Setting up a new business is, potentially, a life-changing decision and can be an exciting step. Many new businesses, however, don’t manage to survive the first few years and it is important to understand why that can happen to give your idea a fighting chance.
The ones that do both survive and then prosper tend to be those who have identified both a market need for a particular product or service and those who have the honed their skills and ability to provide their range of products or services. In order to assess if you have the right combination, try asking yourself the following questions:-
1. Do I have the necessary skills?
You need to be able to offer a high quality of goods and or services and that usually requires some level of skill. If not, be honest with yourself and consider taking up training before embarking on your business start-up.
2. Can I identify an opportunity from my current work or occupation?
Demand from some customers may not be being met, so an opportunity has arisen. What is missing from the service offering? Where is the gap?
3. Could I join with others to offer a wider range of services?
For example, someone skilled in electrics could join forces with a plumber and offer a more comprehensive service to estate agents and landlords, a hair dresser could link with a beautician to offer a full pampering package. Who do you know who has skills that compliment yours?
4. Could I turn my hobby into a business?
Skills do not have to be work related, they can come from a hobby or personal interest. Have people started to take an interest in what you are doing as a hobby? Would they be prepared to pay for it?
5. Could I run my business from home?
This keeps costs low and may enable a business to become established before taking on specialist or costly premises. If not, what premises would I need and do I have the finances to take them on?
6. Is there a local demand for my offering?
It is essential that you undertake market research before diving into business. It is the best way to understand your competition, customers and place in the market.
7. Are there any local incentives to support new businesses?
It is always useful to be able to access advice and training when setting up a new business (The Women’s Organisation offer some courses and one to one advice to women in Merseyside as part of the Enterprise Hub programme). Getting support can help you understand your key responsibilities when setting up a business and can help you to find out about routes to finance.
8. Have I tried out my ideas with friends and family?
This is a good way of ‘testing the market’ before ‘taking the plunge’. Ask them for brutal feedback though, as people who love you will want to encourage you and might not be as harsh as those you don't know. Once you have their feedback branch out and look for additional feedback elsewhere.
9. Can I provide something ‘natural’ or ‘eco-friendly’?
This is an area that is currently growing in popularity so it could be a good opportunity.
10. What about finance?
It is important to be realistic about the costs involved in starting your business. Do you have savings you can use to finance your start? If not then you will need to look at your finance options. Lenders will want to see a robust business plan, so it is worth getting some advice on what finance options are available and how to create a business plan that ticks all the boxes for the financier.
Running your own business takes a lot of drive and commitment to make it a success. If you would like some support to evaluate the viability of your idea, develop a business plan and understand how to market your service then get in touch with The Women's Organisation. Contact our team on 0151 706 8111 or firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment with one of our business advisers who can guide you through the process of starting a business.
by John Jones, Business Growth Adviser
by John Jones, Business Growth Adviser