Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Confessions of a Business Adviser: Common Mistakes I See Start-Ups Make

In my role as a business adviser I see a vast range of businesses from early concept stage, to being nearly ready to launch and beyond. The enthusiasm for their idea can sometimes leave them over looking some vital steps or jumping the gun and making rash decisions that can cost them later.



Here are some of the common mistakes I see start-ups make that others can learn from:


1. Setting up a business as limited company without knowing other legal structures

I’ve met a number of clients who have registered their business as limited company without any knowledge of it as they thought that’s how they start their business legally. They are not aware of there are other legal structures i.e. sole trader, that could be far more appropriate for their operation. A business adviser's role is to help you make informed decision explaining different legal structures including the advantages and disadvantages. Often the people start ups go to for advice on this are not impartial, but people who could gain from advising them to register their company in a certain way. Here is a link to the blog I put together on 'choosing the right legal structure for yourbusiness' with some more guidance on this.


2. Spending money on a full website without planning

Not all business needs a website when they start up. For some they can simply set up a free facebook business page to start with especially B2C (business to consumer) business with limited budget for marketing.

If you do decide to have a website for your business, you’ll need to consider:

• Registering your Domain name and website hosting company

• Are you going to build a website via DIY Website builder or pay for a web developer? And what are the costs (financial and time) for both?

• Making sure you have the ownership of your website and the website is mobile friendly (essential now for SEO - Search Engine Optimisation)

• How do I keep the website updated?

• Understanding SEO to make sure your website can actually be found!

Our 'Building a Social Media Strategy' course can be a good pre-curser to making this decision as it raises your awareness of the free digital marketing platforms available and the capacity within those to build an effective online presence. If you decide to go ahead with social media or a website, more help is available. Click here for a full list of the training on offer.



3. Signing a lease without seeking legal advice

Another very common mistake I often see start-ups make is taking on premises without seeking legal advice. Recently I had a client who took on a commercial retail premises completely unaware that she had entered a tenancy agreement that meant she is not allowed to put a signage outside her shop. The lease agreement may be in a standard format, but you should still have it checked to ensure it fits your business requirements. Ask your solicitor to review any lease agreement prior to signing it, and read it thoroughly yourself. Money spent on good professional advice at this stage can prevent you getting caught up in expensive dispute later on.


If you are in the process of developing a business idea and would like advice on how to start FREE impartial expert advice is available through the Enterprise Hub Programe. Contact 0151 706 8113 or enterprisehub@thewo.org.uk for more information and to check your eligibility.

by Business Start-Up Adviser Yan Miao





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