How to start a business in 2024: Tips from entrepreneurs

How to start a business in 2024: Tips from entrepreneurs

Posted: Wed 10th Jan 2024

If you dream of starting your own business and being your own boss, you're not alone. Thousands of people across the UK and Ireland are taking the plunge into entrepreneurship and setting up new ventures with ambitions of success.

But if you were to step into the world of business ownership, would you know where to get all the support and guidance you might need? This is where the StartUp UK programme can help.

In partnership with Monzo Business, StartUp UK is providing brand-new resources, in-person events, downloadable guides and meet-ups for entrepreneurs. If you're interested but aren't yet signed up, you can join StartUp UK for free now.

In the meantime, here are our top tips for getting a new business up and running in 2024:

Complete guide on how to start a business in 2024

Write your business plan

"A business plan is essential in helping you think about the what, how and why of your business," says accountant Ed Sanford.

"So, what service you're going to be providing or what goods you'll be selling. How you're going to be selling them. And, most importantly, why that product or service is needed in the marketplace."

When you start writing your business plan, be sure to include information on the following:

Your business idea

Not every business completely reinvents the wheel. You might not have found a completely new way of doing things, or a completely innovative product.

That's fine! Many businesses come out of someone making a small change to an established item, and turning it into something remarkable.

Tip: "Be clear about what you offer your customers," says Kathy Ennis. "Do you sell designer baby clothes, or do you actually sell an opportunity for parents and their children to fit into a certain crowd?

"Do you sell loaves of bread, or the key element in making the perfect sandwich? When you're clear on what you're actually selling, then you can begin to market it effectively."

Further reading:

Your target market

It's all about getting your product or service in front of the right people. So, whether you're selling to other businesses (known as business-to-business, or B2B) or to consumers (business-to-consumer, or B2C), there are demographics and personal elements about your customers that you need to hone.

Tip: "Be proactive rather than reactive," Kathy Ennis advises. "So, instead of thinking about who you want to buy your stuff, consider who you're going to make buy your stuff.

"Put the emphasis on yourself and the type of people you want to work with (or for). Don't just leave it at the fact that there are some people out there who one day might want to buy from you."

Further reading:

Your operations

This is where you highlight to the reader how your business runs and outline your day-to-day operations. You can also include a little bit more about you and your background, and your team (if you have one).

Tip: "Really put your expertise front and centre," Sophie Eglin recommends. "Explain the skills and knowledge that you and your team have that sets you apart and makes you good at what you do.

"It might be a qualification in a particular area that makes your business sound more viable, professional and authentic.

"Perhaps you've volunteered somewhere and gained really good experience. Or, maybe you've come from a similar industry and really perfected your craft over the years."

Further reading:

Your finances

Typically the final section of the plan, this sets out how you intend to fund the business. Will you finance it yourself or will you need outside investment, for example? And how will you pay yourself over time, as you get the business off the ground?

Tip: "If you do plan to seek investment, highlight in your business plan how you'll go about it," says Sophie Eglin.

"Also present any financial forecasts and revenue projections, and figures relating to your expenses and cash flow. But be realistic, and crunch your numbers as best you can."

Further resources:

  • In this webinar, HSBC's Carrie Taylor-Mell and Stefan Johnson explain what banks look for when assessing a business plan.


Download your free business plan template from StartUp UK

If you need help getting all this down on paper, why not download our free business plan template?


Choose the right business structure

Generally, you can run a business as one of the following:

Sole trader

Being a sole trader means that you're running a business on your own without any partners or co-founders.

You're personally responsible for all aspects of the business, including finances, decisions and liabilities. You have full control over the business but bear all of the risks and responsibilities alone.

Tip: "There are several benefits to setting up as a sole trader," accountant Anna Romasko says. "It's a much easier and cheaper way to run a business. You can take money out from the business whenever you feel like it. You don't even have to open a separate business bank account if you don't want to.

"And it could be more tax-efficient than the limited company if your profits are low. All in all, it's more straightforward than the limited company structure."

Further resources:

  • In this webinar, Anna talks through the main differences between a sole trader and a limited company, including around taxes and legal obligations.

Limited company

When you set up as a limited company, the business has its own legal identity, separate from its owners (i.e. you). This limits your liability to the amount you've invested in the company, meaning your personal assets are protected.

Limited companies must also keep to specific legal and financial rules, such as filing yearly accounts and obeying company law regulations.

