Business planning fact sheets
Tuesday June 25, 2024

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If you are just starting out in business and would like some pointers, here are 10 essential tips on how to be successful.


Ten top tips for a successful start

1. Write a business plan.
Your business plan provides a structure by which to give focus and direction to your ideas, and acts as a benchmark to monitor your progress. Although many businesses get by without a business plan, any successful entrepreneur will tell you the degree and length of success relies upon a strong business plan.

2. Know the law.
Make sure you know the laws you need to comply with, as there is a considerable amount of red tape to deal with. For example, talk to HM Revenue & Customs about tax issues before you start and understand all health and safety laws that apply to your business. Be up to date with all the legislation specific to your business such as the restrictions on health claims.

3. Understand everything you can about your customers.
Before you get started, it pays to research your customers and talk to the people you’ll be looking to sell to. By communicating with them, it will help you to understand what they are looking for in a therapist and a service allowing you to adapt your service and USP before it is too late.

4. Listen to advice.
There are lots of sources you can get guidance from. Talk to people who’ll be honest about your business idea and listen to what they say. Banks and government run business associations are good starting points.

5. Dip your toe in the water first.
It’s possible to run many therapy businesses on a part-time basis. An effective way to see if your business idea is viable is to stay in full-time employment, while managing your business in the evenings and at weekends. This will allow you to check if your business is viable before taking the big step of losing your regular income.

6. Keep costs down at the outset.
Keep expenditure down as much as possible when starting up. Do you really need new premises or could you work from a spare room in your house? Look at your advertising costs. Don’t plough every penny you have into the business unless you have absolutely no choice. No matter how well you plan, most people find they need a bit more money for something after a few months.

7. Make use of free publicity and networking.
It’s easy to waste money on ineffective marketing, so think hard about anything you spend. Word of mouth is often the best form of advertising for a therapist, so something as simple as asking satisfied customers to tell their friends about you can have a big impact. And learn to network - talk to as many people as you can about your business. You never know where those conversations might lead.

8. Set up books and records as soon as possible.
It can cost a lot of money to have an accountant sort out messy records further down the line, so get bookkeeping systems set up properly before you start trading. Make sure you keep all business receipts – even from before you start trading if they relate to your business – you might be able to use them to offset tax. Having a good bookkeeping system will also mean you can keep track of your business progress from day one.

9. Prepare your support network.
Starting a business is hard work. You’re going to need to devote a lot of time to it for at least the first year and probably well beyond that. Make sure those closest to you understand the size of the task and the sacrifices you’ll need to make to ensure your business is a success.

10. Be resilient, adapt and change.
There will be times in the first few months when things don’t go your way. Whatever that may be, learn from it and keep going. Be prepared to adapt. One great advantage for start-up businesses is that they can evolve and change direction much faster than larger more established ones. Be prepared to refine your business plan if the right opportunity presents itself.

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