Useful Tools for Starting a Business in the U.K.
Those that have chosen to come to the U.K. to start a new business may be doing so to take advantage of the strong economy and business opportunities in various fields. But there are a number of hurdles to overcome, one of which is obtaining the correct business visa.
The Tier 1 Investor Visa is for investors who are ready to invest more than £2,000,000. For the Innovator Visa investors must have £50,000 in investment funds, unless the business is already endorsed by an appropriate government body, such as UK Naric. The Start-up Visa doesn’t require funding, but an endorsement is also needed. Both visas are applicable to entrepreneurs from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland.
While most of the tools listed below are cloud-based, technical support is a service that is required by most new businesses at least once. Finding a trusted London-based IT support company is, therefore, an advisable measure for keeping your operations in order so you can focus on your core business.
Making a business plan – LivePlan
This is a business planning software that is aimed at entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises. LivePlan has 15 years of experience in creating expert business plans, as well as features that include forecasting, budgeting and performance tracking. The software offers a simple interface and a dashboard that is easy to use and keep track of all areas of business. LivePlan also includes more than 500 sample plans that can be used for inspiration or organising ideas. To keep things simple, LivePlan offers just one plan at an affordable price.
How to get funded – Innovate UK
This is a business accelerator across the U.K. that helps new businesses with funding, and making connections with partners, customers and investors. The project has invested £2.5 billion since 2007 and has worked with 8,500 businesses. It matches the investment that businesses receive from the industry. It is a part of the larger U.K. Research and Innovation funding agency in science and research. Other possible sources of funding could be the British Business Bank’s Finance Hub, or Start-Up Loans, the latter offering loans up to £25,000.
Building a website – Wix
In 2020, every new business project needs a web presence as an absolute minimum requirement. This is easy to manage with a high-quality website builder like Wix, which enables users to easily create a beautiful and professional website that is also mobile-friendly. Wix has more than 500 web templates to choose from and a useful drag-and-drop editor. Free hosting and custom domain names are available, as well as a mobile app, a personalised mailbox, analytics and a wide range of add-ons. Wix offers a free version, with various premium and business plans also available.
How to find a property – Zoopla
For finding a commercial property for sale or to rent, Zoopla is a leading software solution. It can help you to stay up to date with the latest information on property prices, running costs and market trends. Users can save their favourite searches and properties, and configure custom alerts. It is also possible to contact agents directly through the app. There is also a house price tool based on Zoopla estimates and an easy way of finding free valuations from local estate agents. Zoopla is available free of charge on iOS and Google Play.
Project management – Asana
A project management tool that puts a large emphasis on tracking, Asana helps businesses to improve their productivity. Users are able to create reminders and to-do lists, schedule deadlines, share with colleagues, add comments and instructions for tasks. Images and other media can be shared from other popular apps, such as Google Drive, and all projects can be carefully followed and recorded. Asana shows clearly which teams and individuals are working on each project, and completed tasks can be easily found with a search function. There are a basic free version and a premium version for a minimal monthly cost.
Keeping teams connected – Slack
Slack is a business communications app that has more than 12 million daily users worldwide, and around three million paid accounts. It is a cloud-based messaging service that allows colleagues to take part in private, public and group chats, and various file types can be shared. This makes communication within an organisation much quicker and easier, and available at all times. Slack integrates with over 2,000 popular apps, such as Google Drive and Salesforce, and it is completely mobile friendly. The software is free, though premium plans offer more features, such as video calls with 15 participants.
Managing your accounts – Xero
Xero is an accounting software solution that is aimed at businesses of all sizes. It has a popular appeal, with an appearance that is regularly updated, and new features are frequently added. Xero has an organised central dashboard from which it is possible to easily create bills, invoices, purchase orders and more. It is cloud-based, includes a mobile app, and it integrates with over 800 third-party apps. There is no free plan, but a range of options in premium plans. The base-level plans can also be added to with extra features at an extra cost.
Customer Relationship Management – Zoho CRM
For businesses of all sizes, customer relationship management (CRM) has become an essential tool in recent years. Zoho CRM gives the chance to take control of every customer relationship lifecycle by managing and appropriately responding to data that is collected from various channels. This helps to improve the marketing, sales, inventory management, customer service and customer support throughout an organisation. It also features a calendar, email marketing and mobile access. The CRM service from Zoho is affordable when compared with competitors so it is a good option for startups. It is customisable and can easily scale as the business grows.
There is a wide variety of business apps for new businesses to take advantage of, and many of these offer free versions or affordable premium plans. These digital solutions can increase efficiency and productivity, and they are usually scalable enough to grow with the business. With processes automated and optimised, entrepreneurs are left to concentrate on moving their companies forward. To get things started, hiring a proficient IT company is an excellent first step.