Thinking of Starting a Business? – A Guide For Newbies

Article by Vicky Walmsley owner of Risus Wholesale,

Event Smiles and Archie’s Toy Box

What to sell

This is the million dollar question! Basically no one can tell you what to sell, you have to come up with that one on your own. The best piece of advice is to choose a niche that interests you and gets you excited. There is absolutely no point trying to sell something that doesn’t get your blood pumping and makes you jump out of bed in the morning raring to go! Once you have decided on the products you wish to sell then the next step is research……….. and lots of it. Find as many people as possible that already sell the items and see how they go about it and find ways to improve on what they are doing. Remember being the cheapest does not always mean you are on the road to success, price is not everything! You can still be more expensive so long as you offer a good all round service, try and find a unique selling point that makes you stand out from the crowd.

The other piece of advice is don’t run before you can crawl. Start small and reinvest any profits you make into more stock. Gradually widen your product range but be careful not to overstretch yourself, cashflow is key!

Where do I get it from

Once you have decided on your chosen product range it is time to start sourcing. Your first big decision is do I get it from a UK wholesaler or do I go overseas? I shall set out some of the pros and cons for each avenue of sourcing……………….

UK Wholesalers – There are still loads of wholesalers around the UK (although not as many as there used to be!) who will be willing to supply you, but remember that you can’t just walk in off the street and expect them to serve you. Many wish to preserve their lines of distribution by only selling to registered businesses and wont supply members of the public. To avoid being turned away make sure you go armed with information showing you are a legitimate business. Take headed notepaper, business cards, utility bill, company registration number or any other form of id you can come up with. I have compiled a large list of UK wholesalers that should help you find someone in your area -…02257-list-uk-cash-and-carry-wholesalers.html. The downside of using UK wholesalers is that you may find the margins are not what you would expect and also that you might actually be competing against your own supplier as every man and his dog seems to sell on Ebay these days!

Overseas Suppliers – This mainly covers China as the vast majority of the worlds goods are made there but there are other countries worth looking at if needed. Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, India are all worth a look and even some European countries still have thriving manufacturing industries. It really depends on the type of product you are looking for. If the product you are trying to source is branded and you find a good looking Chinese supplier, STOP NOW!! You will not get genuine branded products from China, they are pretty much all fake! If you do take the risk then fully expect your goods to be seized by customs or maybe not arrive at all. If a deal looks too good to be true then it probably is.

Having said this there are plenty of legit suppliers out there it is just a case of researching the company to make sure you are happy with them. Start with sites like DHGate, Alibaba, Global Sources and see how you get on. If you are unsure about a particular company try posting their name on the forum and see if anyone has any experience of using them. For those of you with a little more cash in your pocket I would strongly advise getting on a plane and meeting some suppliers face to face. Read my guide here -…191-guide-doing-business-face-face-china.html

Another very useful way of finding suppliers is to go to a trade exhibition and see what is on offer and try and talk to suppliers and build up a business relationship. Again go armed with info on your business and for god’s sake, look professional! Too many times people come to our stand at trade shows looking like they just got out of bed and then wonder why they are not taken seriously. You are projecting an image of your business and if you look like you don’t care about your appearance then suppliers will presume you won’t care about running a professional business either. If you can’t make it to a trade fair then there are literally thousands of suppliers out there with websites that you can contact. I have compiled a list to make things a bit easier for you -…ion/100067-large-list-suppliers-websites.html.

One piece of advice I would give is not to email any potential suppliers as this can be easily ignored and most suppliers will pass you off as a time waster. If you are serious about purchasing from someone, send them a letter on headed notepaper, they are much more likely to take you seriously.

Where to sell

Most people start with Ebay as it is the best way to get your goods seen by millions of people for relatively little money. Many people will moan about the fees (me included on occasion) but it really is a good place to start your business and gain experience in buying and selling. Ebay is very cut throat as everyone is trying to undercut each other, my advice would be not to worry about being the cheapest but instead concentrate on offering a good service and visually appealing listings. If you research the do and don’ts of Ebaying then you should be fine.

You can also try other sites like Amazon and Gumtree but depending on what you are selling you will probably find Ebay is still the best place to sell online.

Another option is to get out into the wide world and actually interact with fellow human beings. Car boot sales, indoor and out door markets and Christmas fairs can be great venues for selling goods. Research some local attractions and go along and find out about pitch costs and availability. Give it a go you might surprise yourself.

The next step is to aim at opening your own e-commerce site. Once you have established sales and built up a good customer base then it might be time to spread your wings. There are plenty of pros on the forum that can help you set up a site for relatively little money.

Registering your business, Tax & VAT

Here are the basics:

When do I register with HMRC? – Straight away. They used to give you 30 days to get registered but now you need to do it as close to your first day’s trading as possible otherwise you may incur a fine.

Will I have to pay tax? – Yes you will need to do an annual tax return each year and pay tax on any profit your company has earned.

Do I need to register for VAT – No, not to begin with. You only register for tax once you have reached the £70,000 per year turnover threshold. It is more hassle than it’s worth when you are first starting out so don’t let it worry you.

Book keeping

This can be the thing that confuses and troubles most start up businesses but once you become used to keeping records it becomes second nature. The most important thing is to keep EVERY receipt and bit of evidence that is pertinent to your business. If you pay for something, anything that is connected with your business then you can claim for it as an expense. When claiming for expenses you total them up for the year and deduct the total from your yearly profit thus paying less tax.

I have created a basic Excel spreadsheet for book keeping that should get you started -…newbies-example-spreadsheet-you-download.html

This should cover most of the basics to get you started but if you have any specific questions then I am more than happy to try and answer them.

Written by Vicky Walmsley.


Risus Ltd, run by Vicky Walmsley is committed to supplying a large range of toys, novelties, wedding supplies and party goods at affordable prices to a wide variety of customers.

We have a retail website launching at the end of August to supply Mums with party bag toys and party supplies –

We also run a wholesale business for customers who wish to buy in bulk for retail shops, fund raising events, school PTA’s or Ebay selling –

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Other articles by Vicky Walmsley:

10 Things That You Can Actively Do To Increase Your Chances of Success in Business


Other articles about business


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