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How to Start a Small Business in the UK


Starting a business is exciting, but figuring out where to start can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re new to the whole entrepreneur thing. But if you’re constantly thinking about how to start a small business and are determined to be your own boss in 2024, we’ve got your back…

Fancy launching an online shop or opening a fancy new salon? We can already help with that if you click those links! But if you’re after ways to start from home with little to no money, then keep reading, as we’ve got plenty of ideas to spark that business brain of yours. 

In this article, I will cover:

  • The steps to take in opening a new business
  • In-demand businesses in the UK
  • Some common questions
  • How we can help you do it

Practical essentials for groundwork

Before you get started splashing out on new store signs, here are a few practical essentials to become a small business owner. 

Know your WHY: Get clear on what drives you. Want to solve a problem that bugs you? Do you love doing something and want to make money from it? This is your fuel when times get tough.

Do your homework: Who’s going to love what you do? What are your rivals up to? Don’t just go on a hunch – hard facts will keep you on track. There’s loads of help for this on the UK government website.

The dreaded plan: Yep, it’s time for the business plan thing. It doesn’t need to be perfect; get your ideas down on paper. Investors will want to see this too. So tap into templates online to get you started.

The official stuff: Get to know HMRC (the tax people), sort any licences or permits you need…the boring but essential stuff! Don’t be afraid to ask for help from an accountant if it gets confusing.

Money matters: How much will it actually cost to start? How much might you make? Get honest about those numbers so you aren’t panicking later.

What is the mindset for small business success?

Always be winning!

Starting a business is exhilarating and demanding. But if you keep learning and make the most of the support available, you can build something you’re genuinely proud of! Before we jump into the real stuff, here are a few other things to keep in mind…

  • Get ready to bounce back: Business ain’t always easy, and things WILL go wrong. Build that mental muscle to learn from mistakes and move on!
  • Don’t get stuck in a rut: If the market changes, you’ve got to change with it. Keep an eye on what customers say and what’s trending, and tweak your stuff to stay ahead of the game.
  • Let your passion shine: If you’re excited, customers will be too, so show them how much you believe in what you’re doing.
  • Find your cheerleaders: Build a crew of advisors and other business owners. Share the highs, talk about the lows – it’ll make a huge difference. There are loads of UK business networks out there, so why not connect?
  • Celebrate your wins: Starting a business is HARD. Every little step forward is worth celebrating – it’ll keep you motivated!

💡 The UK offers a supportive environment for entrepreneurs and startups, so take full advantage of government resources and funding opportunities to help you succeed.

How to start a small business in the UK – step-by-step

1 – Dream it up!

  • What gets you fired up, or what problems need fixing? What are you super good at? Think local, as sometimes, the best ideas are right under your nose.
  • Will it work? Do your research and be honest: does your idea match up with what people actually want or fill a gap? Plus, is there a way to make money from it?

2 – Know your market

  • Who’s your perfect customer? What’s their age, where do they hang out, and what do they struggle with? This shapes everything you do, from your product to where you advertise it.
  • Look up the competition to find out who else is out there. What are they good at, what could they do better, or how can you stand apart?

3 – The big business plan

  • Get your plan together. Pull together your vision, goals, how you’ll make money, and also how you’ll tell the world. This helps to attract investors, too.
  • Thorough research is key. Plus, these templates and tips on the UK government website are perfect for getting started.

How to a start a business and write a plan

4 – Make your business official

  • Pick your setup. Sole trader? Limited company? There is a lot to think about here, so be sure to ask for professional advice if you need it.
  • HMRC and legal time. Protect yourself by letting the tax office know you’re in business. Also, sort out any licences or permits specific to what you’re doing, like alcohol or waste removal.
  • Don’t wing it. Laws, rules… yawn. But this really matters, so it’s best to get it right now to save hassle later.

5 – Money, money, money

  • How much will this REALLY cost? Be honest about start-up costs and how much it’ll be to run the place, but leave yourself some wiggle room!
  • Cash flow is everything, so knowing how much comes in and when it goes out is essential. Fancy spreadsheets or accountancy software can help you here.

6 – Build a unique brand identity

  • Who are you? Your brand is how people see you. Decide on your vibe and keep it consistent.
  • Where’s your crowd? There’s no point in having a killer Instagram if your customers aren’t flocking in, so think about websites, local ads, networking events or targeting wherever they hang out.
  • Now, share your story. People buy from people, so let your passion shine through!

