Running your own enterprise can be very rewarding, but you need to think about the risks involved and minimise these as much as possible in order to give your business a chance of succeeding and growing. This requires planning.
So what’s your idea?
- Does your idea have longevity, or will your product or service have to adapt to a constantly changing marketplace?
- Is it realistic?
- How will you grow your business?
- Will you make money?
What about you?
- Do you really want to do this?
- Are you able to run your own business?
- Do you have the necessary skills to run a business? Remember that these skills will not only consist of the technical or commercial skills needed to develop your idea or product, but also financial and marketing skills.
- Do you have the time to run your own business? The daily 9-5 grind may seem unappealing, but most business owners work considerably more than this.
- Are you self motivated enough to sustain a business?
- Is funding in place? If not, where will you get it, and can you afford it?
You will need not only the technical skills related to your product or service but also the financial skills to maintain control and selling skills to generate business. Being self employed requires tremendous commitment. Consider what your training needs might be and think about researching short courses that might be useful.
If you don’t have a market your business will fail, in fact it won’t even start in the first place!
- Do you have a market for your idea?
- How will you reach your market?
- Do you know who your customers will be and are there lots of them?
- Will you be able to get more of them in the future?
- Who are your competitors and why should people use your product or service rather than theirs?
Financial backers will want evidence of this market, but you need to convince yourself that self-employment is a better option than working for someone else. So, you will have to do market research.
You will need to have finance in place and be able to maintain cash flow. You need to make a profit that’s sufficient to sustain your business and its overheads, as well as your living costs.
- Do you have a financial plan in place?
- Are you sure that it’s a viable one?
- Have you ensured that you’ve minimised overheads?
- Do you need to buy or rent equipment, and/or premises?
- What about staff costs – will you be a sole operator or do you need other people?
- Have you factored in marketing and advertising costs such as websites?
- Will you need to buy from suppliers, and do you have the knowhow to source the best at the cheapest price?
Of course, we’re assuming that your business is legal! However, you also need to bear in mind that there may be other matters that you need to consider. These could include things such as:
- Public liability insurance – will you need it and how do you get it?
- If you’re hiring, you’ll have to be aware of equal opportunities legislation such as the Equality and Human Rights Act and the European working directive.
There are all sorts of business models you could consider. These include limited liability partnerships, companies limited by guarantee, social enterprises, sole traders, franchises and freelancing to name a few. You can find definitions and links to further information on the following websites:
Graduate Prospects: self employment - More great advice from the UK's official graduate careers website.
A good starting point for current students is SIE whose aim is to help students in Scotland discover their entrepreneurial talent and start up their own ventures. Their mission is to help create new student businesses and social enterprises.
U-Hatch is an exciting new addition to GCU, breaking down the myths about starting a business, engaging and enabling our students to imagine the impossible and creating an environment to make it a reality. U-hatch will bring together experts from GCU and successful entrepreneurs, to support our students to achieve their ambitions.
If you’ve already developed your idea, then the next step is to get support with it. Entrepreneurial Spark is a business accelerator (hatchery) where start-up and early stage businesses are hot-housed, nurtured and enabled in an intensive 5 month business accelerator programme.
Whatever stage your business is at, Business Gateway offer a wide range of professional resources and support. All are designed to help you learn new skills, create opportunities and develop strategies for a sustainable business.
If you’re thinking about the franchise model, then the British Franchise Agency is a good starting point. It is a self-regulating governing body for franchising with information and help for current and prospective franchisees. It also includes a list of members and training events.
- European Working Time Directive
- Equality and Human Rights Commission
- UK Intellectual Property Office – advice and information on protecting your ideas and assets
- Intellectual Assets Centre – Scottish organisation providing advice and information on managing your assets
- European Patent Office
- Companies House – register of all companies in the UK
- NESTA (National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) – Investor in early-stage companies
- Vitae - information for the enterprising researcher (registration required)
Student, Graduate and Women Entrepreneurs
- Prince's Trust – advice and grants for entrepreneurs 18-25 years old
- Shell LiveWire – advice and information for entrepreneurs aged 16-30. They also run a national start-ups competition
- Enternships – work experience with small and medium-sized businesses
- Cultural Enterprise Office– support for entrepreneurs in the creative sector