From education to employment

Advice for setting up a small business after education

In the UK, the idea of setting up your own business is greatly appealing.

Surveys have found the seven out of 10 of us have pondered with the idea, while four out of five 16-21-years-olds would like to be their own boss. In 2017, there were 5.7 million private sector businesses, representing a four per cent rise on the previous year. However, perhaps staggeringly, 80 per cent of new businesses fail within their first 18 months.

There are so many businesses starting up, from a side hustle to a full-time project. But as a huge number are ultimately failing, we’re here to look at the laws you must follow and how to give your business the best chance of success through advertising.

Registering your business

When starting a business, most owners will register as a sole trader, limited company, or partnership. While it may be easier to set up as a sole trader, this deems you responsible for any debt the company may build up and leaves you in charge of certain accounting issues.

A limited company on the other hand allows you to keep your personal finances separate from your business assets. This too is easy to set up yourself, but many prefer to seek the assistance of a professional figure such as an accountant as there are a lot more reporting and management responsibilities involved.

If you’re going into business with someone else, it makes sense to go down the route of a partnership. This is the simplest way to set up your new business if there are two a more people involved.


Licensing is sometimes a section that can be overlooked when a small business is in the process of setting up. Certain small businesses may not require a licence, but you should always check at the earliest opportunity to avoid fines or being shut down before you’ve really began.

There’s also the issue of a licence to play music, sell food or even trade in the street. Use this tool to find out which licences your concept may require.


Business insurance covers you and your company against any unexpected costs. It doesn’t matter if you run a large multinational company, a small business, or are self-employed, it’s important to find the right insurance for you. For example, dog walkers insurance will greatly differ from catering insurance or retail insurance, so be sure to properly research your options.

Business insurance protects you against mistakes, damage and legal costs, known as liability insurance. Certain insurances are required by law, such as employers’ liability insurance. This will cover the cost of any injuries or illnesses any employees may suffer due to work. Elsewhere, if your company will be using vehicles, you must have commercial motor insurance, while some professions must also have professional indemnity insurance that has been provided by their professional bodies or regulators.

Cyber insurance and commercial property insurance are two examples of optional policies, but depending on the nature of your business, could well be worth purchasing. If you are going to be working from home, while it’s not a requirement to have business insurance, you should consider updating your home insurance as you’ll need to have the appropriate commercial property insurance.

Becoming an employer

If you intend to hire members of staff, you’ll have to consider several points. Firstly, how much will you be paying? Remember, it has to be at least the National Minimum wage and you must set up their National Insurance payments. It is worth noting here that you’ll be able to claim an allowance to reduce your bill. You must also make sure that they are actually legally entitled to work in the UK, so don’t just presume — be sure to do thorough checks, including a possible DBS check if needed.

Then there’s employment insurance, as mentioned previously, and the need to write up a legally binding statement of employment for any members of staff that will be employed for more than one month. HM Revenue and Customs must also be informed via registering as an employer.


After the legalities have been ironed out, it’s important to correctly advertise your services or business if you want to succeed. A solid marketing plan is crucial in order to outline where you want your business to go and how you can progress. It will look at how much advertising will cost. A great cost-effective way for any local start-up to take advantage of is door to door leaflet distribution.

Research has found that nine in 10 people remember receiving door-drop mail, with almost half confirming that they keep ahold of these leaflets, making it an effective method of advertising if you utilise it correctly. It’s recommended that you keep your content simple, include your business name and logo, telephone number, email address and the service(s) you are offering.

Similarly, newspaper advertisements can be a very cost-effective way to promote your business — if they have been properly written. Make sure you don’t neglect your online presence, either. This is a significant area in advertising at present, and social accounts are a great way to promote your business to your intended audience.

If you are opening a new office space, outdoor banners can direct people’s attention towards your business. These relatively cheap and durable displays can be used outside your workspace and research has found that the majority of a local business’s regular customers live within a five-mile radius of where you are based. This means that each potential customer could see your banner up to 60 times each week.

With so much to think about when you decide to set up your own company, it’s crucial to plan meticulously if you want your brand to be remembered and not end up another failed start-up. By fully researching the above points, you will stand yourself in good stead from the offset.

