Every new business starts with an idea. Maybe there’s something you’re really knowledgeable and passionate about, or perhaps you think you’ve found a way to fill a gap in the marketplace. Wherever your interests lie, it’s almost guaranteed that there’s a way to turn it into a business.
Another option is to open a franchise of an established company. If you choose to go this route, a lot of the legwork has been done for you. The concept, brand following and business model are already in place; all you need is a good location and the means to fund your operation.
Once you’ve narrowed your list of ideas down to one or two, do a quick search for existing companies in your chosen industry. Learn what the current brand leaders are doing and figure out how you can do it better. If you think your business can deliver something other companies don’t (or deliver the same thing, but faster and cheaper), you’ve got a solid idea and are ready to create a business plan.
Research your market
Market research is all about testing your business idea with the general public to see if there is any interest in what you will be offering. There are two types of research, one is qualitative and the other is quantitative.
Quantitative research is used when you need to identify a numerical output and involves statistical analysis and mathematics. You may need to use this when you are calculating your market size for your product.
If you asked 1000 university student if they would buy your product and 850 of them said yes they would, which equates to 85%.
Then say that there are 25000 university students in the uk
Therefore, your potential market size will be 21250 university students.
If you know that the value of your product/service is £10, then this indicates that the total market value for your product/service in the UK is 21250 multiplied by £10, which equals £212,500.
So this is how quantitative research may be useful to your business.
Qualitative research on the other hand is based on opinions, it can be used to explain and understand quantitative research it expresses what your potential customers think or feel about your product/service.
You can gather data from this type of research, through focus groups, surveys and questionnaires.
Ideally, you need a mixture of both quantitative and qualitative research to gain a reliable picture of the market and to define and hone your proposition.
Other places to gather information
ü There are a whole host of places you can find statistics on your chosen market.
ü Office for National Statistics website
ü YouGov Sixth Sense,
ü The British Library Business & IP Centre
ü British Library’s workshops and events section for opportunities to network with others at the same stage as you and get advice from experts
ü Direct competitor
If you find all of this a bit much you may require expert assistance it might be worth paying for research tailored specifically to you, a professional service might be helpful in targeting the right people and asking the right questions if you are unsure.
It’s always worth checking out a few to make sure you are getting the best possible price, but you should make sure you use an accredited company.
A good place to start is the Market Research Society’s Research Buyers Guide, which lists all of the accredited companies in the UK.
Choosing a name for your new business
After you have decided on your business the next thing you will have to decide on is a name. It’s a good idea to spend some time when choosing a name for your business because it will be one of the first things your customers hears and sees.
It’s a good idea to have your company reflect the type of business that you’re in, but try not to restrict your name to something that may not still match your business in the future. For example, ‘’Benjamin’s tables’’ you may choose that name because at the moment you only sale tables, but in the future you may want to add other types of products, so you need to be mindful of this.
You will also need to abide by the various rules and restrictions imposed by company law when making your choice.
Considerations for limited companies
If you are going down the Limited Company route, you will need to register your new name with Companies House.
The Companies House website contains detailed information on naming conventions to ensure your name passes various tests for suitability. For example, all Ltd company names must end in ‘limited’, ‘plc’ or ‘ltd’. The name must not be offensive or too similar to an existing name.
When you don’t have to use ‘limited’ in your name
The names of most private limited companies in the UK must end in either ‘Limited’ or ‘Ltd’.
You can apply to leave ‘limited’ out of your name, for example if you’re a charity or sports club.
Sole trader or partnerships
People operating as sole traders or in general partnerships can trade under their own names, or choose a different business name.
Before using your chosen name, check that it isn’t already being used.
If a sole trader at the other end of the country is using it, there may not be a problem. However, if another local business, company or national firm is using it, you should choose a different name.
You should do the following checks:
check local phone books, business directories and the internet
make sure that your proposed name – or something similar – hasn’t been registered by a company
make sure that the name isn’t too similar to a word or expression that has been registered as a trade mark.
You can trade using a different name to your registered name. This is known as a ‘business name’.
Business names must not:
include ‘limited’, ‘Ltd’, ‘limited liability partnership, ‘LLP’, ‘public limited company’ or ‘plc’
be the same as an existing trade mark
contain a ‘sensitive’ word or expression unless you get permission
You’ll need to register your name as a trade mark if you want to stop people from trading under your business name.
You can’t use another company’s trade mark as your business name.
Use of sensitive words and expressions in business names
There are some words and expressions that you can’t use in a business name unless you have official permission. These are words that might give a false impression about your business. They are known as sensitive words.
The rules about sensitive words apply to all types of businesses and fall into five main groups:
words that suggest your business is of national importance or status – e.g. British, National, International, European
words that suggest a special status – e.g. Association, Authority, Chartered, Council, Institute, Society
words that suggest a particular function – e.g. Charity, Insurance, Register, Trust
words that suggest a specialised activity – e.g. Health Centre
words that suggest connections with government or royalty Parliament – e.g. Government, Royal, Queen, Prince
Displaying and disclosing your chosen name
Every business must display its business name – and other details – to inform customers and suppliers who they are dealing with. You should not print your stationery until you’re certain your proposed name is acceptable.
- Limited companies and limited liability partnerships (LLPs) must wait until registration is complete and a Certificate of Incorporation has been issued.
- A sole trader or partnership must obtain prior approval to use a sensitive word in their proposed business name.
- You must display a sign with your company or LLP name:
- in characters that can be easily read
- in a place where visitors can easily and clearly see it at any time and not just during business hours continuously
- You must also include your company’s or LLP’s registered name on all hard copy and electronic business correspondence including:
- letters, notices and other official publications
- bills of exchange, promissory notes, endorsements and order forms
- cheques signed by or on behalf of the company
- orders for money, goods or services signed by or on behalf of the company
- bills of parcels, invoices and other demands for payment, receipts and letters of credit
- your website – you do not need to include the company name on every page but it must be displayed so it can be easily read
- You do not have to state directors’ names on business letters unless you want to do so. However, if you do decide to include directors’ names, then you must state all the directors’ names.
- If you are an LLP with more than 20 members, you don’t need to display the members’ names. However, you must keep a list of members at your principal place of business and state that the list is available for inspection.
Displaying a name online
If your business has a website, you must display:
general information about your business – including business name, address, email address, VAT registration number (if applicable)
details of any relevant professional body that you belong to or any authorization scheme to which your service is subject
Be careful if your business is selling overseas since your business name may not go down so well in translation if you’re not careful! Check and make sure it does not translate into anything offensive.
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