Advice for start-ups

12 Dec 2019


Advice for start-ups

At the end of the year, many people take the time to assess their career and their life and decide whether or not they want to make changes. If you’re one of the many trying to work out if this is the right time to go it alone and set up your own small business, there is a lot to consider. We’ve pulled together some of the less obvious online advice for start-up companies and hope it will help you decide.

Is this really right for me?

Many people dream of setting up their own business, but going it alone isn’t necessarily the right thing for everyone. So, it’s a good idea to not only ask yourself if it’s the right thing for you, but also to get advice from those around you. If you have family responsibilities, it’s especially important to include them in your decision process, but ask friends and trusted colleagues for their honest opinions as well and gauge their reaction to your plans – are they enthusiastic about your idea? If not, ask them what their concerns for you are.

Is there a market for my idea?

Is your idea for running your own business a result of wanting to do something you enjoy for a living, or to provide a solution for people? There’s no point in setting up, for example, a cake-making business if there are already lots of cake makers in your area because there won’t be enough business to go around. Better to find a niche market that will provide you with enough work to earn a good living. So, to make a good start, either set up your cake-making business in an area where there aren’t any other bakers, or find a specialism that no-one else in the area provides but for which there is potential for a demand.

Ask for help

You already know everything you need to know about your products or services, but you won’t know enough about running a small company. That’s OK. In a large company, there’s a whole team of specialists concentrating on what they’re good at, but small-business people have to learn how to do virtually everything for themselves! It’s going to be hard, but don’t be afraid to ask for help – there are many organisations that have been set up especially to advise new entrepreneurs, and asking for expert help will end up being a lot quicker and less painful than learning from your own mistakes! A good place to start looking is the government’s Business is Great website which has a list of organisations you can turn to, or look at specialist advice websites such as SmallBusiness.co.uk.

Listen to advice

You will be given a lot of advice by a lot of people, and it’s worth considering it all! Not all advice will be right for you, but a lot of it will be very useful, especially if it’s from people who have set up small businesses of their own. So be open-minded about receiving advice.

Do your sums

Before you start, make sure you know how much running a business will cost – there may well be expenses that you haven’t yet thought of, and obviously you’re looking to earn enough from it to live on from the outset. So, make sure you know what your personal expenses are so you factor them in when budgeting for your business expenses.

It’s also a good idea to prioritise your company’s monthly expenses so you understand the costs that absolutely must be covered, and have an idea of costs that can be cut if you’re having a lean month.

It would also be a good idea to think about contingency plans just in case the worst happens. How long can you survive if you don’t get any clients or customers – a month? Two months? Think about how long you could eke out your savings, where you might be able to cut costs, and what the essentials are – for instance, if your business relies on you having a car or van, what would happen if your vehicle breaks down, is involved in an accident or stolen? If you have a contingency plan for all eventualities, you won’t need to panic if the worst does happen.

Be prepared to do two jobs for a while

If you’re anticipating a slow start to your business, it may well be a good idea for you to continue in your current job while you build things up. Talk to your bosses to see if they’d let you go part-time, which will allow them to continue benefiting from your skills and experience at the same time as you’re preparing to launch on your own. It’ll be hard work, but is a good safety net.

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