Running a business is a dream for many of us. Whether you’re a crafter, have the knowledge and know-how to offer a technical service or have a product idea that you know will sell, there are so many options out there for those with that entrepreneurial spirit. In 2020, we saw a rise in start-ups by 30% compared to 2019 and an incredible 770,000 new businesses launched. But how do you know if you’re ready to actually take that first step towards setting up your start-up? We’ve created a checklist to compare yourself against to determine if it’s time, or if there’s still more that can be done to prepare yourself. Do you have the funds? It’s no secret that you need to have the money to invest in your business straight away. You’ll hear stories of people starting businesses with just a couple hundred pounds in their pocket but on average, UK startups need around £5,000 to launch and will spend a further £22,756 in their first year. With this in mind, do you have the backing or the funds in the bank to cover these expected costs? If not, you may struggle to get your start-up off the ground and make that all-important profit. Is the product or service ready? It’s easy to get excited about your business venture but first, you need to ensure that what you’re offering is ready for those who want to buy. Some businesses do start with a pre-order system that can generate the income needed to create products and get orders ready for a certain date. There are a range of platforms that can help with a pre-order strategy from Kickstarter to options in Shopify. Pre-order marketing allows you to work out how much interest there is in your product, and you can even offer rewards for those who sign up early or donate more money. Not only this, but a pre-order launch can help you understand your audience and visualise who your product or service resonates with the most. Do you know who you’re selling to? Research is integral and customer research is vital for a start-up. You need to understand who is likely to buy from you and in turn market your brand and business to them. One key question to ask during this process is: ‘does your product or service solve a problem?’ These are the businesses that will typically do well. If you can offer something people need or that finds a solution to a common issue, you’re likely to get more recognition and recommendations. Creating buyer personas can be a great way to solve this question, as you can determine what is important to your target audience and fill in the gaps to provide that essential product or service. Do you have a dedicated business premise? Sure, some businesses start in their garage or from their childhood bedroom but if you want to be taken seriously, a dedicated business premise is a good idea. This is ideal if you’re having important meetings with stakeholders or potential clients – no one wants to sit on a rickety chair in your office to discuss plans. Many start-ups begin in shared office spaces, renting hot desks, or creating these spaces in outbuildings on their property. Do your best to look professional from the start to generate the right interest. Remember that first impressions stick throughout your business relationships so make it a good one! Do you have a business and marketing plan in place? No business owner wants to fly by the seat of their pants and so it’s important you carefully lay out your business plans and how you intend to market yourself right at the start. You should have a clear idea of how you want to measure your success as well as what message you want to convey to customers and the local community in your marketing and branding. Setting yourself goals and milestones can be a great way of measuring success on both a personal and professional level. It’s important to remember your personal growth is just as important as your start-up; after all your business can only grow if you continue to learn and develop as a new entrepreneur. You can find templates and guidance online that can help you get started when pulling these plans together and you’ll discover that they’re particularly important if you’re applying for funding or investment. The bottom-line is, the more organized you can get yourself and your venture prior to launch, the less likely you’ll be prone to those sneaky surprises along the way. Check in with these considerations to work out if you’re ready to set out with that start-up or if you need a little more time to iron out those finer details.