Advice on how to start a business from scratch
Advice on how to start a business from scratch
When you are starting from scratch there are five broad areas to consider:
- · Setting up your business
- · Getting a business loan
- · Advertising
- · Premises/materials
- · Budget
Nb! - This article is written with United Kingdom business regulations in mind, however there are numerous tips and advice which are the same on a global level. The example of business being set up is a chiropractic clinic.
1. Setting up your business
You need to decide upon the best format for your company. There are four options:
This is the simplest and quickest way to start a business as there are no registration feels and record keeping and accounting is fairly straightforward. There is the advantage too of being your own boss.
This is a traditional arrangement between one or more partners who share the liability for the assets of the company.
Limited Liability Partnership
New or existing firms of two or more people can incorporate as a Limited Liability Partnership, which acts as a separate legal entity. Although this entity is liable for the full extent of its assets, the liability of individual partners is limited.
A company in which the liability of the members is limited to what they have invested or guaranteed to the company. It can be therefore be limited by shares or by guarantee.
Choosing a name
You also need to choose a name for your company. This is one of the first decisions you need to make, and it’s an important one! Anyone who starts a new business has often invested a lot of time, effort and money into the project. A business that has a good name has often spent of a lot of time developing and registering that name, and naturally does not want the name copied. Under civil law, an established business can pursue any new firm that does copy its name (called'passing-off'), whether deliberately or through ignorance. Once you have established your business it is up to you to ascertain that the name you have chosen is not copied by someone else. It is easier the more unique your name is. For example, ‘Chiro-chris-awesome’ as a clinic name is easier to defend as your own than “Bournemouth Chiropractic Clinic”.
Every new enterprise, therefore, must be certain that it is not copying any other company’s name. There are over 10 million UK trading names, companies, brands, domains etc., with another 25,000 formed each month. So a new business must carry out very careful and comprehensive checks of names and databases to ensure they choose an individual name. It is possible to do this via the Companies House website http://www.companieshouse.gov.uk or via http://www.start.biz/business_names/search.php
Something else to remember is that there are restricted words and expressions that you cannot use when registering your firm. It is unlawful to use such words as ‘International’, ‘English’, ‘Group’, ‘Sheffield’, ‘Trust’, ‘Breed’, ‘Fund’, ‘Royal’. These, and others, require direct permission from the Secretary of State or from other institutions. Failure to seek permission for using such terms may lead to a fine of £1,000 following daily fines of up to £100.
One way of protecting yourself when starting a new business is via membership of The National Business Register. Established in 1985 it is a unique, national, private-sector business service which now protects thousands of businesses. Members get a range of vital benefits including:
- · A comprehensive check of current business names
- · The register guarantee. “If the name is accepted by us it will meet all statutory requirements"
- · Formal statutory permission. If a name includes a restricted word or expression, they will obtain permission for its use or recommend a suitable alternative
- · Protection against ‘passing-off’. The Register will pay all costs of litigation to protect your business name
- · Free unlimited legal and tax advice
- · An assurance of uniqueness. Once a business name is registered with them, no other business will be accepted or registered by them under that name within your market area
- · A certificate of registration, issued with every registration. When displayed, this will meet the display requirements of the Business Names Act 1985
- · Information update. Changes in UK/EU legislation and other matters affecting business names and ownership are communicated through the National Business Register newsletter
Incorporating your company
Incorporation (registration) of your company can be carried out directly through Companies House by completing three documents:
1. Form IN01 – Application to Register a Company
2. Memorandum of Association
3. Articles of Association
There is a small fee, currently £20, to do this.
Alternatively a lot of companies use a formation agent to register their company.
Clients, customers or suppliers of a business have a right in law to know who is running business, and the Business Names Act 1985 requires every company to print this information on all its invoices, orders, receipts and letterheads and to display the required information prominently at all its business premises. Depending on the format of your company, you have to include certain information on all business stationery:
As a sole trader operating under your own name, you should include your name and address on all business stationery. However, if you choose something other than your own name for the business, you must include your own name and the business address on all business letters, orders and receipts.
Partnerships must state on letters, orders, invoices and receipts the names of all partners and the address of the principal office or alternatively indicate where a list of partners may be inspected.
