Now that you have a solid business idea in mind you’ll want to turn it into a start-up success story.
Here are some quick and simple steps to establish whether your idea could work and what you need to do to start up.
First things first
Here are some things to consider as you decide on whether or not to start a business.
To set up a business in Jersey you need to have the right residential qualifications. Your residential and employment status determines where you can work and live and there are 4 categories. Use the link below to check you have the qualifications you need to start a business in Jersey
If you are not living in Jersey you will need to set up your business as a Non-Resident. Use the link below to understand how you can do this.
Here are some questions to ask yourself before you start the business…
- Why do you want to start a business?
- Are you prepared for the possibility of failure?
- Can this business idea make you money now and in the future?
- Can you do this alone?
- Do you have the available time and commitment to focus on the business?
- Do you have a network of people with other skills that you can draw on?
- How can you maximise the social impact and minimise the environmental impact of your business?
Hobby businesses are often run from home and are usually based on semi-recreational activities near and dear to the owner, thus earning them the nickname “hobby businesses”. There are as many types of hobby businesses as there are hobbies but they are often a labour of love rather than a reliable source of income which is most often the case when the business owner has other means of financial support — such as a regular job or a working spouse — that effectively underwrites the microbusiness.
If you are working 8 hours or more per week on your hobby business then you will require a business license. Information about getting a business licence and the other things to consider are here running a business from home in Jersey
You need to make sure you can survive financially as you establish your business, so answer these questions…
- Do you have the funds to start this business, if not, where will the money come from? Have a look at this guide to help you think about the finance you might need accessing finance.
- What taxes do you have to pay? This link will tell you all about the taxes and social security you will have to pay Business taxes and Social Security
- What level of income do you need from the business? Fill in this personal survival budget to assess your finances.
Viability check – is there a market?
It’s always worth conducting market research to make sure that there are enough potential customers out there for your business to survive and grow. To do this, you will need to work out some rough numbers on your market size. Key questions to ask of your business:
How many customers do you need to be profitable?
For your product or service, you first need to work out roughly how many transactions you will need to make a profit, and how many customers you will need to generate those transactions. For example, for a cleaning business, maybe you need 100 cleaning jobs a month to be profitable, but if customers will be weekly, then you need a minimum of 25, and then a few more to allow for churn.
Are there enough potential customers?
Do a rough pen portrait of the type of customer who is likely to be interested in your offering, including elements like their work, age, gender and income. Then look at Statistics Jersey or go to the Jersey Library to get a feel for some numbers.
For example, if you are setting up a cleaning business, you’d check if it’s realistic to find enough customers who need and can afford a cleaner. Or, if you are creating a product or service for new born babies and you know you need to sell thousands before you are profitable, it is handy to know how many babies are born in Jersey each year. If, realistically you would only convert a small percentage of these, you might need to widen your market across the UK or internationally to be able to sell the volume you need to.
Does this market exist just now?
If you can easily identify direct competitors, then it will be obvious there is an existing market and you can undertake competitor analysis to identify how to stand out. Remember, if there are many competitors, then the market could be saturated, and you will need to stand out enough to encourage customers to switch to you instead.
Sense check – do people want your product or service?
If you’re confident you could have a market, it’s sensible to speak to potential customers to see if your offering could be a good fit and to get other ideas about how to sell it. It’s almost guaranteed that a few well planned conversations or surveys will give you fresh insights! You should cover the following areas:
- What do your customers actually want or need?
- Does your proposed product or service meet that need for them?
- If so, what are the features and benefits of your offering that they like the most and why?
- How do they want to buy? Online or in person? On certain days or times?
Before you start, make sure you can communicate your proposed offering in a concise way people can instantly understand (in other words an elevator pitch). This is never easy but always worth the effort.
Who to ask?
This is another hard step for many businesses, but push on – if you can’t find people to ask about your business, then you won’t be able to find people to buy from you!
- Ask friends and family, and ask them to put you in touch with anyone they know who fits your target audience.
- Post on all of your personal social media accounts asking for feedback.
If you ask in the right way, most people are flattered to be asked for their opinion so will often happily participate with no other incentive. You’ll often find that after 10 to 20 conversations you will have flushed out most of the insights you need to help you shape your offering.
How to ask
- Direct: If you have permission, then phone, private message or email contacts to ask them their opinion.
- Surveys: Survey Monkey or Google Forms, can be linked to from social platforms or in an email. Include some open ended questions (with room for comments) and these could help you gather insights and ideas you may not have thought to ask about.
