Guide to Starting your own business

Guide to Starting your own business

By Ed Hanna

The notion of running a business and being self-employed after time in the Forces is appealing to many Service-leavers. Here are a few points you’ll need to consider before deciding if it’s for you or not…

The idea

Most successful businesses can be traced back to a single good idea. The idea needs to be based on doing something better than the current commercial offering, so: better quality, faster delivery or cheaper price point, etc. Without a good idea, you don’t have a decent starting point to build from and will struggle to find your piece of the market where already established businesses exist.

What’s your unique selling point (USP)?

Market

Marketing is all about communicating your idea to the right people. Your USP will help you to identify who you should be aiming your idea at for optimum return on your marketing resources. In order to do this you need to get to know your market; what’s currently available and what its strengths and weaknesses are. Finding a gap in the market might well make you a tidy profit. Think about where you need to be seen and how your message needs to be received.

Premises

High street premises don’t always give the prominence or results that they did in previous years (depending on the business). Bricks and mortar cost a lot to buy or rent so you may want to consider alternatives such as working from a van or your home – or of course, online.

Lifestyle

Although you’ll have autonomy, business owners, especially in the early days, rarely finish at five o’clock. You may find that not only are you the boss, you’re also the salesperson, delivery driver, IT person, etc.

Start-up costs

It’s true that you might have a lump sum to invest but you need to be careful regarding income versus outgoings and how long you can run, potentially at deficit before turning a profit. Cash flow issues kill businesses.

Accountants can be hired to advise on tax-efficiency and forecasting, which may be money well spent.

Business plan

A business plan should set out how your idea will operate and make money. It needs to be as thorough as possible since it will determine the confidence of funding and investment suppliers, etc.

As your business changes so should the business plan, taking in new initiatives and ideas as your circumstances change.

Funding

Naturally, the bank will want to be given certain guarantees regarding the safety of their money and will want to see a well-presented business plan that stacks up properly. There are alternatives to banks such as peer-to-peer lending, invoice discounting or angel investors. Even so, they will all want to see the business plan and your incredible business idea and USP’s shining through.

More:

For more details on starting a business visit: www.greatbusiness.gov.uk

Business Support Helpline: 0300 456 3565

www.gov.uk/set-up-business