Have you got a great business idea? That’s the real starting point for any business. With modern technology opening up communications with people all over the world, sometimes an idea and an internet connection is all it takes.
A great idea doesn’t have to be a brand new invention. It may be about doing something better, or differently than it’s been done before. Or it could be about spotting a gap in the market, and offering a product or service that doesn’t exist in your area.
Don’t let starting your own business daunt you. There’s lots to think about and do, but take it step by step and stay positive.
First... figure out what you want to do
You’ve got your business idea, now you need to do your research.
- What do they think about your idea?
- Would they buy or use it?
- What difference would it make to them?
- How much would they pay for it?
Don’t just rely on friends and family for their opinions as they may skew your research because they want to support you. That moral and emotional support is really important to help you get your business off the ground, but make sure you get some impartial backing too.
Weigh up the risks and rewards
Starting your own business can be risky. But most exciting things have an element of risk about them.
The beauty of it being your business is that you can decide what the right level of risk is for you.
Standard advice is ‘don’t bet your home’. It’s about going into business with your eyes open and not betting more than you can afford to lose. Realistically, lots of small businesses fail. But that doesn’t mean yours will.
Remember the rewards of running your own business can far outweigh the risk. It’s exciting to create something from scratch, to do something you’ve always wanted to do, and enjoy the freedom of working for yourself, making your own money, your own rules.
Try it out
Starting a business doesn’t have to mean a huge financial cost. You can begin with very little or no investment.
Start from home, or trade online for little or no cost. Run a business alongside your regular job, or, if you’re planning a retail business, try out a one-off pop up shop to see if your idea is a goer.
Weigh up the skills you have and the skills you need
As well as your idea and enthusiasm, there are other attributes that can help you make your business a success.
You may have a great practical skill - for example, painting, making or fixing things; or be able to offer a service like IT or marketing support, but can you sell your product or service? Can you go out and find customers?
You don’t have to be a financial whizz to run your own business. Accounting software can help you keep track of your money. But you do need to have a good idea of your costs and expenses and how much you can realistically make from your business. Think about what you need to break even and what you need to live on. Can you support yourself while you get your business going?
You may not have all the skills you need. But do you know or can you learn enough to be competent, or find someone who will help you fill in the gaps?
Be organised and decisive
When you work for yourself, you have to be prepared to do everything.
That can mean long hours, hard work and never really being ‘off duty’. Are you prepared for that?
You’ll be the boss. That means making all the decisions. And being organised. In business you have bills to pay, customers to serve, questions to answer and things to do every day. Can you organise or delegate so things don’t get forgotten?
You’ll also have to deal with legislation – everything from national insurance and health and safety, if you employ people; to tax returns and VAT if your business makes more than the tax threshold.
But lots of businesses have to deal with that, and even if it’s all new to you right now, there’s plenty of help and advice to help you get it right.
Great businesses ideas usually come from a real passion, and someone with the drive and determination to make it work. Going into business for yourself can be incredibly rewarding because you get to do something that you love or that really interests you. And because it’s your business, you get to reap the rewards all for yourself. So, go for it!