Starting and growing your own business can be challenging but rewarding. To get your ideas off the ground, you need to research your market, consider your competitors and prepare a business plan. 

Checklist before you start:

What and who is the driving force behind your decision to set up your own business? 

Is it a long-term passion or do others keep telling you how good you are and that you should start your own business? If it is the former, carry on and take the next step in planning your future to become your own boss. 

If others keep telling you to do it, think carefully whether you are ready for everything that comes with it: responsibility, admin and yes – sometimes red tape. You must really be honest with yourself – can you make it work? What will it take? 

What is your unique selling point (USP) which will make you stand out from the others? 

Are people interested in your product/service? If you sell a product/provide a service already in existence, how does your product/service distinguish you from the others? Is there a gap in the market? Is it the right timing for you? 

Who are the competitors? 

Do research of the area where you want to start your business; is it located where you can expect a lot of clients needing your product/services? What is the current competition? Future competition (has another business like yours request premises/or want to set-up there?) 

Market research 

Starting on gut instinct is not a reliable source nor a substitute for comprehensive market research. Planning at the outset, rather than deferring potential difficulties, could be critical for your future business.

Creating a business plan 

Take your time, and work on the details. Where do you expect the business to be after the first three critical business years?

Create your business plan (strategy, business model) and back-up plan. Having a back-up does not mean you are going to fail, but that you planned ahead. A business plan should set out what you want to achieve and how you plan to do it. The business plan will help you develop, grow and manage your business and is also essential if you need to raise finance for your business. A guide to writing a business plan can be found on GOV.UK.

The British Library Business and IP Centre offer a wide range of face to face advice sessions as well as workshop and events to help you with everything from writing a perfect business plan, to funding advice. They also have several business guides which you can get access to free when visiting the BIPC.

Create your budget plan 

Create a realistic budget forecast for the next three years. What will the cash flow and profitability look like in the first three years? What finance is required in that period and where is it coming from?

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