New to the industry? Just launching your brand? Need to get customers ASAP? If this sounds familiar, you need a self-promotional lookbook.

Used by fashion models and designers for decades, the lookbook is now making waves in a range of other professional industries — but why? A lookbook is a fast and effective technique for advertising your brand and what it has to offer. Focusing on striking images and minimal content, you get the opportunity to show your range in a way that’s sleek, stylish and professional.

If you need pointers on creating the ideal lookbook for your start-up, check out these top tips from Precision Printing — a leading supplier of litho printing.

What to include

Firstly, you need to plan what you need to feature in your lookbook — this is especially important if you have limited funds, as waste will lose you money. The essential lookbook elements are:

  • Cover page.
  • Sensible navigation.
  • High-quality images.
  • Enticing product/service descriptions.
  • Key brand details (including contact information and social media addresses).

Cover page

This is your only chance to make a first impression, so take extra care with your lookbook’s cover. The objective of the front cover is to grab attention, which means you need to think: attractive image, excellent use of colour, and an appealing title to compel the reader to want to know more. Cover pages typically detail the month and year and, if it’s not in the title, you need to have your brand name and logo somewhere here, too.


Your lookbook’s page order is also crucial to its success. You want to create a good experience for your potential customer when they’re reading your lookbook, and making sure it flows without interruption is essential.

For example, place all relatable products together, so the reader doesn’t have to thumb through the book to find items that might interest them. If you offer both goods and services, keep these separate, and try to section off connected articles into clear categories to deliver consistency and avoid making your lookbook appear disjointed.


Lookbooks are all about visuals — and the success of yours will rely on them. Make sure the photos you put into your lookbook are professionally-taken and of the highest quality, which means considering props, lighting, colour, setting, and image resolution for each shot. If this is one of your first print marketing campaigns, you don’t want any mistakes.

A good tactic used by other brands when making lookbooks is to utilise whitespace. Not every image needs to run border to border and whitespace is a modern photography technique used to create a focus point and highlight a particular part of the page — use it sparingly.

Employing a professional photographer is well worth the investment if you’re creating the first lookbook for your start-up to ensure you get a perfect product. However, you can do these yourself if you prefer, but just remember to check that you have exclusive rights for everything you include if they aren’t all original images.

Product descriptions

Lookbooks are image-led, but copy is still key to how well they’re received by the reader. Essentially, a lookbook will feature product/service descriptions and — if you’re a start-up — perhaps a brief brand description so everyone knows what you’re about.

So, how do you write for a lookbook? Quality lookbook copy must be:

  • Concise: no unnecessary words or details.
  • Informative: don’t leave your reader asking questions.
  • Interesting: grab your audience’s attention and keep it.
  • Enticing: make them want to give you their custom.

Content creation is another opportunity for you to create a relationship with your potential customer. Use professional language to convey your reliability, but try and adopt a chatty tone to come across as approachable. Try to avoid using very long words and sentences — these sound stuffy and clumsy — and keep your product descriptions between 30 and 60 words in length to avoid taking focus from your lookbook’s images.


Information likes addresses and contact info should go at the back of your lookbook — but that’s not to say they aren’t important. If you’re a new company on the scene, you’re going to have to shout about where new customers can get in touch with you. Make sure you include:

  • Shop address.
  • Phone number.
  • Email address.
  • Social media addresses.

Lookbook printing options and final preparations

Once your lookbook is designed, it’s time to print. Have a chat to your printing specialist about the type of paper stock and finishes that might look good and ask to see a few samples to get a better idea. The worst scenario would be to put so much time, money and effort into designing the perfect lookbook, only to have it ruined by opting for a cheap paper or poor finish.

Before sending off your hard work to the printers, check that every inch of your lookbook is correct. Proofread your copy, scan photos for anomalies and verify product names and prices. After its printed, get your lookbook out to as many potential customers as you can!

The lookbook is an impressive part of print marketing and an excellent way for a start-up to introduce itself, attract clientele and leave a lasting impression.

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