How to start your own business
Founding a company is a major commitment. We've put together a checklist to help you get started.
7 min read
Starting your own business is the ultimate career goal for many—you can build something from scratch under your own terms.
So, if you’re keen to take the plunge, read our useful tips on the real costs of starting your own business and be set to work to your own rules.
Whether you’ve got a great business idea, want to go freelance, or you want to sell your homemade crafts online—starting a business is an ambition for many of us. And while businesses come in many different forms, setting up any business should always involve some key steps. Read our guide to find out how to start to start your own business and the costs involved to help you budget for it.
Start your own business: Turn the daily grind into daily gold
Starting your own company means turning your pipe dream into a viable business, so you need to trust that it is a chance worth taking. Before you investigate how to start your own business, take the time to decide if your dream could be your reality.
Refine the business vision
Arm yourself with the details—your product, your target customer and who the other brand leaders are already in your market space. Compare your offering to your competitors and find your unique selling point (USP) to give you an advantage in your field. Understand what rates you could reasonably charge, and compare this to your current earnings to ensure you can meet your current financial obligations.
Create a business plan
What is a business plan, anyway? This is the foundation on which your business is structured, and your sales pitch if you need to secure extra investment. Ask yourself:
- What are my objectives?
- What strategy do I intend to follow to meet my objectives?
- How will I finance my business, both initially and in future?
Once you’ve defined the answers, these can guide your business decisions moving forward. Understanding your finance requirements is important and should be a top priority ahead of starting your own business, as you may require funding before you get off the ground.
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Get your business finances in check
If your business plan includes gaining investment or borrowing money from the bank (or family and friends), start making appointments to find out how much equity could be on offer to you. Presenting earnings forecasts can help your case, but make sure not to take on too much debt at the start of your journey when your initial earnings are still unclear. If you go to the bank of mom and dad, make sure you create a written agreement. This way the arrangement is clear, and repayments are regular.
Finesse the business name and branding
You know what you’re selling and who to, so make sure your name and logo becomes synonymous with that. Both should be easily identifiable, attractive, and memorable. Often less is more because you’ll be easier to identify; test your name with family and friends, and you could always recruit a graphic designer to create a unique logo—typically around €300 a day. Once you’ve determined your business name, make sure to check it against company registers to make sure it’s unique. If not, you might need to go back to the drawing board or settle for a slight variation.
Once you’ve got a handle on the above, you’ll be armed with a unique proposition and a clear understanding of your business goals and finances. If you’re starting your business in a new industry or changing roles, see our guide to changing your career.
How to set up your own business
So, your mind is made up, and those embossed business cards are on order. Don’t rush in though—there are many financial and legal considerations when deciding to go it alone. Here’s our step-by-step guide to the serious side of how to start your own business:
- Open a business account: A business account keeps your personal outgoings separate from your company costs and earnings. This will help when handling your business accounting, as it’s all in one place. N26 offers a comprehensive free business account.
- Registration, licenses, and taxes: Make sure you register with the government, understand what taxes you’ll need to pay and apply for licensing permits if required. Remember to purchase insurance and trademark your product. This all ensures you’re legally compliant and protects you should anything go wrong. The cost of registering a company varies across Europe: - France: €100 - Germany: €1,000 - Spain: €550 - Italy: €260
- Finding those funds: Your business plan will help you outline the capital needed, including what you’ll personally put in and if you need outside investment. Assess your estimated revenue and over-estimate your capital requirements, so you always have spare funds to rely on. Remember, that whilst you’re relatively unknown your earnings will most likely be lower.
- Pal up or go it alone: whether it’s a small niche company or larger operation, decide if you’ll be covering the full workload or if you’ll need a supporting team. If you need a small team, you’ll need to be able to cover their salaries whilst earnings might be low.
- Operation location: where you work from is one of the most important decisions to finalise, could you work from home, or would you prefer to rent a space? Depending on your trade, some businesses will need office space, a studio or even a warehouse. and these costs can be pretty big. Shop around and remember your first office doesn’t need to be your forever office.
How to start your own business online
In today’s world and the current climate, more and more people are turning to the internet to find goods and services than ever before. Starting your business online can be straightforward and speedy, but you can also get lost in cyberspace. Read on for our tips and pointers on how start your own business online:
- Build your website: Without a physical space for customers to view your product or meet you in person, you’ll need to create a website that’s easy to navigate, explains your services clearly, and uses search engine optimization to drive traffic to your site. You can use website builder sites, like GoDaddy, to create an affordable website using a pre-set template. Alternatively, you can recruit a website development team to create a bespoke website, but this is very costly. Content is key, so make sure you create engaging content on your website, for example posting a weekly blog. You can also hire a copywriter for around €250 a day.
- Online marketing: Boost interest and buzz around yourself with a marketing plan; opt-in emails and posts on social media are a great way to get your name out there. Other good tips include collaborating with established brands, partnering with charities or volunteering your time and products for free (initially!) ahead of your launch.
- Add your portfolio: if you’re offering creative services, it’s important for potential clients to see examples of work you have created previously. You could share graphic designs, articles you’ve written or paintings you have previously sold. Without examples, the client will not be able to understand your offering online.
- Set up analytics: using analytics services for your website or social media will allow you to understand how many visits you are receiving, how these users are behaving once on your site and which pages they are most likely to exit from. This information is really valuable, as it allows you to make changes to your site or social media activity to create a better user experience.
Your money at N26
Starting a business can sound like a complex challenge, but by following our guide you’ll be up and running in no time And while it may seem like you’re taking on a lot of financial responsibility, it doesn’t need to be too stressful. The N26 Business Standard account gives you a free business account with 24/7 chat support and Deposit protection, up to €100,000, from the German Deposit Protection Scheme to protect your earnings.
Knowing that your income is secure, you can focus on paying your business bills with free payments worldwide, in any currency. And if that’s not enough, you’ll receive 0.1% cashback on all transactions.
What questions should I ask myself when starting a business?
Ask yourself these 5 questions:
- How will I finance my business?
- What product or service are you delivering?
- Who are the audience you’re selling to?
- Who are your competitors?
- What is the long-term purpose and end goal?
What do I need to start a business?
To start a successful business, you’ll need a unique product or service, and a plan for how to deliver it. Begin by conducting market research on competitors and speak with potential customers, refine your product or service, create a business plan, choose your name and logo, and pick your working location.
How to start your own business?
Once you’ve refined your product or service offering so that you’re able to pitch against competitors, make a start by opening a business account, registering your brand, and applying for licenses. Purchase insurance, decide on what funds will be needed to finance your business, and make necessary appointments with banks, if required.
How to start your own business online?
Design and build a website that’s easy to navigate and use search engine optimizations, such as keywords relevant to your business, to drive traffic to your site. Make sure your copy on site is engaging and informative. Once you’ve established a name for yourself with the product and service you provide, follow up with opt-in emails.
Can you start a business by yourself?
If you organize yourself in advance and put in the necessary preparations, with a well-thought out business plan and a solid business idea anyone can start a business on their own.
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