Business Essentials

First Steps to Starting a Business

Each business is different so there is not one path for all but we have put together a set of steps that cover the areas you will need to think about before starting your journey. 

Step 1:  Research

You may have woken up with the idea of the next unicorn business* or been sitting on a business idea that you just haven’t had the time to start, whichever it is the first step is research.  It is possibly the most important of all the steps, you should take the time to look at all the aspects of the business and it is key to ask yourself the tough questions below.

  • Who is your market?
  • Who will be your competitors?
  • Where will your business fit into the market?

If you feel your business is viable it could be a good idea to perform some market research and ask a group of people if they would want to buy your product or service(s) to be able to gauge the market. 

* 'A unicorn is a term used in the venture capital industry to describe a privately held startup company with a value of over $1 billion.’  says James Chen in an article for Investopedia.

Step 2:  Make a Plan

The next step is to get your business idea out of your head and onto paper!  A great tool for making sure you have covered everything is the Strategyzer Business Model Canvas which can be found hereHaving your business idea on one side of paper can help you to convey your idea easily in those first business meetings, be it with a friend, bank, future customer or mentor.  We teach you how to use the Business Model Canvas in our Business Bootcamps - find out more here.

If you are then looking to gain investment, then it might be best that you write a more formal business plan.  Take a look at our Business Planning Guide for more help:

Business Planning Guide

Step 3:  Run the numbers

After your research and plan you should have an idea about your potential market, income streams and high level costings.  The next stage is to dive deep into the numbers and really drill down into the estimated costs that it will take to get the business up and running.  Ask yourself the questions like:

  • What does the space cost to rent?
  • How much will it cost to get the first batch of stock?
  • What are my personal overheads?

A good tool to help you with this process is cash flow sheetThis tool helps you map out your cash flow, which is arguably the most important important thing when it comes to running a business, as if you have more going out than you have coming in for an extended period of time you may need to rethink your business model.  We have a couple of articles to help you with this:

Managing your Accounts & Finances     Cash Flow Management

Step 4:  Decide on a structure

It is highly unlikely that you will have a business idea one week and hand in your notice to your job on the following Monday to start your new venture.  Most people will start a business on the side and grow it until it is secure and profitable enough to enable them to run it full time. 

When starting you have two main options either to run as a sole trader or to incorporate as a limited company, more information on these two and process can be found in the link below.

Registering your Business

Step 5:  Pick a name…  And protect it

Your business name is important so make sure you pick a good one and one currently not in use by someone else!

Once you have decided on a name you will need to check to see if it is trademarked or currently in use, then you will need to register it.  Where you need to register your business name will change depending on which structure you choose, but for most businesses you will need to register the following:

  • Trademark to protect your name from others using it
  • Domain name for your website 
  • Social media channels for your marketing

Find out more about Intellectual Property for small businesses here: 

IP for Small Businesses

Step 6:  Permits and insurance

In almost every case a business will need some kind of permit and insurance before you start trading.  This will entirely depend on your business idea and area if you cannot find information for your area it is best to contact Guernsey Trading Standards who will be able to advise.

Top Tips for Business Insurance

Step 7:  Systems, IT and data

No one starts a business with the dream of staying up late, surrounded by mass amounts of admin and paper so luckily whether its, accounting, scheduling or sales there are computer systems and technological solutions to make running a business area.  Many of these solutions offer a number of features for free so make sure you research options available and find something that suits you.

No matter what business you run, you will use some kind of data.  You may have heard of the term GDPR used but don’t worry it is not as scary as it sounds.  You can find out more about data protection on the advice, guidance and resources page of The Office of the Data Protection Authority Guernsey. 

Data Protection Authority

Choosing the right tech for your business

Data & security

Step 8: Choose your location

Location is key no matter what business area your idea is in, whether it is a home office, co-working space, private office or retail unit make sure you pick the one that suits you.  You will need to think about the amount of space, equipment and setup you will need to start running your business.

Step 9: Assemble your team

Decide if you can do this on your own or if you will need a team, if you need to hire employees make sure you take the time to map out what positions you will need

If you do not intend to hire anyone but are looking to outsource areas to contractors, make sure you are clear on what your requirements are.  Before approaching people you may want to seek legal advice.

The last part of your team is the most important part, your support structure, i.e.  the ones who are going to listen to you and give you advice, motivation and reassurance for when it gets tough.  This may consist of a mentor, business coach or members of your family.

Building your team

Step 10: Get out there and promote your business

The first stage to attracting your first client or customer is promotion. You will need to think about branding,  marketing and creating assets such as a website, business cards, etc.  Depending on your business and your target customers your promotional plans will look rather different. 

More information about brand and marketing can be found here:

Building your Brand 

Top Tips for Start-Up Marketing & PR

Another key step at this stage could be to promote yourself, there are many different networking groups in Guernsey, read our about local network here:

Growing your Network

Where to go for more help?

Carry on exploring the Business Essentials section of our website for more articles and podcasts.

Visit our calendar for events and activities to get involved with. 

Check out our support programmes for business bootcamps, mentoring and opportunities to upskill.

Or if you would like to speak to someone from the Digital Greenhouse team, please fill in the enquiry form below or email

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