Why should you start a business?
Running your own business has a tendency to take up your life, so it's vital to assess whether or not your reasons are solid. This guide looks at some of the most common reasons for people to start their own business, the pros and cons of each and the best path forward. For further business advice, take a look at some of our success stories and discover their reasons for starting a business.
If you really have landed on a great idea that satisfies a market need for a substantial number of customers, you have the potential to really fill a niche and establish a business quickly and effectively. A brilliant idea is also contagious - something exciting and original will interest other people, so you're more likely to draw in investors and customers.
Be aware that lots of people believe they have fantastic business ideas, only to realise there's no real market for their business, someone else has done it already or the product of their imaginings is too difficult or expensive to actually manufacture. You need to do incredibly thorough market research if all you have is an idea at this point. Every product or service has to fill a market gap and have ideally at least five clear USPs. Make sure yours does.
You also need to be very careful about patents and other intellectual property (IP), make sure your idea doesn't infringe on anyone else's IP. Check the patent database - is there any part of your idea you can copyright? You'll probably have to start playing around with creating it first to find out. You'll want to patent whatever you can so it can't be copied by competitors. But bear in mind most patents take at least six months to come through, and they're difficult to obtain.
Be very aware of the financial viability of your idea. Work through everything that would be involved in its manufacturing to see if there is actually any room for profit. You might think your idea is great, but the hard work hasn't even begun yet.
Don't go off registering your business just yet - taking your time and figuring out the details is your next step.
Passion for your subject
If you absolutely love what the business you want to start does, you're going to work far harder - which you'll need to if you want to make it a success. Your enthusiasm will also be very appealing to investors and customers.
You're likely to understand your target customer much better if you know your field well, so your marketing efforts have a better chance at success. But you also need to be aware that just because you're working in a field you're passionate about, it's not all going to be fun and games - there's going to be a load of admin and boring stuff to get through, which will take up most of your time.
You also need to make sure you have a deep understanding of your subject, not just a superficial interest, to make your efforts worthwhile. Carry out extensive market research, particularly into the size of your target market and whether other people like you would want your business' service of product offering.
Be your own boss
The idea of answering to no one but yourself will always be attractive, but in reality, the added responsibility and time it takes can be a far cry from the dream.
If you're going to start up in the industry you're currently working, you could make things easier for yourself as you'll already have the market knowledge and contacts necessary to make your business work. Just make sure you don't infringe any competition clauses laid out in your contract.
We hardly need to point this out, but the recession has left millions of people unemployed and unable to find a job.
If that's you, starting a business might be your only chance of making any money in the foreseeable future - but see this as the opportunity that it is rather than the last option as starting a business can be hugely rewarding. It also fills a gap you might not otherwise have on your CV - whether or not your business is long-term or successful, it will prove to future employers that you have drive, you were willing to broaden your business experience and take a risk, and you will have gained invaluable skills you wouldn't have if you'd only been job-searching.
If you're struggling to get into the industry you want to, career-wise, starting a business in it can prove you have the skills, determination, experience and commitment further down the line and open up more job opportunities as a result. Don't commit too much money to a business you're not planning to run in the long-term. On the other hand, this might end being a business you stick with for life - so it's well worth doing things properly. This will also teach you a lot more than a haphazard approach.
Make a million
If you start with a plan to make a million pounds, don't hold your breath.
While new people become millionaires everyday, bear in mind they have put in a huge amount of hard work. If your business hits the rocks, you are less likely to be motivated enough to steer it out of trouble if your sole intention was to make money. It's often better to find an idea you are passionate about. That said, making a million is not impossible - but for that to be your sole aim, you usually need to be someone who is very financially minded with a natural knack for business.
You may well have been showing signs of entrepreneurialism all your life - selling to kids in the playground; bringing coveted items back from holidays to sell to friends. You still need to approach a business in the same way as anyone else - careful research, planning, getting the funding in place and rigorously testing your idea before taking it to market.