Starting your own business

So you’ve got a great idea for a new business, but you have no idea how to make it a real thing? We talk you through starting your own business.

Girl in shop holding the open sign.

I must remember to put this sign on the door...

Worried no-one will take you seriously because you’re a young person?

There are lots of reasons businesses fail: bad planning, a market crash, even the wrong kind of weather. But ‘because you’re only 21’ isn’t one of them.

Before you do ANYTHING, you need to work out if your business idea is a good one. Just because you think it’s great, doesn’t mean people will agree. So, take your idea, and ask yourself these questions:

  • What is your business? What does it do?
  • Why would people want or need your business? And, most importantly, who would your customer be?
  • Why is your business better/different from any competitors?
  • How would your business make money? How long will it take to make any profit?
  • How would your business grow and expand over time?
  • What legal things do you need to consider? Health and safety, patenting, licensing etc.

Making a business plan

Once you’ve got the answers to all these questions, you’ll need to put together a business plan. This is really important as you’ll need it to show potential funders, as well as knowing yourself which direction you’re supposed to be headed.

The Princes Trust website has a great business plan guide and template which you can download and fill out here. also has a great video about business plans, as well as detailed information about how to get a business started. We really recommend you read all of this before you get cracking.

Getting funding for your business

Once you’ve got a concrete business plan, you need some money to get everything started. Read our article about funding your own business to find out where to try.

Positives of starting your own business

There are loads of upsides to being your own boss, including:

  • If it takes off, you can make an absolute shed load of money.
  • Freeeeeeeeeedom. You’re the boss which mean…NO BOSS. You don’t have to answer to anyone (apart from, occasionally, the bank manager).
  • You can create your own working hours and life that suits you.

Negatives of starting your business

  • There’s no job security. If your business doesn’t make it, there goes your job.
  • It’s a big financial risk, you could lose everything.
  • Starting up on your own means grafting. Hard. You’re in charge of your business making it or not, so a seventy hour working week is pretty normal when you’re starting out.

Why your business might fail

Sad though it is, most businesses fail in their very first year. This is avoidable though. Here are some of the most common reasons people go under so you can try and avoid them:

Bad business plan

If you haven’t followed the steps set out by the Princes Trust to make a watertight business plan, you’re in trouble. Often businesses fail here because they don’t do the necessary research into the market, or planning about goals and financial targets.

Running out of cash

Sounds silly, we know. But lots of the time, businesses only plan enough money to last them one cycle – thinking profits from that will pay for the next. But then if you get unforeseen extra costs, or don’t sell as well as you wanted to, then you’re out of cash. And can’t afford another cycle.

No website

So, yeah, obvious as hell but we live in a digital world and your business needs to have a digital element. At the very least, you’ll need a well-designed website explaining what you do. At most, it would be great to have an entirely digital business exploiting all those weird and wonderful niches the internet creates.

Photo of shop girl by Shutterstock.

Next Steps

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By Holly Bourne

Updated on 29-Sep-2015