Back in 2010 David Cameron, Britain’s Prime Minister, declared that “Britain is now open for business” while on a trade mission to China. And he wasn’t kidding – the UK has seen the number of self-employed rise by 650,000 to 4.5million in the last five years.
This means the self-employed now account for 15% of the UK’s active workforce, and while some of this has been borne out of necessity – it’s no coincidence the number of people starting up on their own increased as recession came along – it’s clear the UK is a nation of start-ups.
So if you’re thinking of joining the legion of UK start-ups, here’s some top tips to get your start-ups up and running…
Take the time to get your business plan right
Although you might want to rush ahead and get your business up and running, it’s important to get your business plan right, get a very clear idea of what your business is about and work out what it will offer, long before you do your first bit of trading.
If you think you can just ‘build it and they will come’ then consider there are around half a million new start-ups getting off the ground every year – so you could be up against some stiff competition.
So make sure you draw up a plan that identifies your target market, takes a look at your competitors and then works out how you will make money. Once this is done, you can sort out how the venture is going to be funded.
Finance the venture
When starting out it can be easy to cut corners in order to save money while you try to find your feet, but you can find yourself caught between the proverbial rock and hard place – you don’t want to rack up the debt early on but if you cut corner early on this can lead to problems further down the line.
So you can either fund the venture yourself – from savings, redundancy pay or some other ‘windfall’, or via the more common avenues of a bank loan with an overdraft or a business credit card to help cash flow.
Get your name known
Once the business plan and the funding is sorted, it’s time to get yourself out there and let the people know you exist – if you’ve a physical shop from which you ply your trade you need to make sure it looks appealing to get the footfall and if you operate solely online you need to get your website right as that is your shop window.
And no matter if you’re a high street trader or an online retailer, you’ll most likely need to build a website and verse yourself in the arts of SEO (search engine optimisation), PCC (pay-per-click) and social media management to make sure you maximise your potential customer base and build and maintain customer confidence.
Get yourself connected
When sorting out your website, don’t talked into paying through the nose for an all-singing, all-dancing site that could make a massive hole in your budget – take a look at other sites, make a note of what you like and dislike, work out what your customers want and keep it simple.
And once you have a website, make sure it’s regularly updated – you’d be amazed how quickly people switch off from sites that aren’t regularly updated – and try to provide a physical address and phone number as this will help to build customer trust and confidence.
Once your website is in place, you’ll need to make sure you’re constantly connected and so it might be worth considering a business broadband package as anything less might not be quite up to speed and might not have the security in place to safeguard against malware and hacker attacks.
If you’re going to be doing a lot of remote working, you should also make sure you have the necessary equipment to be able to do your job as efficiently while on the move as you can while in the office – this means putting in place suitable VPN (virtual private network) or cloud-based accessibility software, and if you need to regularly liaise with clients or colleagues you’ll need to set up conference call or video conferencing facilities.
And once this is all sorted, the rest is up to you…