- Social media polls: Facebook or Twitter polls work well if you are testing preferences for a couple of options – e.g. would customers prefer to collect their order or have it delivered, or would more people prefer the t-shirt design in blue or red.
Will customers actually buy your product or service?
Surveys are good but take survey responses with a pinch of salt. Speaking to people and carrying out surveys adds real value, however it can’t be completely relied on when making business decisions because people sometimes don’t actually do what they say they will do. So, you might also use insights gained from low-risk tests of the idea rather than heading straight to a launch.
The good news is that to test your business idea, you don’t need a stunning online shop listing hundreds of products, or to go to market with a whole suite of services. Instead, simplify and prioritise and use your research to narrow down a few things to test first, to help you focus. For example:
- Online shop. Start with a handful of the top products you think people will be most likely to buy. This gives you the opportunity to test some basic advertising, web design, fulfilment and delivery and see if there are any issues before increasing your product range or switching to something else.
- New product. Try a limited number of designs, sizes or versions initially, informed by your research.
- Services. If you are launching a new service, consider focusing on a small number of key services to start, and even consider taking on a small number of clients initially, to test your pricing against how long the job actually takes. If you are delivering online, there are many different platforms to use so shortlist them and test your delivery. For example, if you are delivering training courses, before creating a whole end-to-end series or selling tickets for a huge one-off event you can test the format with a short session for a small group. Similarly, if you are delivering in person, create one course to start with and test the market to see how people respond to the subject matter, the depth, the visuals. Once you have feedback on the first one, you can develop more courses to be in line with your findings.
Identify low cost options
Consider what you will need to spend money on to deliver your product or service and then see how you can find low cost solutions as you test and launch your business. Unless you really need to, resist committing to big, ongoing costs at the start and instead see how you can start small and then grow.
If you need premises or equipment that requires up-front financial commitments, get advice to make sure you are getting as much flexibility and value for money as possible.
Work out your likely cash-flow
As you start your business, you need to understand what money you will make and what you will need to spend each month. It’s important to do a Cashflow forecast so you can see what this pattern is likely to be and when you need the money to be available. Doing this will help you work out if your business will have enough income at the right time to allow you to pay your bills and to pay yourself too. If it the cashflow tells you that your business will run out of money you need to think if you have other sources of income or even whether you should start the business at all.
This checklist will help you check the viability of your business idea.
It’s important to check out the feasibility of your business at an early stage to make sure there is sufficient demand for your product or service at the price that you want to charge for it. Here are the key things you need to consider at this stage:
Research your market and potential customers so you know who will buy from you and can decide how you will sell your product or service to them. You need to be able to answer these questions to confirm there is a market for your product or service:
- What is the unique selling point for the business, why will someone buy from you?
- Who will buy your product or service? Do some market research to understand who your customers will be.
- Who will be your competitors? Undertake a competitor analysis to understand which businesses you will be competing with.
Once you’ve done your research and clearly identified your customers you should decide how will you market your business so people know about your product or service.
In order to sell your product or service you need to consider which route to market will be the best for your business. You might, for example, sell directly, online or through a wholesaler or you might need a combination of these. Each route will have different costs and practical implications that you will need to build into your marketing plan. Think about the Marketing and Communication Tools you can use to reach your target audience.
Here are some guides to help you:
Guide to writing a marketing plan
Develop a business plan to understand how you will put your idea into practice, thinking about what you need to do and in what order.
Planning will also help you to think about the practicalities of how you will operate – how, when, where and what you will need to establish and grow your business.
Download this business plan template to help you.
Create a realistic financial forecast so you know what your income will be and how much it will cost you to operate.
You will need to develop a realistic pricing strategy to help you decide how much to charge. Your prices need to reflect your product’s positioning in the market, cover the cost of production and give you a profit margin so there is a lot to consider.
If you need money to start your business, go out and start pitching for it now. There is some useful information on potential sources of investment on the accessing finance section of our website.
Talk to your bank about setting up a business bank account. Find out what they need from you and how long it will take so you can get one set up before you start to trade.
As well as having a bank account, you will need to know how to organise your finances. This will include cash management, budgets, payments and invoicing. Think now about using an online finance system like Quickbooks or Xero and consider using a bookkeeper to help you
If necessary, find appropriate premises to operate from and don’t over commit to them. Take a look at our property guide, designed to help small business owners find the right solutions to their property needs.
