh_ID