Have you being watching The Apprentice? If seeing Joseph Valente secure Sir Alan Sugar’s £250,000 investment has inspired you start up your own business, here’s everything you need to know to get you started.

Perfect your business plan

If you cringed at Richard’s mountain-inspired business plan on The Apprentice, you’ll know how important it is to keep your business plan simple. Don’t get caught up in corporate waffle — do so and you run the risk of confusing yourself!

Instead, create a clear, concise business plan. Determine what kind of business you’ll operate, set yourself end goals and give yourself realistic dates to achieve them by. Don’t ignore potential pitfalls in the hope they will go away — after all, The Apprentice’s Vana played down the immense cost of her app, which inevitably cost her the final. Tackle them head on to create effective solutions that won’t be detrimental to your business.

Get out there

Once you’ve formed your business, you’ll need to start building your brand. Exposure is everything when it comes to generating interest, so you should attend as many networking events as you can. From trade shows to corporate talks, the events will provide the perfect opportunity to mix with others in your industry.

If you’re an effective networker, you’ll leave with a number of new contacts that can be crucial for developing your business. Make sure you store them safely — tucking them away in a drawer is not an effective way of organising. Instead, invest in customer database software. Available from Act!, the software will grow with your business, helping you keep track of past, existing and potential customers as your brand expands.

Go social

Social media has become a prominent marketing tool as the reach of sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn has continued to grow. The sites you use will depend on the nature of your business. For example, Instagram is the perfect platform for fashion retailers but is not so suitable for more industrial professions.

In general, Facebook and Twitter are essential platforms, as they are used by a host of individuals with a wealth of different interests. Set up an account on each and use it to push out details of your business, as well as promoting any special offers you may have. If your account is new, running social media competitions or offering discount codes can help you attract followers.