There was a time when budding entrepreneurs and marketeers just had to come up with a catchy, quirky name and image to launch their business and capture the attention of customers.

Using a clever play on words or a fashionable buzzword, a business could be launched into the marketplace with the hope of capturing the public imagination.

However, in today's competitive environment, this is not enough. With an overcrowded and sometimes saturated market, many other factors have to be addressed.

It wasn't so long ago when we were all being told to ‘go online' and ‘get a website'. Many were suspicious of the ecommerce revolution, but here we are in 2008 and, in a business sense, if you're not online, you're not alive.

Unfortunately it is no longer a straight choice of ‘Do I get a .com or a' There are so many gtld's (domain suffixes) to choose from, including .eu, .tv to .mobi and the list will only get bigger. Then there are the numerous website design options to be considered: ‘Do I want flash? Do I need a shopping basket? How much web space do I need?' The list goes on and on.

Once you are finally up and running online, you are competing with literally millions of websites to be seen and this is where search engine optimisation comes in. It is no longer enough to just ‘have a website'; you have to make sure it can be found through the many online search engines. So you have to consider metatags, pay-per-click and sponsored listings, among other options.

Many were suspicious of the ecommerce revolution, but here we are in 2008 and, in a business sense, if you're not online, you're not alive

Of course all of these preferences can be expensive, coupled with sorting out branding and trade marks, business names and company names. You will need to find out if your chosen business name, company name, domain name and trade mark is not already in use in relation to your chosen nature of business and intended market area. You then need to consider registration to protect your corporate identity.

When setting up a business, you will have to juggle these and many other responsibilities and ensure adequate time is set aside.

Time is one commodity that is very precious in today's commercial arena and is usually in very short supply. Owner managers just want to run and manage their business within their area of expertise and not get bogged down with additional responsibilities.

All of these responsibilities are not just prevalent when starting your business, but just as important is to ensure that you are one step ahead of your competitors and constantly monitoring and evolving where required.

This can involve repeatedly checking to see if your current trading style is being copied and updating your corporate image periodically, making sure it does not become tired or outdated.

The modern business environment is changing and if you're not moving forward you can be sure that your rivals will be.

It is essential that owners of businesses, whether sole traders, partnerships or limited companies keep up to date with the latest business news, changes in legislation and financial updates.

Whether business is good or bad, the economic climate is optimistic or pessimistic it is important to keep informed and aware, and to not be slow in seeking the advice and guidance of experts in the areas that owners may not have the time or knowledge to fully embrace.

Use the free tools available on the internet and take the experts' advice and opinions wherever possible, because you know your competitors will.

Corin Elliott is divisional manager at National Business Register. For more information visit