Limited companies must show on letters and order forms the name of the company, the place of registration, the company registration number, the address of the registered office and the address of its place of business, if different. There is no need to list the names of the company directors, but if you choose to include them, you must list the names of all directors.
2. Getting a Business Loan
A quick search on the Internet reveals several banks in the UK that currently support chiropractors starting from scratch with business loans. The theme that each bank has in common is that they require research into the area you are setting up in, a business plan and what type of patients you will be seeing. Santander UK is one of these banks offering loans to chiropractors. In order to get a loan from Santander UK, they require a number of pieces of information, so it all has to be well planned. You will have to provide the bank with what type of payments you are to receive, what type of chiropractor you are, if you are treating patients from the NHS or on a strictly private basis, and an estimate of your expected turnover for the next 12 months.
So, getting a loan seems fairly straightforward as long as you have done some research and you provide a good ‘pitch’.
Most chiropractic clinics in the UK advertise in the yellow pages on the Internet, mostly because it is cheap and we are living in a digital age. Google is also increasingly becoming a very popular way of advertising. If you ‘Google’ chiropractic and Bournemouth you will get a list of results and in most cases the one paying the most will have their clinic on top of the search. Many chiropractors do not advertise other than within their local community. Obviously, if you are good, and living in a small community, the need of advertising decreases. This is one the things you have to consider when setting up a new practice.
Many clinics also have their own web pages where you as a patient can book in online without having to call the clinic. There is a growing tendency to do this all over the UK.
There are a number of decisions to be made when setting up your practice, including:
- Do you want to buy or rent?
- Space, layout, décor, educational materials, office equipment and treatment equipment.
- Is there space for a reception area?
- A receptionist needs a desk/computer, office chair, telephone and printer
- Are you planning to install x-ray equipment?
The office layout is an important aspect as it is the first impression of you and your clinic. The design should look, feel, and conform to your patient’s needs and tastes, as well as yours. From here on out it really depends how handy and creative you are. This phase does not have to be very costly (depending if you need an interior designer or not) if you can do some thinking of your own.
When you start from scratch, you can buy the exact equipment you like, in the colours you like and the size you like, but you will typically pay full price with no initial income. It is advisable to start from day one with paperless electronic health records, and having a system with which you are comfortable is a very important factor.
Uniforms are often used by the receptionist and yourself in order to look smart and professional, but these do not have to be expensive. An office desk is compulsory in order to be taken seriously. To begin with, it does not have to be an antique desk setting you back several thousand pounds. IKEA sells smart, good looking desks for a couple of hundred pounds. Then there is the matter of buying a bench, should you buy a new one or a used? A used one will set you back anywhere from £500-£6,000 whereas a new one can cost up to £10,000 including freight. General equipment is needed in the treatment room such as activator, alcoholic rub, sheets of paper etc. It all adds up to become a fairly big expense.
Below is an example of a starting from scratch budget using retail prices as of today. The budget does not include monthly payments such as salary for a receptionist and other generals.
Description | Price (£)
Property / office | 100000
Re-decoration | 3000
Reception | 2000
Chiropractic bench | 4000
General equipment | 1000
Office desk | 300
Office computer | 800
Digital record keeping | 450
Other costs | 1000
Total costs | 112550
King, M.A. King, S.W. Buying an Existing Practice Versus Starting One From Scratch. Available at: http://www.dynamicchiropractic.ca/mpacms/dc/article.php?t=38&id=53528&no_paginate=true&p_friendly=true&no_b=true
Whitney, J. Scratch-Startup. Available at: http://www.chiro.org/newDCs/ScratchStartup.html
Design and print your own business stationery. Available at: http://www.businesslink.gov.uk/bdotg/action/detail?itemId=1074300624&type=RESOURCES.
Hickey, J. 2004. First office? Dream big, but invest small to get started Available at: http://www.chiroeco.com/article/2004/issue9/9office.php.
Industry Sector: Chiropractor. Available at: https://www.alliance-leicestercommercialbank.co.uk/bizguides/full/chiropractor/index.asp
Starting a new company. Available at: http://www.companieshouse.gov.uk/infoAndGuide/companyRegistration.shtml.
Protecting your business name. Available at:
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