Stage 2: The second stage action items to tackle now are:

  • Creating a site map. List of all main topic areas of the site, as well as sub-topics, to develop a consistent, easy to understand navigational system.
  • Determining what resolutions to accommodate. As mobile adaptation rate is increasing, you may want to consider responsive design. This approach enables a site to seamlessly adjust on any screen, like a desktop, tablet or smartphone.
  • Plan your content. Knowing what you want to communicate and how much content you have will help guide the design process.

Stage 3: This stage will be a lot easier if you’ve ironed out the details in the first 2 stages, then designing the home page and all subsequent subpages should be straightforward. For example, knowing that the demographic of your target audience is single, female, middle-class, age 18 to 24, and college educated versus married, male, upper class, age 65 to 80, and retired definitely affects what design elements and applications to use.

Seeing page layouts with real content and photos, along with your logo and colours will really bring your vision of the site to life. Use this time to make necessary changes! If you’re working with experienced designers, they will provide mock-ups or prototypes in several developmental stages for feedback. Making changes is costly and more difficult to implement later.

Stage 4: The development of your website. Once the design work is done and approved, the website can be created. Your designer/developer will take all the individual graphic elements from the prototype and use them to create a functional site. Interactive elements like contact forms, flash animations and shopping carts will be implemented in this phase too. During this time, you’ll be able to make minor changes and corrections.

Stage 5: Is the Testing, Delivery and Launch. Your web developer will test your website, from complete functionality to compatibility issues. Additionally, the developer will check to be sure that all of the code written for your website validates – meeting current web standards. Once final approval is given, website files will be uploaded to your servers, and then the site will be pushed live to the public.

Stage 6: Maintenance: Now that it’s finally built, it’s equally as important to maintain your site. During the planning stage of this process, you already determined whether or not you would keep the maintenance in-house or outsource to a third party (like your web designer). If you decided you needed full control, the designer would’ve designed a site driven by a CMS to give you the ability to edit content areas of your site as well as add new pages.

Register an Accountant: As a business owner you want to feel in control of your own finances, and with cashflow being limited in the early stages it’s likely that you wouldn’t want to hire an accountant to begin with to help keep costs low. While it’s good to save some money to begin with, you should consider the benefits of an accountant to your business as you begin to scale the business.

Accountants understand many different aspects of tax laws and can often advise you on making decisions which can help your business positively. For example, there may be a tax relief you can apply to your accounts to reduce the amount owed to HMRC. An accountant will know about this and help you apply this. When it comes to year end, you’ll need to submit some sort of accounts.

For sole traders and partnerships, this would be in the form of a self-assessment; for limited companies this would be your year-end accounts. Sole traders and partnerships may find it easy enough to submit their self-assessment online with HMRC, but always consider if there could be a saving by using an accountant. Limited company accounts are far more difficult and so using an accountant at this stage is essential to ensure they are accurate and correct.

Register for VAT: You’ll be required to register your company for VAT. All businesses with VAT taxable turnover of £85,000 or more need to be registered. There is no VAT registration cost and you can use an accountant to complete your return, or file it yourself. You will need the following information to hand in order to register for VAT:

  • National Insurance (NI) number or ‘tax identifier’ – a unique taxpayer’s reference
  • Certificate of incorporation/incorporation details
  • Details of all associated businesses within the last two years
  • Business bank account details
  • Details of the business that has been transferred (acquired), if appropriate
  • The current way to register for VAT is online only

HMRC is paperless. All newly VAT-registered businesses are required to submit their VAT returns and any VAT payments electronically Registering for VAT online. In order to gain access to the VAT online services, you must first have registered for HMRC Online Services or the Government Gateway. Once you are all set up you can link your accounting software such as Xero to link your VAT returns that are submitted on a quarterly basis. This can be done by a few clicks of a button once set up which saves you time and money.

Setting up the supply chain: This can be another time-consuming activity, but to be honest you’ll prioritise setting up your main suppliers first and as you scale the business, you’ll be constantly adding suppliers.

As you’re a new company it’ll be difficult to get credit accounts. Most suppliers will credit search the business through Creditsafe (a piece of software you should also be investing in if your customers are a B-B so you can also credit check your customers and give them the correct credit limits).

The results from the supplier search on your business will likely give you a credit score of around 35-40 and a credit limit of £500. You may have to negotiate with suppliers to have this increased. If they are stubborn, try to set milestones you can both measure, a period of time which involves them giving you credit and you paying them back early or sometimes up front with a view to building the relationship quickly and them gaining your trust on paying. Some may even ask you to personally guarantee the credit.

I had this situation in the first business I ever set up. I negotiated a deal with my main supplier to buy 60% of our products through them. The first order was a proforma invoice that meant paying up front. Then they gave us £1k credit which was paid on time every month with a view to increase our credit limit every month by 1k if we did pay on time. Over the next 12 months we had built up a credit limit of 12k. When we were setting up with other suppliers, they would only give us a limit of £500 because the computer said “no”. So, this approach can work to build a good credit relationship with a supplier.

It’s very difficult in the beginning to get credit as your cash flow is so tight but there are strategies to assist you to be able to make it work. You may have to look at how you change your customers to help fund projects or to gain stock depending what your business does.

The benefit of having more suppliers does give you the opportunity to get the best prices by playing them off against one and other. I would always get 3 different quotes from each supplier to get our best price before placing an order. Again, this takes time because it’s usually the suppliers that delay the process because you find you are constantly waiting for them to come back to you with their best price. Being patient here is key as this can save you money depending on the size of the order being placed.

Staff Equity: As you scale and start to add key staff into your business to relieve you of some of the important day to day activities, then a way of securing and keeping hold of key staff is what we call staff equity.

This is a profit share of the year end accounts. I have this in all my businesses. In my first business I gave away 40% of my profits to key two members of staff. They both received 20% each. They’ve both help me scale the business in a way that I couldn’t have done on my own. Even though they are entitled to 20% each of the profits, I still own 100% of the business. I am the only share holder.

If you were to choose this route with any future staff members, it’s absolutely paramount that you do the following.

Within the employee contract make sure that the staff member is only entitled to the profit share based on performance at your discretion. I failed to do this the first time I allowed profit share and it bit me on the arse. If the person entitled to have the profit share isn’t putting in the extra commitment and performing as you would expect for their share, then the power is still in your hands to decide if they deserve a share of the hard-earned profits.

To be continued ……….