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Starting your own business

How do you start a business?

You have a good idea - offering a new product or service, filling a gap in the market, something you personally can bring expertise and knowledge to, and hopefully a business idea you are going to be interested and stimulated by.

Starting your own business and being your own boss can bring you the type of lifestyle you have always dreamed of, but you will need self-motivation, drive and belief in your own potential to be a business success.

When you begin your own small business you are going to be dependent on your own ability. By becoming your own boss you lose whatever security you had as an employee and gain the responsibility, but with it comes the freedom and empowerment. Your idea will need to become a profitable reality - find out more by reading our section below on writing a business plan.

Ways Forward

self employed mechanic holding tyreBeginning a business from scratch: The prime advantage is that you are in control of establishing everything from the offset about your new business - from the way it is run, the marketing, the advertising choices, the employees and management.

Buying an established business - You might consider buying a business that's already running.

You need to make sure that you do a lot of extra research on this option as it's important that you have a full picture of how the business has performed and how it will perform in the future.

In particular find out the real reason that the business is for sale.

Make sure that you take professional advice where possible and look fully into all the figures and projections.

There is also the option of buying a franchise - where you purchase the right to use the trading name and system of an established business.

Have you got what it takes to start your own business?

These are the type of attributes an entrepreneur needs to be a success.

  • decisive
  • flexible
  • self - disciplined
  • able to set goals - long-range and short-term
  • willingness to work long hours for little reward
  • capable of marketing your business and yourself
  • confidence to take calculated risks

Work from Home

Work at Home Scams - What to watch out for


How do you raise money to start your own small business?

A business start up loan can give you fast access to capital with minimal payments and a flexible repayment plan matched to your finances. Bad credit business loan.

Top tips for success in business start up

business womanMs. J runs a gallery and art shop

"I quickly learnt that the most important thing is that your business needs to be customer-orientated - I mean without them you haven't got a business!
The customers' needs have to be regularly evaluated - ask yourself, are they satisfied with the quality and price of the product and/or the service they received, and most importantly are they likely to return for more and recommend you to others?

To be successful I need to meet the demands of my customers. This means being flexible and ready to change things if necessary, such as the items I sell and the service I offer - the customer is always right!"

Prepare a Business Plan

This will help formulate your business ideas and be useful when you require finance or support. A business plan can help you to identify your strengths and weaknesses, and areas where you may need professional help.

What are you offering?
What are your profit aims?
What are your plans for the future?
Consider the development of your product or service.

The Product

Detail what your business will provide, illustrate that there is a market and any shortcomings of your competitors. For success you really need to offer something better or more original than your competitors. Your product or service preferably needs a ‘Unique Selling Point’ – an edge that will make your business the customer’s first choice.

Marketing
Analyse your customer profile and how you plan to sell your product - by phone, in a shop, online and include the planned advertising. Location and timing can be important.

You may need to carry out some market research - directly from customers and also using data and information from others, such as, business organisations and government agencies.

Financial
The financial figures need to show the expected monthly income and outgoings, and should predict the profit you believe you will achieve, and how much finance you will need. Include your budgets and ensure your sales forecasts are not over-estimated.

Management
Who is going to run the business? Are you planning to be a sole trader, partnership or limited company? You will need to decide the number of employees, business premises and prospective suppliers. Include the skills of those involved.

Risk Assessment
It is better to be honest and identify what can go wrong, so you can make any necessary contingency plans. If possible put an emergency fund aside.

Find out more about a loan to start a business

Business Loan Calculator

Your new business needn't start from scratch. If you have the money available or can raise the necessary finance you can look at buying a business that's already trading.

Grants for starting a business

Applying for a business grant

Getting started

If you're a would-be entrepreneur then getting a business started in the UK is much easier than it used to be. There is a wealth of help and advice available on the internet and offline from both governmental and voluntary sources.

The government is always keen to encourage more female business startups. Some local authorities can also offer business grants aimed specifically at helping women to start their own business. There are generally two types of grants - a direct grant or a repayable grant.

Getting a grant if possible, should be on every start-up's list of objectives, but bear in mind that there may be conditions, such as a grant being only available under specific circumstances. These circumstances can vary but may include:

  • Employment criteria - you may need to be unemployed or returning to work to qualify.
  • Location - grants may be available only if you are growing or starting a business in certain areas, such as rural or inner city development zones.
  • Business type and size - grants may apply to a certain type and size of business e.g. a start-up or a larger business needing to expand.
  • Use of the money - often the grant is only available for a specific purpose, such as new equipment or training rather than general business expenses.

