You've set up a company, what's next?
You've just formed your company and got the Certificate of Incorporation - Congratulations. Now where do you go?
You may feel as though you want to get straight into the dirty work of running your company, getting clients on board as soon as you can. However, don't rush into things, there are some key pieces of administration you need to do before you start trading. These may seem long winded but can be worth it in the long run.
1. Write your business plan
A good business plan is what makes a good business. There's no doubt that you already have an idea of what to include in it. But having it down on paper and formatted in a way that makes sense to you means you can reference it whenever you need a little nudge in the right direction. It can also be good to have it down in case you need to show it to anyone, for example, a financial advisor may want to see it before making any decisions about the viability of the company.
Because of this, your business plan should be to the point and not go off on a tangent. It could actually harm your company if you talk too much about things that are not important. This is because, when potential investors look over your plan, you don't want to confuse them which can lead to them not seeing the full potential of your company.
It can be hard to know where to start when writing your first business plan, but don't fear, there are templates out there that can help you, for example, this one from The Prince's Trust*. Online tools and templates aren't just limited to business plans, take a look out there and see what you may need that's specific for your industry.
2. Your logo
Your logo is as important as your company's name. It's how members of the public and your potential customers will know your company and be able to set you aside from the competition.
Because of this it is important that your logo says everything about the company that you want it to say. If your company is professional you want a logo that's professional. However if you're running a nursery for example, then you don't want a logo that's corporate and serious. Your logo should suit your company and the industry you're running in.
You could ask for a logo to be made professionally by a designer. This, however, can come at a cost and you may want to try and get something cheaper until you have free-flowing money in your company. A cutback like this may make sense in the short term when money is tight, however, you may end up paying for it in the long run if clients do not find your logo to be good quality.
3. Have the correct registered address
Your registered address will be on all of your company documents, from your letterheads to your invoices.
While you're looking for a permanent office you may consider having your home address as your registered office. This is OK as a short term fix, if you don't mind being hounded with sales calls and business letters while you're at home. It's also worth remembering that the address you use will be available for anyone to view through the Companies House online register.
However, you can pay a company to have your mail forwarded to them at a professional address until you're fully set up away from the house. This is known as having a virtual mailbox and can help you to seem professional to outsiders who only know you by looking at your address. Company Wizard can help with a professional London office address.
There are some restrictions on an address you can use. You can use a PO Box providing a physical address is provided too, although this may not look very professional for potential customers.
4. Have a website
An online presence is just as important as a physical presence in today's society. Through a website you can advertise your services, display information about how you operate your company and you can even sell your products or services.
There are several software packages that allow you to build your own website without needing any knowledge of what you're doing behind the scenes. These can however all look similar to one another and this can mean that your clients are able to tell that you've not paid much (if anything) for your website. Because of this, it may be better for you to look at paying a designer to create a bespoke website for you. This website will have the features you want and not just generic features that anyone can have. This can end up costing you much more though, so you should always carefully weigh this up.
5. Open a business bank account
When running as a sole trader, it's wise to keep the business' money separate from yours. However, when you're running as a limited company, this is a legal requirement. This is because there is now a legal separation between yourself and the company. This can be done through having a business bank account.
Your business bank accounts will hold most, if not all of the money in the business. You can personally transfer money to this account through the Director's Loan Account (or for Partnerships this would be the Proprietor's or Partner's Drawings Account). The company will have to pay this money back to the director though, which can be done instead of the director taking a wage until the loan is paid off. Your accountant should be able to advise on the best way to approach this for your company.
By having the money separated in this way, it is easier for everyone to discern what money belongs to the company and what money belongs to the director(s)/partner(s).
*The Company Wizard is not affiliated with The Prince's Trust and cannot be held responsible for the content of external pages.