Free resources to help you launch your startup faster, so you can get talking to potential customers and grow
When it comes to launching a startup business for the first time, there can be a lot to learn.
Much of the first few months can easily slip away doing admin and creating a website if we are not careful.
Taking precious time away from talking to customers and growing your startup.
So to help our community out, we have put together Startup Essentials. A list of the top essential things to sort out to get your business up and running without the headache.
Launching your website can be an exciting stage. It helps you feel like your business is real!
However, you wouldn’t be alone if you spent months on your website before launching, because it turned out to be more effort than you thought.
That’s why we have put together some helpful resources below to help you understand what to build and save money getting your website launched in the next 7 days.
Have you given your startup a name? If so it’s time to register a domain name. (The thing people enter into Google to find you).
Think of it like a signpost to tell the world how to reach you.
There are several ways to buy your domain.
Here are some top domain providers:
- IONOS https://www.ionos.co.uk/domains/cheap-domain-names
- Name cheap https://www.namecheap.com/domains/
- GoDaddy https://www.godaddy.com/en-uk/domains/cheap-domain-names
- Google Domains https://domains.google/intl/en_uk/features/
- 123Reg https://www.123-reg.co.uk/domain-names/
Top things to watch out for:
- Is your domain name of choice already taken or going to be hard to rank on google? The last thing you want is to have to re-brand your company due to a legal battle with an existing company.
- Second year renewal costs. Many providers give a massive discount for year one then hike their prices for year two. Pick one where the overall ongoing costs are reasonable.
- Privacy protection – When you register a domain it requires your address and contact details to be published on the internet. As many of us don’t want that, some services offer a privacy protection option so that they publish their details instead of yours. And pass the messages on to you. Keeping your personal details off the internet. Look out for privacy protection on your chosen domain package.
- SLL and email and even hosting – Domains are pretty competitive. So there are many bonuses being offered. Look at what else you get beyond the domain name that could be useful like email, free SSL certificates or website hosting.
- Watch out for the our super easy everything with us service. Reputable domain registrars will let you buy the domain from them and then point it to other website hosting services so you have the flexibility to move things around. Make sure with your choice of provider you are not tied in to all their products and can for example host the website where you want or choose a separate email provider in the future.
Website hosting and template builders
It’s time to build your website. But first you need to think about where is it going to be hosted and on what platform.
There are a couple of options here.
You can hire a website developer and get them to build you a website
Or you can use one of the new website template hosting services who take care of it for you.
Or you can use a popular CMS (Content management system) like WordPress, a website hosting provider who support WordPress website and then add a library we love called Elementor to make editing your website super easy just like the website builder. This allows you to get the full power of WordPress (Plugins for whatever you want) with the simplicity of being able to change your website without paying an expensive website developer.
And if you are running a digital shop, you may consider a dedicated e-commerce platform like Shopify.
Luckily, there are many choices to make creating your first website easier:
- Squarespace – Squarespace host your website and builder all in one easy to use platform. They grew super fast as the place to launch your idea. Some of the designs vary in style so check out the templates before you commit to joining as we think it’s a matter of taste. Also keep in mind they have good integrations for some things but the platform has its limits in order to keep it simple for its users. So as you grow you might have to leave the platform.
- Wix – Wix is famous for its hosting and website builder offering. It’s aimed again at those wanting an intuitive builder in the DIY market. Some of the templates look good. Watch out for speed as some people have said their websites are slow once the grow and compare costs to over providers.
- Weebly (Square) – A popular choice amongst people who want a website builder with eCommerce. They even add other services to help you promote your business using marketing an ads.
- Webflow – Another rising star for a template website that is popular amongst designers, marketeers and developers as it allows the power of an easy editor for you, with the customisation a more experienced developer or designer needs to create a great looking and performing website.
- WordPress + Elementor + Themeforest (Our favourite) – Maybe we are biased but we love the flexibility having your own WordPress website with the awesome template editor add on that is Elementor. Once installed it is as easy as many of the other platforms in the list. And if you want a head-start, there are thousands of designed templates you can choose on ThemeForest that are built in elementor too to save thousands on web design. There is a bit of a learning curve to getting it installed but once its all running, life is easy and you can evolve your website for years. You also save money as hosting is normally cheaper this way than the everything in one place website builders.
Confused where to start? Our £100 setup and advice service has got your back. Speak to us and we can save time and put it into building your business instead.
We also offer free one years website hosting to businesses we believe in, that are trying to do something good for their customers.
When you are ready to start trading and reach customer’s you may want to think about forming your company.
In the UK this may look like registering a LTD company with companies house. Other company structures exist including being self employed or a partnership.
One low cost service to form a UK company can be found here:
In the USA you may want to decide between a Corporation or LLC. Read more about forming a company in the USA here:
In the EU you can also form a company to trade inside the EU or be a sole trader if you are a citizen. Read more about forming a company in the EU here:
TOP TIP: One thing to keep in mind is your obligations as a director or solve-trader for where you have decided to register. In the UK for example you will be required to file a confirmation statement and accounts annually.
Make sure you understand the obligations you have for the company you have set-up to avoid fines and rushing your first set of accounts. There are likely costs involved in preparing and submitting these things so keep this in mind.
Likewise we all have to learn it sometime. So don’t let this be the thing that puts you off starting your dream!
Other things to think about when forming a company include:
– Share allocation (Who will be the initial shareholders and how much will each person get)
– Articles of Association & Shareholders Agreement (Documents that go along with the company formation)
– Registered address (Will your address be a fake address for example with postal redirection to protect your home address from being public
– Registering for tax / as an employer
While we are on the serious stuff. One thing that is easily over looked is insurance for your startup. If you are going out to clients or visiting your premises or having a stand at an event, they will expect you have at least public liability insurance.