There is also often a limited supply of grant funding available in any given financial period, so you may be in competition with other businesses to gain funding from this source. Finally, apart from certain small grants, grant funding does not generally cover all costs - you will need to match funding from this source with your own or borrowed money. There are also schemes that offer subsidised or free consultancy to small business owners. Check with your local chamber of commerce or development authority to find out more about business grants.

 

Let the buyer beware - Caveat Emptor

If you're buying a business that is already trading, you need to establish why the business is for sale. In-depth research at this stage is absolutely essential - there may be a legitimate reason for the business being on the market such as retirement or ill-health of the owner or there may be other reasons which the seller may not be so keen to reveal!

Has the market for the product or service changed or shrunk?
Has a new competitor opened up?
Is the business, experiencing cash-flow problems?

Are there any other and if so do you have the necessary skills or resources to deal with them.

Don't just rely on what the vendor tells you, check everything out yourself. If you are buying any business larger than a window cleaning round, it's essential that you seek out professional advice to do this - the earlier the better. All the major banks have dedicated business managers who can help you with general finance and banking matters.

For more in-depth help you'll need advice from an accountant and solicitor. In particular it's essential that your accountant looks at the 'books' before you agree to buy, an experienced accountant will often be able to point out potential problems that could cost you dearly in the future.

A business loan can give you fast access to capital with minimal payments and a flexible repayment plan matched to your finances.

 


business loan phone helpMr. T owns a garden centre

" I think its vital to keep the loyalty of your existing customers, rather than totally focusing on attracting new ones.
For my kind of business and many others, I rely on my customers returning regularly. I try to keep in touch by a quarterly newsletter, and I try to reward loyalty with a money off voucher or free gift, especially at times when I want to attract my customer base in, i.e. Springtime for bedding plants,etc. I also inform past customers of any new products I'm stocking.

Happy customers will be loyal customers and will bring their friends with them if you treat them well."

Find your repayments with our business loan calculator

 


 

Small Business Loans Team

Small Business Loans

Find a loan for your small business. Raise the money to start or expand your small business with a secured or unsecured loan. Find your repayments with a business loan calculator .


How to start a Small Business

How to buy a Business -

Let the buyer beware - Caveat Emptor

If you're buying a business that is already trading, you need to establish why the business is for sale. In-depth research at this stage is absolutely essential - there may be a legitimate reason for the business being on the market such as retirement or ill-health of the owner or there may be other reasons which the seller may not be so keen to reveal!

buying a business - handshakeHas the market for the product or service changed or shrunk?
Has a new competitor opened up?
Is the business, experiencing cash-flow problems?

Are there any other issues or problems affecting the business and if so do you have the necessary skills or resources to deal with them.

Don't just rely on what the vendor tells you, check everything out yourself. If you are buying any business larger than a window cleaning round, it's essential that you seek out professional advice to do this - the earlier the better. All the major banks have dedicated business managers who can help you with general finance and banking matters.

For more in-depth help you'll need advice from an accountant and solicitor. In particular it's essential that your accountant looks at the 'books' before you agree to buy, an experienced accountant will often be able to point out potential problems that could cost you dearly in the future.


Find out more about Women in Business | Work from Home | Work at Home Scams - What to watch out for


small business

Starting a Small Business

How do you start a small business?

What you need to become a successful small business owner

What makes a good businessman, is there a magic formula? Once you've sifted through the list of ideas for small business and chosen which small business to start, your success or failure can hinge on your personality and character.

Some of the top business analysts have recently come up with a list of personal attributes that should add up to being a top entrepreneur - add these characteristics to a good small business idea and you'll soon be well on the way to being your own boss and earning a lot more money!

Self-motivation:

To be your own boss you need strong personal drive and 100% confidence in your potential to be a business success. You are going to be dependent on your own ability. Starting a business is not an easy option, and hard work and long hours are very likely as you strive to become established. You choose how many hours you work so you need to be self-disciplined, especially if you are working from home. You will have to be capable of marketing your business and yourself.


Decisive:

There are many decisions to be made when running a small business and you can't spend too long pondering - from what to call the business to where to locate. There is no boss to shift the responsibility on to, and the business will fail or succeed on the basis of your decisions. If you know exactly what you want then it will become easier to get it. Responsibility can feel a heavy burden at times, but you will gain personal empowerment from working for yourself. Your confidence will grow, backed up by skills you will have learned by experience.


Able to take a calculated risk:

The top businessmen seem to have a natural instinct for a good deal within their market, and this is often due to the skills they have learned by their experience in running a business. If you have confidence in your product/service you will naturally put yourself forward for more opportunities. There will be times that you'll get it wrong, but at least you've tried and not let the opportunity slip by. Be assured too, you'll have learnt by experience and be ready for the next business opportunity!


