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How to Start a Business

Papa AllAboutCareers always said, “If you can’t get a job, then employ yourself.” You’ve heard Sir Alan Sugar harp on about selling electrical goods out the back of a van when he was 16, with only a hundred squid in his sky rocket (that’s pocket to you and me). But, selling stuff out of a van aside, how do you start your own business?

Setting up your own business is no mean feat; it entails a heck of a lot of hard work and it can be quite isolating. It can take over your whole life: think more 24/7 than a cosy nine-to-five job. You’ll need a healthy dose of self-confidence, perseverance, commitment and initiative. Most important of all, you’ll need an amazing business idea, product or service.

Research, research, research…

Before you even think about doing anything else, you’ll need to research that business idea thoroughly. This means asking: Who are the potential customers? Does it satisfy or create a market need? What is the competition and how is your product/service different to your competitors? How are you going to make a profit? You’ll need to decide on a business model and find out what regulations and legislation will apply to your business. 

You need to crack on with some extensive market research. You should quiz people about what they think of your proposed product or service; ask your friends, ask people in the industry, ask the great British public or customers of competing products. You might also want to think about creating a focus group and researching similar ideas that have or haven’t worked.

Have a think about what your own strengths and weaknesses are. What skills do you have that will help your business thrive and what weaknesses do you need to keep an eye on? You might want to partner up with someone else who has some of the skills you lack, e.g. somebody with marketing skills or a head for figures.

One thing you’ll definitely need to do is to prepare a business plan. This sets out the vision for your business and it will be used to raise money, attract business partners and for marketing purposes. It should include a profile of you and your business, financial information and detailed business information.

Getting a handle on the finances…

Of course, you’ll need money to start your business. There are many different sources of potential start-up funding, from your friends and family to banks loans, overdrafts and private loans. Without doubt, you should get expert help. This could mean consulting an accountant, small business adviser or bank manager.

There are also a number of organisations aimed at helping young people set up businesses, such as Shell LiveWIRE and the Prince’s Trust amongst others. These organisations are definitely worth seeking out for advice and funding help. Always remember, aside from start-up capital reserves, you’ll need sufficient funds to last you for several months, so think about what you are going to live on before your company starts making money. Finances definitely shouldn’t be taken lightly.

So that’s the basics on how to start your own business. The work has only just begun…