Search online for Business Insurance for the countries you operate in and make sure you have enough cover. It’s not as scary as it sounds and for a small online business it could be as low as £50-£100.
Start Up Bank Account
If you are going to get paid and start buying stuff it’s a good idea to have a separate business bank account so that you keep everything clear of your personal account and know where you are at financially.
Plus, once you get that first customer they need somewhere to pay you!
You may be surprised to learn that Company bank accounts can come with some surprise costs. Which is very different to when you are used to getting personal banking for free!
In the UK many banks favour startup businesses and provide more than a bank account. Options to consider include:
– Monzo Business (Benefits include per debit transaction fees (Accurate 05/2023)
– Natwest (They have a business accelerator and community you can use if your business is growing)
– Virgin Money Business
In the USA
– Chase Bank
For more see https://bankbonus.com/best/banks-for-startups/
– Revolut business
Do your research, check their fees and charges and check they will keep your money safe.
Most banks allow you to apply online and so long as you have your company registered it can be quite easy to do.
When it comes to email it can be the lifeblood of your business. So you want to make sure your email address looks professional and your emails are getting delivered and you receive those all important customer messages.
Whilst there are many email providers there are two which are the obvious choices:
– Google Apps – This is a great low cost way to not only get email, but also apps like google sheets, google docs and shared storage on google drive. Given the choice we go google if we can.
– Microsoft Outlook / Office 365 – If you are going to be paying for the Microsoft office 365 apps then you may find having everything in one place easier. Outlook has been the long-standing app of choice for decades so it’s worth considering.
You may surprised to learn that there is a third common alternative:
– Use the same hosting provider as your website domain provider – For example IONOS or BLUEHOST. These providers often bundle free email addresses with their domain service. You can then add these details to apps like Gmail or Outlook without taking their premium packages.
Top tip. If you have many email accounts, you can always set up email to forward to a mailbox service like Google or Outlook helping to keep those initial startup costs low. Just be aware that reputation is also worth considering and can take a while for your email to become trusted. So don’t let cost be the only criteria here.
Time to start growing your business. One golden rule is to not rely solely on the likes of Facebook and Instagram to keep our customer audience that we are building. So the number one thing to do is to move them onto your mailing list.
You email list might be a way to:
– Send offers and promotions and discounts
– Let them know about upcoming events you are running
– Teach them something on your topic through what we call a nurture campaign. – A series of emails we design to take the customer on a journey and keep you top of mind. Without having to write a newsletter every month!
There are hundreds of email list software providers for startups. Here are a few we recommend:
– SendInBlue (Brevo)
– Active Campaign
Talk to us about setting up a nurture campaign
Google Business Listing
One thing your business will want is google to find you. A good way to start this process is to claim your listing on google places. Especially if you are a physical location. Having a google listing will allow you to start capturing reviews.
Another step to getting found is to register your website with googles search bots. This tells google you exist and want it to crawl your website content helping people to find you.
Once you start trading and spending money you are going to want to keep track of all those expenses. There are many benefits to having an accountant when you are first starting out and they may have a software preference.
But if you are going it alone, here are a few great accounting platforms for startups and growing businesses to make it all a bit easier:
– Xero – Modern, easy to use and pretty quick to manage your processes. Plus works great with a whole host of add-ons like stripe and go cardless to manage collecting money online or via direct debit.
– Intuit – Intuit grew around small business owners after it realised, they found traditional accounting software like Sage hard to use
– Ember Accounting – A new kid on the block. Ember not only helps you manage your accounting software, but their in-built chat connects directly with accountants so you get qualified advice at a lower cost.
CRM Software (Contact Relationship Management)
Spreadsheets are great at first for tracking who you are speaking to. But as the number of people increases you will want to invest in CRM. Many CRMs also overlap with your Marketing Email Software. A good CRM will automatically import all emails you send into your CRM and your appointments. So you have a single picture of your potential customers all in one place.
– Pipedrive – Pipedrive CRM shows your deals in a pipeline so you can visually see them tracking through. It meets all the basic features you could need and is customisable too.
– Zoho CRM – Zoho is part of a suite of tools for small and growing businesses. It doesn’t look quite as good as some other CRMs but it is a cheap alternative and integrates with other Zoho apps.
– HubSpot – Again part of a wider suite of tools HubSpot is a large player in the CRM market. Claiming free software as a USP. Of course, like most things some of the useful add-ons are not free and HubSpot at scale can get pricey but benefits from marketing and CRM integration.
When choosing a CRM the best thing to do is take the free trial for each. Map out your pipeline and see how you find using it. You will find you are using it more and more as your business grows so you want a choice you get on with.
Course Creation Platforms
Now you have a website and company you may be starting to think about creating some products. One popular choice is to start creating a digital course and online programmes for your customers.
There are several good options in this space we use with our clients:
– Mighty networks
Be aware that digital courses take a lot of effort to get customers to engage. So really think about the value you are bringing and if a course on its own is enough to get your customers to pay. When we work with clients, we often recommend a hybrid approach.
Free Visual App Design Tools For Beginners and Pros
If digital courses is not your thing then you may be thinking about software.
Gone are the days where we spend 12 months paying a development team £250,000 to come up with the first version of our software. Few!
Instead, it is far better to use a modern tool to design an interactive mock-up of what your app might look like and get out there talking to customers so you can be sure you are investing in building the right thing.
Here are the top ones we use when working with clients:
– Marvel App
– Balsamiq (Wireframing)
As you can see there are many things that need to be done when setting up your startup business for the first time. But don’t let it put you off. Reach out to Tom if you have any questions and he will be happy to answer them.