Leadership:

When you start a business it's important to have staff who believe in you and the product or service they are promoting. Choosing your employees carefully is vital - you should organise proper training for your staff, create a good motivating work space and they will in turn provide a good service for your business.

A good boss should be around, talking to, motivating and able to be consulted by his staff to be fully effective.


Focused:

Having a goal in mind is important when starting your own business. Focusing on where you want your product/service to go will help you become effective at providing solutions to the various problems that will surface.

Both long-range and short-term targets are a vital to a comprehensive business plan - from day-to-day running costs to the future of your business, such as expansion and updating your product/service.You need to be able to concentrate on how to produce the best product, and who is going to want to buy it.

Your customer profile is vital in marketing - remember that every customer is a potential advertiser. It's important though when you are so focused that you don't become blinkered, unable to see any pitfalls.


Willingness to accept advice:

When you make your business plan it is important to recognise any weaknesses - be it financial or skill based - and to seek support in those areas.
Being open to advice and help is important, as when you are deeply immersed within your business it can be difficult to see the faults. Professional advice can bring new ideas and opportunities.


Flexible:

A business owner needs to be adaptable as work doesn't always go to plan. There are many things that can go wrong from delayed orders, low sales, production problems, staff illness, etc.

Problems have to be worked around and plans changed. This is when your contingency plan or emergency fund comes into play.You also have to be able adapt to the market and the needs of your customers, even if you think your product is perfect it still may need adaptation to make it sellable.

As the old saying goes: 'The customer is always right!'


Man working on business plan

Business Plan Example

When you start a business it is really important to put your plans down in black and white. It will help you focus and decide on your targets, development plans, priorities, financial requirements and profit forecasts. It should reveal any weaknesses to you and help you structure your business effectively to avoid any future problems - enabling you personally to make decisions about how you are going to run and grow your business.

A business plan is an essential tool to making sure your new business will be a success and to focus your efforts.

Your business plan, as well as being useful as an internal document for your own use, can also showcase your aims to external bodies, such as when you need funding such as a business start up loan, grants, are seeking partners or are selling your business. It will be essential if you are looking for a UK small business government loan or UK small business grant.

writing a business plan BBC (opens in new window)

Executive Statement

The first and most important part of your business plan should be the Executive Statement. This is where you explain what your business is all about and how it is going to fill the gap in the market. This is the opening and needs to grab the attention of the reader with the highlights and key points of your business plan.

Make sure you describe the type of profit you hope to achieve and the investment required to meet this goal. Some lenders and investors make provisional decisions based on the executive summary. The summary should be concise and ultimately interesting, as when you are seeking finance for instance, you must realise that your business plan will be one of a pile and needs to stand out. It is usually easier to complete this summary of your plan after you've completed the rest.



Your Business Overview

This is where you state what your business is all about in the form of an overview : describe your product/service and how your business will operate, the existing market and why your business will succeed, your business history, when you began or are planning to start up, the legal structure of your company and your vision for the future of your new business. Include the pros and cons of your product and how you will develop it for success.


Marketing

You need to show evidence of a market for your product or service: existing competitors, likely customers and the appeal of your product; how you plan to sell your product - online, by telephone, from your premises. Detail your plans for promotion and advertising for your new business.

You may need to carry out some market research - directly from customers and also using data and information from other sources, such as business organisations and government agencies.

Detail what your business will provide, illustrate that there is a market and highlight any shortcomings of your competitors. For success you really need to offer something better or more original than your competitors. Your product or service preferably needs a ‘Unique Selling Point’ – an edge that will make your business the customer’s first choice.

Management

Provide details about the people involved in running the business:

Who is going to run the business? Are you planning to be a sole trader, partnership or limited company? You will need to decide the number of employees, business premises and prospective suppliers.

Include the skills of those involved, their skills and experience, strengths and weaknesses of the business. A strong management team will make investors more confident.

If you are a one-man band stress your own skills and enthusiasm and your plans for the future, which may involve recruiting further help when you become successful and expand.

If finances aren't your strength then you need to make it clear that you will be taking financial advice from a professional, so provide details.

Finance

Provide details of your expected monthly income and expenditure, the projected profit and overheads and the turnover needed to break even. State the capital needed and how you intend to repay any loans. Include your budgets and ensure your sales forecasts are not over-estimated.

Risk Assessment

It is always best to face what could go wrong and plan for the pitfalls as well as the success, so you have an emergency plan in hand. So be honest at this point and list any risks involved and how you intend dealing with them.

Try to make your business plan clear and simple. If you want to add statistics or relevant data it is best to add it in the form of an appendix.

There is a lot of start-up software available which guides you through making a business plan and microsoft have business plan templates and business plan examples on their site.

Microsoft Business

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