Start up checklist | Royal Bank of Scotland


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Add your signposting title here… Getting started

You can use our checklist below to make sure you consider all areas when starting your business.

There's also a range of other resources available to help you, including information and guidance from the Government.

Once you've used the checklist, if you're ready to open an account for your business you can read about our business bank accounts.

More about starting a business

Royal Bank of Scotland Business Banking is available to eligible customers, over 18 who have the right to be self employed in the UK

Things you need to know!

Every business starts with an idea, it's how you develop it that will determine your success. Here are 10 tips to help your startup flourish

Research the market

Research your potential customer base thoroughly before launching your business. Is there a demand for your product or service? Look at your target customer and make sure you understand their needs. Email them, call them, carry out a survey in the street - whatever it takes.


Business coach Rob Da Costa says: 'Understand the competition. If you feel there isn't any competition, I would seriously question your idea, as you've either come up with the best idea since sliced bread (which is unlikely) or you've got something people aren't going to want.'

Find a niche

As part of your research, investigate your competition and differentiate yourself from them by offering something they don't. Simply selling the product at a cheaper price won't guarantee customers. People will often pay more if they're happy with product or service. Remember that customers purchase a product to fulfil a need.

Plan, plan and plan some more

Write a business plan that covers the following points:


  • What you will sell
  • Who will buy it
  • How your product or service assists customers
  • What you will charge
  • How else you can make money from the business
  • How you'll spread the word about your business
  • How you'll encourage referrals
  • How much you'll need to earn for it to be a success
  • Any obstacles and possible solutions to overcome them

You can also read our comprehensive guide to writing a business plan.

Read our guide

Develop a strategy

Determine what your long-term goals are, then develop a strategy to ensure you achieve them.


Rob explains: 'Imagine your goal as an island you want to reach. The strategy is how to get to the island - will you build a bridge or hire a helicopter for example? To make this decision you need to research all available methods, then decide which is best. Once you've decided upon a strategy, work out how you're going to implement it. If you're building a bridge, what design will you use and what materials do you need? This will form your action plan.'

Tell the world

You can have the best idea in the world, but if you don't have a way to tell your target market it's a non-starter. For a marketing plan to work, you need to understand your customers' behaviours.


You will probably have to reach out to them a number of times; you need to convince them that they can't afford to ignore what you're offering. It's best to contact potential customers in multiple different ways eg by Twitter, email and at a seminar.  

Embrace social media - but be selective

Social media has made it much easier for small businesses to reach niche markets. It's also a cost effective way for start-up companies to reach their target audience. However, it's better to fully understand which channels will work best for you before embarking on a social media strategy.


Business coach Rob Da Costa warns: 'Make sure you think about the purpose of using different channels and what you expect to do. If you're really smart you can use social media as your primary approach to marketing but you need to use it wisely.'

Hire an accountant

Get an accountant from day one. When you start a business, many of your decisions will determine the legal structure of your business, so it helps to have an expert on side. A chartered accountant can prepare your accounts but also help with your business strategy. An expert will also be able to offer you legal advice about your taxes.

You can also use FreeAgent, software that helps you manage your business accounts, create and send invoices, track time, log expenses and forecast your business tax bills. 

Be a FreeAgent!

Survive for 6 months with no income!

Many businesses fail because they haven't planned their finances adequately. Ensure you have enough money stashed away to keep you going for the first six months as your business may not take off immediately. It takes time to build a brand, create a reputation and to let people know what you're doing. You've got to be able to survive during that initial period.

Create a peer group

Talk to other businesses that are doing a similar thing to you, or are in the same development stage. Build a peer group around you and talk to others who are starting out. Most people are willing to help, so ask them questions. Your Chamber of Commerce will be able to advise you and put you in touch with other business owners in your area.

Establish a work-life balance and stick to it

Finally, before you take the leap, discuss your expectations with your family and secure their support. Put boundaries in place - if you are working from home, ensure you secure time and space away from your office/work environment at the end of each day.

Business coach Rob Da Costa says: 'Don't allow your work to spill into other parts of your house. Try not to answer emails immediately if you're having down time - turn off your phone if you can. It's important to have time away from work because it helps you feel fresh and invigorated.'

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Add your signposting title here… Banking with us

If you need a bank account for your new business, our startup package could help. 

With 18 months free banking, it's been designed to help your business get off to a flying start!

Startup package is available to businesses that have been trading for less than a year and have an annual turnover under £1 million.

Apply for our startup package
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