Considerations for starting your own business

Love the idea of being your own boss? It could be the best thing you ever do. But, where do you start?

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3 min read

Article Considerations Starting Own Business

It’s important to be clear about the product or service you are offering, whether there’s a market for it, ensure that people are willing to pay for it and that you have the capacity to carry the plan to fruition.

Finding the right idea and model for your business

You have an idea. Remember to be clear on the product or service you are offering. Can you describe what you do or sell clearly and concisely? If not, your idea probably needs some work. And, is there a market for your idea? The most successful businesses provide a solution or an answer to a clear business need or problem. There may be a gap in the market or there may be a way to differentiate your service from other businesses operating within the same space. This may be done by offering added value, a unique selling point or a more affordable product or service that answers that same customer need.

Perhaps you plan to transition from full time employment to selling your skills on a freelance or contract basis. When branching out alone, it’s still advisable to do some research into the market. What are other freelancers charging for their services, and how do they market themselves? How can you differentiate your service offering from others in the same sector? Think about whether you want to be a generalist or a specialist in a certain area. For example, do you want to work with companies in one particular sector such as financial services, food and drink. This does narrow your market, but carving a niche can be beneficial and reduce the competition for business.

Or you might be looking to change careers and turn a hobby into a business. Buying a franchise can be a popular option because it involves taking on a known brand name and comes with a tried and tested business model. There’s usually a considerable investment required with something like this though. Resources such as the British Franchise Association or Which Franchise.com might be useful to help you identify what could be right for you.

Business Gateway supports people starting up and running businesses across an array of sectors. Some of these business types are listed below. They may provide inspiration if you are still looking for a suitable idea and business model to follow.

  • Mobile businesses – delivering personal services in people’s homes such as hairdresser, chiropodist, beautician, tutor
  • Creative businesses – making and selling jewelry, craft, interior design consultations, candle making, paintings and sculpture
  • Retail – selling online or in shops, markets, in-shop concessions or shopping boutiques
  • Coaching or consultancy – pass on your expertise to individuals or corporate customers
  • Teaching/training – company team building, industry specific training, personal/group tuition
  • Services for those who are time poor – ironing, childminding, dog walking, cleaning, gardening, joiner or tradesmen
  • Fashion or clothing – designing/making clothes, bags or accessories, alterations, tailoring
  • Technical – car maintenance/servicing, computer repair, gas & heating engineer, other trades
  • Food & drink – can include anything from a local café to event catering, cake baking to brewing & distilling
  • Business support services - Marketing, PR, copywriting, advertising, virtual assistant, web development
  • Health related – personal trainer, gym owner, healthy eating adviser, Health & Safety, pest control
  • Driving jobs – delivery driver, courier, minibus hire/driver, removal services, taxi driver
  • Tourism – providing accommodation (hotel/B&B/guest house/campsite etc), outdoor activities, recreation facilities

Sense checking viability of your business

Aside from validating your idea with the market and your target customers, there are some practical considerations to think about before diving in.

  • Where will you trade from – home or premises – and what are the costs/legal implications?
  • How will you sell – online/offline/mail order/shop/market stall etc?
  • Do you require qualifications, licenses and/or insurance to operate?
  • Will you need staff or can you operate on your own?
  • Do you have all the necessary skills to run the business or will you have to contract with others? (eg a web developer, book-keeper etc)
  • How will you fund your new business and what will you live on until it’s established?

These questions will all affect your cash flow and ability to run the business, so important to iron these out from the beginning and have a clear plan of what you hope and need to achieve for the business to be a success. More information on business planning, financial considerations such as pricing, cash flow management and sales forecasting are available in online resources [insert link].

Making sure you are right for your business

It sounds obvious, but an important consideration. Having a good business idea is only the beginning of the story. Running a business can be extremely rewarding, but it’s a challenge requiring determination, resilience, personal drive and imagination. Perhaps you have the technical or academic qualifications required to work within your field, but it’s worth spending some time doing a sense check of your transferable skills and thinking about your personality - how you as an individual tick and like to work. This is your opportunity to create the best working environment for you so it’s important to get it right. Some questions you might ask yourself include:

How do you want to balance your work and home life? How much time do you have to commit to work each week? The start-up period, depending on your business may mean doing a bit of everything until your income justifies hiring staff. This makes you solely responsible for the needs of the business so establish your boundaries from the start. Where are you willing to be flexible?

What financial resources do you have to get the business up and running? Consider all of your outgoings - business and personal and this will help you with pricing your product or service, creating a budget and a sales forecast for the short and long-term.

Do you have a back-up plan? Being ready with a secondary income or thoughts on what you will do when you have a quieter business period provides peace of mind. Spending time in the start-up period to build enough income for a few months salary is always useful. Consider this before spending all of your start-up funds on stock and premises.

Are you a good communicator? A good leader? Is this something you could work on? Think about training and development to enable you to be the best you can be for your business and the people you employ. Effective communication is crucial for good business, whether negotiating with suppliers to get the best deals, building a loyal customer base or leading a team. This might also mean sharpening your skills in a specific area, such as digital. Our DigitalBoost programme offers one to one advice, workshops and online resources to help those starting and running a business. The guide on digital upskilling would be a great starting point.

How do you deal with adversity and uncertainty? Think about how you can make yourself resilient to stress. Have coping mechanisms and look after your own health, physically and mentally.

Have you checked the legal requirements and accreditation required to practice / operate in your sector? It is important to check legal requirements before you commence trading.

Further support

Business Gateway offers free training, workshops and one to one advice for people starting up and running a business. They can be booked via www.bgateway.com/events.

We also offer opportunities to network with other like-minded people and to hear from those with experience of running their own business – find out more from your local BG office and read some of their inspirational stories on the website at www.bgateway.com/stories.

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