Everyone at some point in their life has thought about working for themselves. Being your own boss and not having to answer to anyone else, the ultimate sign of independence. So why don’t more of us make our business ideas reality?
The simple answer for many is lack of funds and the uncertainty of job security. Most people don’t know how to go about beginning their own business or the pitfalls that come with it, either. It seems like a huge task – but when you break it down into easy steps, it’s achievable for anybody!
- Common issues for startups
- Business ideas that require almost no capital
- Talk to more entrepreneurs
- More useful reading
Understanding where many new businesses fail will help you to avoid the same traps.
Lack of finances
Cash flow is essential for your business to survive. It is the biggest issue that small businesses face.
As income increases your expenditure also increases. Your overheads grow with your business – and this can lead to businesses unable to keep their cash flow cycle going. As the owner of a business you have to make sure you have enough money to go around while also paying your contractors, business overheads, and your own salary and bills.
Start-ups can start with minimal costs. Look at ways you can streamline your expenses – you don’t, for example, need to rent office space when you’re starting out. Many businesses operate entirely remotely with no office at all!
It’s easy to set up different instant payment solutions that accept credit card as well as bank transfer – so clients have no excuse to not pay you. There’s also no hard-and-fast rule that you have to wait 30 days for payment: instant payment is possible, so you should demand it immediately upon delivery of your services!
Securing credit before your business needs it is also important, as you do not want to be put in a situation where you need it but don’t have it. Startup business bank accounts often allow you to access credit cards and loans when you set up your company. You can also look at peer-to-peer or crowdfunding solutions, especially if you have an exciting product launch in the works.
Also, using an accounting software to keep an eye on money coming in and going out is always a good plan. You can link many of them to your business bank account to make it really easy to create reports – and even file your tax return every year. Save money when you’re starting out by choosing a business bank account that comes with free software, such as the Natwest account that includes 6 months’ FreeAgent subscription.
Check out our in-depth article about benefits and funding for the newly self-employed, too.
Poor business planning
Planning is the key to getting your business off the ground. Poor planning causes many businesses to fail in their first year, because they do not factor in challenges or pitfalls. No matter how good an idea or how big the ambition of a start-up is, if their business plan isn’t right then they are doomed to fail, or run around in circles chasing their tail.
Before you launch your business, it’s important to carry out thorough research by investigating your competitors, suppliers, and the various extra costs you will encounter in your new venture. This approach is the base for any successful business, and must be viewed as such, so the vision for your business meets with your target audience.
You can also access free business mentorship in your area through schemes run by your local authority or local Citizens Advice Bureau. These schemes will help you create a solid business plan – and can also point you in the direction of local funding options, too.
Lack of marketing strategy
It’s always difficult to figure out the best way to market yourself and your new business. A scattergun approach where you just put money into online or print adverts without thought to who your customers will be is like burning cash.
Keep an eye on your competitors and see how they’re snagging customers. Spend time to work out who you actually want to buy your products and services, too. This will help you target your limited marketing budget to get to the customers most likely to invest in your offerings from the start.
Now we have gone through the things to watch out for when starting your business, let’s have a look at a few that you can start from home.
Starting a business with absolutely no money is unrealistic. With some, like blogging, it’s not impossible – but a small fund to get you started will help a successful launch.
Start with a budget between £1,000 and £5,000 and go from there. Even if you only have £250, that’s a good start! Check your local authority and other places, like the Princes Trust, for more funding options to get you started, too.
You need to set up as a sole trader with HMRC. You are classed as a sole trader if you run your own business as an individual and are self-employed. If you want to set up in business with someone else, you’ll need to set up a Limited Company or a Partnership. Once you’ve done this you will need to file a Self-Assessment Tax Return annually, so keep a record of all your sales and expenses. This is easiest to do if you have a separate business bank account for your income and outgoings.
Possibly the biggest business model to come out of the rise of the internet is blogging. Blogs are like niche online magazines that people can read for advice, information and resources.
Anything from blogs about money, food, fashion or even just your life will find an audience. You can blog about absolutely anything so long as it is fun and informative. The incredibly popular Techcrunch began as nothing more than a hobby and turned into a $25 Million business. That could be you!
It takes nothing more than a laptop and knowledge to start a blog. Check out our article about starting and making money from a blog for more details.
Blogging is a slow-and-steady type of passive income generator – it’s a great way to make a side income. If you want to make it your only job, you’ll need to spend a lot of time building it up first.
If you have a background in kitchens or are just a good home cook then perhaps this is the business for you.
Whether you want to bake bread or cakes, create the next big thing in the culinary world, or you just make good wholesome food, there’s a catering business opportunity in it for you.
You need to register with your local authority at least 28 days before opening for business. It’s free to register and registration cannot be refused. You must register if you are preparing, cooking, storing, handling, distributing, supplying or selling food.
You’ll need to put some money into buying the equipment needed to begin this venture. A mixer, baking trays, bowls, knives, a blender etc. All are integral parts of a good set up for the beginnings of a successful catering business. To get a decent quality set of all these items you are looking at between £2000 – £4000, so prepare to put out some money before you begin. You will also need to remember your perspective clientele and market towards only them.
Remember to budget for the cost of ingredients, deliveries, and your time when you’re pricing your goods, too!
You don’t need formal qualifications to become a mobile hairdresser, but it’s wise to take some training if you can. You’ll definitely need to invest in liability insurance, too!
Set up your salon in your own home and your clients can come to you. You have ultimate control over when you see clients as you choose the hours you work. Instead of spending money renting a chair in someone else’s salon, you save money when customers come to your house. You must be comfortable having customers in your house and feel safe with them knowing your address.
Alternatively, you can travel to your customers houses. This means you need your own transport, so make sure to budget for that. You’ll need to build trust from your customers to be allowed into their homes, too.
After your initial expenditure for things like clippers, scissors and dyes etc., you might even need to purchase a chair, which range from £120 – £600 depending on the quality you want.
Advertise on local Facebook pages or on the NextDoor app to begin with as your clientele are going to be in your local area. There is little to no point in travelling farther as you will spend more travelling there and back and eat into your profits.
Once you’ve established yourself for your hairdressing services, try diversifying: branch out into beauty! From the comfort of your clients’ homes you can offer manicures, pedicures, spray tanning, lash extensions and other popular treatments.
If you’re passionate about looking after children, then you should consider starting a childcare business looking after other people’s children while they’re at work.
There’s a particularly large demand for childcare as lockdown ends and schools remain closed or only part-time. Parents going back to work need to arrange childcare for all ages of children.
This is a perfect business for stay-at-home parents, as you can run it from your own home (with some minor adjustments for child safety). You can work from other people’s homes if preferred, though this will limit you to one or a few clients.
You need to be a registered childminder and have an up-to-date DBS check. In terms of marketing your childcare business, you should outreach to local pre- and primary schools to advertise your services to parents. You can also partner with local nurseries to deal with their overflow.
Childminding is more than babysitting. It’s a regular commitment that’s hands-on. You’ll need to create schedules, plan out activities, and cater for the children specifically (be aware of allergies).
These business ideas are only a drop in the ocean of what can be achieved by working from home, and you may have something you are far more suited too in mind already. Just remember that you won’t get far without the basics; cash-flow, business plan and marketing strategy.
Now’s the perfect time to connect with other entrepreneurs who have started their business on a tight budget. Get chatting on the MoneyMagpie Messageboard to ask your burning startup questions!
The lockdown is the perfect time to get the groundwork in place to launch your business. Take this time to start marketing yourself, come up with that perfect business plan, send out feelers to see whether your plan is what is most needed or should you tweak to better suit the demand.
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