Starting your own business can be an exciting and rewarding endeavour. However, it is not without risks. Studies show that 1 in 3 start-ups in the United Kingdom fail within the first three years. Many times this is because of improper planning, lack of business knowledge, failure to conduct market research or simply setting unrealistic expectations. The following is a general overview of the steps you should take to help ensure your start-up becomes a successful one.
How to Start
Most businesses get their start from a single idea. This idea must be turned into a product or service that people will want to buy. The following steps will help you.
Research Your Market
- Identify and talk to potential customers about their specific needs
- Make a prototype, or basic version, of the product and test it with potential customers. Ask them for feedback on the prototype
- Find out what potential customers would be willing to pay for the product or service. Try different pricing with different customers to see what people will really pay. This will help ensure you can make a return on your investment
- Determine what makes you stand out from competitors. Are you providing something better than or different from what is already available?
Develop and Plan Your Product or Service
- Test your product or service with real customers; make changes based on their feedback and test it again
- Continue to test until you are sure that customers will be willing to pay what you are asking and that their needs are being met
- Write a business plan to show the results of your customer research and explain that your idea for a business is viable. This tool will be essential in helping you secure funding and find partners
Find Partners and Suppliers
- You need to work with others in order to develop and sell your idea. Many businesses start with just one person, but consider taking on partners and suppliers
- Contact potential suppliers if you need raw materials, supplies or equipment to run your business. Get estimates, negotiate prices and develop relationships with reliable and trustworthy suppliers
Set Up your Business
- Decide what legal structure your new business will be: sole trader, partnership or limited company. Each structure affects personal liability, tax requirements and control issues
- Decide if you will be employing staff. If so, this may require additional legal responsibilities, such as health and safety compliance, insurance requirements, and licences and permits
Find Additional Funding
- If needed, explore different sources of funding, including bank loans, government-backed schemes or selling shares
Additional Business Resources
- For business advice and support over the phone, call the Business Link Helpline at 0845 600 9006 (Monday-Friday 9am to 6pm).
- A number of business training courses are available from the National Careers Service. Look up available courses at www.gov.uk/find-business-training-courses.
- Many business training and networking events are listed on the GOV.UK site at www.gov.uk/events-finder.
- For help in developing business ideas, visit the National Enterprise Network at www.nationalenterprisenetwork.org.