Small Business Essentials

Your Bank Account

You’re going to need a bank account for your business to keep things separate and allow you to book keep more easily than if your business account is also your personal account. I had a good look around when starting up and found that the best deals are usually online based versions of the business bank accounts from the major banks. I went with HSBC online business account.

Online accounts general come with lower costs. I think the HSBC account came with free banking and very good rates for additional services. Something to note, business bank accounts will cost you more than your personal bank account. There is often a standing monthly fee and then additional fees for things like a few pence on each cheque, a percentage on cash paid in.

Telephones

Lots of small businesses use their mobiles as the main contact number. In some cases, this can be a good thing with respect to customer perceptions because it conveys a small business image and some people like this. For other businesses, you want to look more professional and so you might want to consider getting a 0845 number or setting up a divert from a landline to your mobile. I use a company called Gradwell who provide an internet-based telephone service. This doesn’t mean you have to use your computer to make calls; we plug special internet phones directly into the internet socket. Generally, this type of service is cheaper, but the main advantage for us is that we have set up, through their website, a system whereby when a client calls our 0845 number, multiple phones at different locations will ring at the same time, this includes mobiles.

Your Web Site

It’s pretty essential these days to have a website for your business. People like to research more about your business nowadays before calling. I would strongly recommend not getting a mate to do it for you, it’s definitely cheaper and people can tell.

Internet

The internet is also a must these days, staying in contact with your clients, finding suppliers etc. There are three main methods these days. ADSL (through your existing telephone line), Cable (though Virgin Media) and mobile (using a USB dongle). The most reliable and future proof is the cable. The network has been built for the internet where as BT’s network mostly has been adapted for the use. You can also get higher speeds on Virgin. Mobile broadband is great if you need the internet on the road, however, coverage can be sketchy and speeds are still pretty slow.

Promotion

I’ve talked about getting a website but you also need to get your name out there in other ways. Most basic thing is to make sure that things like your web address are on your business cards and letterheads. Yell.com can be a good to get your business details out there and will normally cost around £20 pounds a month depending on what kind of advert you go for. Yellow Pages can be good and bad nowadays. More people are looking online but still, a good few are using the printed book- think about your demographic.

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