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5 things I wish I knew when I started my first business

When I started my first business 10 years ago, I wish I knew these 5 things:

  1. Registering a business as a company instead of a sole trader – Whilst it cost more to register your business as a company rather than a sole trader, it has the following benefits;
    1. Saves tax – Companies have a 26.5% tax rate.
    2. Reduced Risk – Registering your business as a company reduces your risk. You are not personally liable for any company debt, bankruptcy or if the company is sued. The bank cannot take your house or car and your personal record stays intact.
  2. Using cloud accounting software – When I started my first business, I couldn’t afford to hire or outsource bookkeeping. Moving from excel spreadsheets to cloud accounting software not only saved a lot of time but forced me into good bookkeeping habits as well which is an essential part of running a business. I use Wave which is similar to Xero but completely free. I do all my quoting, invoicing and bookkeeping through Wave. Just don’t sign up for their ‘accept payment by credit card option’ unless you need that form or payment. They use Stripe payments for this which charges a percentage fee per transaction.
  3. Creating a brand – Hire a marketer to create a brand for your business and develop a style guide. You can then refer back to the style guide as your business grows to ensure brand continuity. A strong brand is essential to differentiate yourself in the market and grow your customer base.
  4. Taking control of Google My Business – If you’re going to do any marketing at all, Google My Business is where you should begin. Add and verify your business and complete Google’s recommended tasks. Get to know Google My Business very well and take advantage of all it has to offer. This will be the most effective online marketing that you can do for the least amount of effort and it will cost you nothing but your time.
  5. Building your own website – Building, hosting and maintaining a website can be very costly and all-consuming. I highly recommend using a ‘do it your self platform’ that takes care of hosting, gives you complete control over your website and makes website building child’s play. Use a platform like Wix or Squarespace and your website worries will be history.
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