If you are in the process of establishing a start-up company you are probably reeling from all the issues that have to be dealt with; for example, various pieces of legislation, such registering with Companies House (if you are taking the limited liability route). You must also contact HMRC to arrange your UTR (unique tax reference) and PAYE, including RTI and the workplace pension scheme. In addition, time will have to be set aside for business planning, budgeting, sales forecasting, raising funding and marketing.
One particularly challenging aspect of getting your new business off the ground is acquiring, assembling and implementing management software programs and an IT and communications system to support it. Today, no enterprise can afford not to maintain at least a basic website and if you are serious about winning customers from already established competitors you should also be looking at developing a mobile app. More people now use apps to order products via their smartphones and tablets than on laptops, not to mention opening accounts with social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. If your business is focused on bringing both the sellers and buyers under one platform, you could look into building a marketplace app with the help of a marketplace builder.
A high proportion of consumers expect to interact with their favourite suppliers, so be prepared to set aside at least an hour or so every week to write blogs and reply to customer queries. One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a business owner is going to all the trouble and expense of setting-up an online presence and then not updating the content on a regular basis, Potential customers will soon look elsewhere if, every time they visit your site, they find it has not been updated or perhaps worse, you have failed to respond to their queries.
While there are certain aspects of setting up an ecommerce platform and its associated hardware you might feel comfortable organising yourself you should consider whether you time would be better spent dealing with critical core business issues, such as credit control, invoicing and marketing. Initially, at least, the cost of directly employing a highly skilled specialist is likely to be prohibitive. Instead, it might be more cost effective to use an IT contractor, who you only pay for the time he or she is working on a specific project. For example, you may need SAP ecommerce solutions to sell products across multiple distribution channels. By hiring an IT service provider like Royal Cyber, you can extend your storefront capabilities, and implement intuitive features that will help you sell more and create a profit. In addition to the financial benefits of only employing a contractor, as and when the need arises, you also have the ability to hire individuals with expertise in specific areas. For example, you may need someone to install an accounting program one week and a telephone system the next. As the company expands you may find that you need even more complex software platforms, such as MRP (Materials Requirement Planning) or ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), in which case you have the option to hire contractors specialising solely in such systems. If you’re a business looking to take operations to the next level, making use of an ERP Consultant could be the way forward.
There are, of course drawbacks to using contractors; the most notable being that your preferred IT expert may not be available when needed. You also have to ensure you are operating in compliance with HMRC’s IR35 legislation, which is designed to prevent independent contractors and employers avoiding paying income tax. Put simply, you must be able to show that the contractor is only employed on a project by project basis rather than being a full-time employee. The contractor has to convince HMRC that they work for a number of clients over the course of the year. Comprehensive IR35 advice is available from HMRC or one of the reputable umbrella companies used by IT contractors, which are to be found online.
If you are struggling to keep your head above water during the start-up phase of your new enterprise why not give serious consideration to taking advantage of the skilled pool of independent IT contractors who are just waiting to offer their advice and expertise at surprisingly cost effective and affordable rates?