Tip: "If your business is likely to make more than £35,000 of annual profits straight away, as a sole trader you'd be paying nearly £1,350 of Class 4 national insurance," tax expert Paula Tomlinson explains.

"So it might be more worthwhile setting up as a limited company. That way, you can take a mixture of salary and dividends from your company without paying any national insurance."

Further reading:


In this type of business structure, there are two types of partners:

  • General partners who manage the business and have unlimited liability

  • Limited partners who invest in the business, but have limited liability and are not involved in the day-to-day running

Limited partnerships are a way for co-owners to blend their skills and experience, and for investors to have some control without being personally liable for its debts and obligations. 

Further reading:


How to register your small business: Read our guide

Not sure which structure would suit you best? Read our guide to registering a new small business.


Set a budget and draw up a financial forecast

Budgeting and forecasting are a vital element of business finance.

  • Budgeting is important for identifying where to cut or increase spending, developing realistic goals, and encouraging investors and lenders. Download our budgeting template

  • A financial forecast is a projection of what your business may achieve. It is just a prediction but should help you to prepare for your business's future and financial health.

Learn how to budget and forecast for success

Get your business admin under control

Mastering your business admin is crucial for protecting your business.

One key element is intellectual property (IP). When you start a business, you'll likely have at least one form of IP – this might be a trademark, a patent, copyright or a registered design, for example.

You may also need business insurance, depending on the type of business you're setting up. There's a wide range of business insurance available, but some might not be relevant to your particular venture. Learn more in our guide to business insurance.

Know your customer

Having a clear idea of your target audience is essential to building a successful business. Do you have insight into your target customers' wants and needs? How do you compare to the competition?

You can collect data on your customers and research your target audience in a number of ways. Learn more about buyer personas, and find out about the benefits of doing your market research.

Set goals

It's important to know where you want to take your business and what goals you have. If you know where you're going, you're more likely to get there! Goals give you clarity and help you focus.

Here are some tips on how to set effective goals for your small business. You can also watch our webinar, in which we break down how to create a 90-day roadmap you can use as a guide to set impactful business goals, overcome challenges and give yourself direction for meeting your targets.

Learn how to sell

Seems obvious, but to have a business you must be able to sell your products or services. You do this by understanding what goes into the sales process.

There are many elements to achieving sales through your business: from identifying your target customers, writing a sales plan, and once you're up and running expanding on your existing sales.

Get started with these simple tips from StartUp UK on how to make sales. Read our guide to getting your first sales as a new business, then watch our webinar on how to grow your sales using online and digital methods.

Use the power of social media

Social media is one of the most popular routes to advertising your business online, and there are many free social media channels with which you can get started.

You can download our free guides to starting a business on:

Find out how to create a social media strategy for your small business, and how to maintain an online presence.

Learn digital marketing

Digital marketing is key to growing a business. It teaches you how to communicate with your customers and build a relationship with them online.

Watch our webinars and learn the four things you need to know about digital marketing, and find out how to create a digital marketing strategy with no budget.

Make sure you have a good work-life balance

Starting a business can take up a lot of time, so it's important to manage your time and learn the importance of boundaries and balance.

Find out why starting a business can help you lead a better life, and watch our webinar on how to create a work-life blend as a business owner and entrepreneur.

Support you can get from the StartUp UK programme in 2024

StartUp UK is a pioneering scheme, providing free tailored support to the next generation of start-up entrepreneurs. Backed by the UK government and supported by Monzo Business, the programme delivers the following:

  • Events and workshops:

    • Virtual workshops take a deep dive into business topics such as marketing, business planning and branding

    • Lunch and Learn webinars provide top tips and inspiration

    • StartUp Saturday events are one-day in-person events where you can learn everything you need to start a business

  • Downloadable guides: Free practical resources to support you with the fundamental tasks of getting a business going.

  • E-learning: Access a free programme to learn all the essentials of starting up a business. The courses cover everything from coming up with an idea, to marketing on a budget, to acquiring your first customers.

  • Money-saving offers: It's possible to start a business on a small budget. Find great offers and discounts on the small business tools and technology you need.


StartUp UK: Turn your good idea into a great business

Access support to start your business

Visit the StartUp UK hub for resources that give you the education and inspiration to get started on your entrepreneurial journey.

Enterprise Nation has helped thousands of people start and grow their businesses. Led by founder, Emma Jones CBE, Enterprise Nation connects you to the resources and expertise to help you succeed.

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