If you are running a business from home, this guide will tell you about the things you need to get in place to run a business from home in Jersey.
The advantages of trading abroad can be huge, boosting your business’s profile, credibility and bottom line as well as offering you access to new customers, revenue and ideas. Perhaps most importantly, selling to more than one market can help you spread your business risk and increase the lifecycle of your products or services.
If you think through the process of selling or working abroad and have a sound knowledge of your target markets, you will be able to understand the resources you need to start and the potential gains you could make from selling internationally.
The Export Service will help you advice on exporting.
This checklist will help you make a plan for your business.
Getting the formalities in place
In order to make your business official, you will need to get the formalities in place before you start to trade. This makes sure your business will trade legally, has the right agreements and licences in place and that you get taxed at the right rate. Here are the things you need to know about:
Speak to the Tax department about your intention to set up in business so you can agree how to pay your income tax. This page personal tax for business owners will help you understand the steps you need to take.
Speak to Social Security about your individual circumstances and how much social security contribution you will need to pay in your first years. This page will help you social security payments for business owners or self-employed.
Consider what legal structure would be most appropriate to start up your business and then understand what you need to do to set up your sole trader or partnership or a Limited Company properly so that you are legally able to operate.
The links above will give you information about:
- Applying for a business licences
- Registering with the JFSC
- Tax and social security
- Managing your finances & getting appropriate business insurance
- Registering with the Jersey Information Commissioner
A catering business is one which prepares food for sale and includes food businesses working from home, in a commercial kitchen, in a café, restaurant or accommodation as well as a mobile food unit. It is very important to get things right at the start as this will make it much easier for you to run the catering business in the future. These guides will let you know of the main things you need to consider
Starting a catering business in Jersey
Setting up as an accountant or bookkeeper will be the start of a new and exciting business offering a professional financial service to your clients. As well as the general business and financial planning that any business needs to consider when starting up, there are a number of specific requirements that you will need to satisfy in order to trade legally in Jersey. This guide will take you through the key requirements of establishing a new accountancy or bookkeeping business in Jersey:
Commercial gambling is defined in the law as a business which contracts directly with a customer and for profit. Various licences are required before you proceed with any form of lottery, gambling & entertainment that provides monetary prizes. This also includes social & charitable gambling activities that are conducted by charitable organisations, clubs, groups or societies that are based and run from Jersey.
The Jersey Gambling Commission is responsible for the regulation of land based and digital gambling in Jersey. The Commission will provide advice and guidance on the licences you will require to run a gambling business.
Specific licences and registrations are required for the following industries and these links will tell you what you need to do and who you need to contact.
- Animals, pets and livestock
- Cosmetic services
- Finance industry
- Fishing and aquaculture
- Food and drinks
- Gambling services
- Healthcare services
- Holiday accommodation
- Property sales and letting businesses
- Public events and entertainment
- Road works (including events on the road)
- Transport services
- Waste management
Talk to your bank about setting up a business bank account. Find out what they need from you and how long it will take so you can get one set up before you start to trade.
As well as having a bank account, you will need to know how to organise your finances. This will include cash management, budgets, payments and invoicing. Think now about using an online finance system like Quickbooks or Xero and consider using a bookkeeper to help you.
If you are taking money directly from customers you also need to decide on an till & stock management system and how to take credit card payments.
Register with the Office of the Information Commissioner if you will be holding personal data.
Every business needs some way to record its activities and manage the paperwork that is involved in buying and selling products or services. Some very small hobby businesses are simple enough to do all this on paper, however most businesses function much more effectively with some form of IT. From emails, social media and websites to accounts software, document storage and customer databases there is software, a platform or an app to help out and, let’s face it, using the right IT can make life a whole lot simpler and quicker. These guides will help you:
Systems that support your business
If you need them, recruit people with complimentary skills to yours and give them the training they need.
You will find templates and information about your obligations as an employer in our HR toolkit for small business and on the Jersey Advisory & Conciliation Service (JACS) website.
You should think about how you want people to work with you and if they will be in an office with you or working remotely. Have a look at our remote working toolkit to give you some idea of what this involves.
Business Insurance protects your business from damage, theft and other negative impacts that have the potential to harm your activities.
It is important to get the right level of insurance. The type and amount of insurance cover your business needs will depend on the risks your business is exposed to and several factors will influence this including, for example, your working environment, the type of product or service you offer, your geographical reach and the number of people you employ and how influential they are on your business.
This business insurance guide will help you understand the options.
This checklist will help you get the formalities right.