Small Business Series Part Three: Research, Research, and More Research!

Welcome to part three in the Bethanie’s Place small business series! If you’ve been keeping up with this series you’ll know it’s not exactly gone to plan, but I’m excited to get back into it.

This week we’re looking at the first steps every small business start up should be doing, and the things that you might need to do depending on what kind of business you’re looking at. I’ll be brief as this part really is up to you! This will set us up nicely for part four, in which we will look at names, branding, and looking to growing a strong social media following – the fun stuff. If you missed part one or part two about figuring out what it is that you want to do and accepting that we as small business owners can only do so much, go check them out and then pop back here whenever you’re ready.

Without further ado, let’s get into it!

1. Market Research

Research is key for any business. We’ve decided what it is we’d like to do for our small business, but now the real work starts, and research is vital to this. Google and social media sites will be our starting points, we need to find people who are doing what we want to do, or the closest to that we can find. From these people and businesses we need to get an idea of pricing, how they organise themselves, who their customer base or audience are, and look to find their strengths and also any weaknesses. Another great thing to do are polls and questionnaires, send them out to friends and family on your personal social media, and if you have set up business social media already or social media related to your chosen craft pop them up there to get a feel for what the people you’ll be advertising to at first would like to see.

Now, what this research isn’t, is grounds for you to find something that someone else is doing and copy it. Market research allows you to see what potential customers are looking for, how other people are approaching those customers, and to use this information to find your place as a small business and to guide you on your unique journey. Market research allows us as small business owners to ensure that we’re not jumping in blind. If you find yourself copying someone else’s small business you’re likely to not get all that far, and you probably won’t feel great about yourself or what you’re making.

2. More Research, Legalities and Tax

For this section please remember that I am speaking from personal experience as a small business owner in the UK, and as the heading says, research! When starting a business it’s important to do the research in regards to the law and any regulations that are in place for your chosen business. If like me you’re making art prints and stickers, there’s not all that much to worry about. I’d advise looking into business insurance if you’ll be sending physical products out to customers as you never know, but this will be especially important for makers and sellers of products that carry a higher risk, such as candles or anything with pieces that could fall off or that are sharp.

An important thing to look into are the regulations behind your products, here in the UK there are strict rules for certain products, so make sure to look into whether what you’re making requires testing or any extra processes before you sell. Please be aware that if you’re selling health and beauty products or products marketed towards young children or babies these will definitely require some form of testing, and there may be other steps involved. Anything that is to be consumed will also require certain extra steps, such as your place of work requiring a food hygiene inspection and rating. You may also be required to take part in training to maintain certificates in things such as health and safety, so make sure to look into this before selling.

Now, when it comes to tax this will be down to where in the world you are. If you’re outside of the UK it’s worth finding someone with speciality knowledge of how your tax system works. Here in the UK you only start paying taxes once you have made over £1000. After you have hit this you’ll have to complete a self assessment tax form for that tax year. The tax year runs from April to April, and your taxes need to be done before January the following year. I highly recommend heading over to look at the government’s guidance and rules on this, and if you feel uncomfortable doing taxes yourself then you can always look into finding an accountant.

It all simply comes down to being sensible, taking your time, and asking questions if you need help. Research takes time, and if you’re serious about running a small business and getting your products out to consumers then you have to invest time and potentially money into getting your research done. Don’t worry, when this part is done, and it shouldn’t take too long if you dive in and commit, you’ll get to move onto the fun stuff.

Speaking of which, we’ll be moving onto the fun stuff over the next couple of instalments of the small business series, and I can’t wait to share my thoughts and experience with these different aspects of business. I’ll be dropping a post soon about why I’m getting rid of my personal social media accounts, and introducing a new series for the blog. In the meanwhile I hope everyone’s staying safe and enjoying life.

Thanks for reading, I’ll see you in the next one!

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