7 – It’s launch time!

  • Go big (or small). Make some noise about your launch with special offers and a bit of a fuss to get locals excited.
  • Be savvy with data. Keep track of how things are going, like sales and website visits. Furthermore, let the numbers guide you on what to improve.
  • Build valuable relationships. Treat your customers like gold, and go the extra mile for them. Plus, consider offering a rewards program or membership for the true gems.

Don’t miss this bit: Starting a business in the UK is full of rewards. There is loads of help out there, so ask if you need it. This guide is your starting point – now go and build something brilliant! 💪

How to start a small business checklist

☐ Find your fire. Ask yourself what makes you tick or why you’re doing this. Alternatively, write it down and stick it where you can see it for those days you need reminding.

☐ Know your crowd. Who’s going to love your stuff, or what problems do you solve for them? Get a crystal clear snapshot of your perfect customer.

☐ The plan-thing. Yep, it’s time to think about your business plan. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but you need to get your ideas on paper. Plus, the government website has loads of helpful stuff to get you started.

☐ Sole trader? Limited company? Time to decide which one to let HMRC know you’re in the game.

☐ Money, money, money. Start figuring out those start-up costs, like how much you might make and all that cash flow business. Being good with money equals less stress in your future!

☐ Find your USP. What makes your business different? Don’t be shy about sharing your journey, as people can connect with that.

☐ Make some noise! Where do your customers hang out? It’s time to plan a launch that’ll make them look twice. From websites and social media to old-school posters, it’s time to get creative.

☐ LAUNCH DAY 🎉 Invite friends, and tell everyone that you’re officially open for business!

☐ Learn and improve. Your business will constantly change. Keep track of how things are going, ask for feedback, and then tweak stuff as you need to. That’s the road to long-term success.

☐ Keep building a team. Find people who get what you’re doing, from mentors and advisors to other business owners. Share the highs and then moan about the lows – it makes a HUGE difference.


  • Break it down, one step at a time, as you’ll be amazed at how far that gets you.
  • You got this! You’re already solving problems by starting a business.
  • There’s loads of help out there if you need it.

You’re going to do amazing things, so go forth and build your dream business!


I want to start a business, but I have no ideas!

Start by writing down your passions and skills. What tasks would you gladly spend hours doing? Then, look for a problem that you or your friends and family struggle with, and think about whether there is a product or service that could solve it. Explore trends and emerging industries. Furthermore, where is there a growing demand to tap into?

How do I start a small business online?

There are lots of low-cost and service-based business models out there, like cleaning or creative design. Find your niche, then invest in a user-friendly, search-optimised website, even if it’s just a simple landing page. Plus, create profiles on sites like Upwork and Fiverr. Use relevant social media platforms to share content and connect with audiences to promote your business. Alternatively, if physical products are too bulky or costly, then consider dropshipping or selling digital products to remove overheads.

How can a teenager start a business?

Starting a business as a teenager can give you a headstart in life! So, if you’re thinking about it, then here are a few ways to get started.

  1. Choose a simple business idea: Think about things you’re good at or enjoy doing, like mowing the lawn, babysitting, or dog walking.
  2. Get your first clients: Tell your friends, family, and neighbours about your business to drum up interest.
  3. Learn as you go: Search for online courses and resources about business management and entrepreneurship, which can help you build a solid foundation.

How we can help

Budding UK businesses, it’s time to level up your payment game with Atoa! We’ve harnessed the power of the UK’s open banking system to make your life easier.

Here’s why:

  • Skip the card machines. Atoa lets customers pay directly from their bank accounts through QR codes or links. No need for expensive card readers or complicated setups, which is ideal for new businesses on a budget.
  • Scan, approve, done. For customers, it’s easy. No fiddling with cards or entering bank details, which is a massive win if you run a pop-up stall or take payments on the go.
  • Instant payments for a happy cash flow. Funds are transferred instantly into your business account, which can help you stay afloat during quiet periods.
  • Perfect for entrepreneurs. Whether you’re a tradesperson, market seller, or beyond, Atoa has you covered. Take quick, contactless payments from customers so you can focus on what really matters—growing your business.

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