[Continued from 10 Questions To Answer Before You Start A Business]
11. What physical premises does the business need?
Some businesses, such as retail shops, will be strongly identified with their premises. Others - such as a machine tool fabricator - will need specialised premises capable of handling their operations. What will your business need? Where are you likely to find the right business premises, and how much are they likely to cost?
12. What will be the up-front costs of securing business premises?
Landlords often require deposits and there may be a variety of fees. You will want to take these into account in budgeting for start-up costs.
13. What health and safety regulations will affect the business?
Virtually all businesses are affected by health and safety regulations to some extent. Labour-intensive businesses, and particularly those involving physical labour, will likely present a range of health and safety issues and may be subject to regulation compliance inspections. You will need to determine how you will ensure compliance, and how much it will cost the business to do so.
14. Will supplier relationships be crucial to the business?
Before, during, and after you start a business, supplier relationships can be critical for several reasons. For instance, if you're planning to use a particular software package in a way that is central to the operation of the business, you will want to ensure that the supplier will stand behind the product and provide adequate support. In manufacturing businesses, the price and credit terms for raw materials may make the difference between a reasonable profit margin for your business and a loss.
15. How many employees will the business need during the start-up phase?
A new hire is a major commitment. Will you need to have lots of employees up front, or will you be able to take on employees in stages? What is the business' financial exposure at each stage? When will revenue begin to be sufficient to cover payroll?
16. How will the business handle PAYE and other employee-related compliance?
PAYE, pay cheques, direct deposit, etc., are potentially tedious and time-consuming tasks. Does the business have the capacity to take them on, or do you need to out-source?
17. What insurance does the business need?
If you have employees, you will be required to carry employer's liability insurance. What other insurance coverage is necessary or desirable for your business? What are the relevant industry norms? Do you have a good understanding of these issues, or do you need to consult an insurance broker as part of your planning process?
18. If the business will have intellectual property that requires protection, how will it go about putting that protection in place?
Protection for intellectual property can be a relatively simple matter (in the case of some copyrights, for example) or it can be a difficult and expensive undertaking (if, say, you want to obtain worldwide patent protection for a new product). To what extent is intellectual property a key feature of your business and how will you go about protecting it? Remember too, that if you're starting, say, a technology business in the hope of securing venture capital financing some day, you will need to be thinking about protecting your intellectual property from the very beginning.
19. Does the business need to register for VAT?
If turnover is likely to be above the VAT threshold you will have to register - at least eventually. In addition, it may be sensible for the business to register even if its turnover is not likely to exceed the VAT threshold if it sells lots of zero-rated or reduced rate goods and services.
20. How will I, as owner/manager, get paid?
For a sole trader this may be an easy question, but if your business structure is going to be a company you will want to give it some thought, since you have alternatives (salary, dividends, repayment of loan capital, etc.).
** Additional Help and Advice **
If you need legal help starting a business, you can find a solicitor specialising in commercial law in your area for free via solicitor matching services, which can also help you to understand the best course of action for your situation and whether you are even ready to hire a solicitor.