Not only are more than 3 million UK workers looking to set up their very own businesses this year, but almost half of us are dreaming of becoming our own boss at some point in the future1.
Setting up your own business can be extremely liberating and gives modern workers the flexibility that they increasingly desire. On the flip side, the responsibilities that come with owning your own business can feel pretty intimidating.
Andy Fishburn, Managing Director at Virgin StartUp is here to answer the number one question all budding entrepreneurs want to know and shares what he thinks are the five crucial steps to consider when starting your own business.
Image source: Virgin Money
Is now really a good time to start a business?
Andy said: “It’s one of the questions I’ve heard the most over the past few years and understandably so. The last few years have been tough for everyone, not just the business world, so it’s completely understandable for people to be feeling wary of taking the plunge and starting their business venture.
“However, we’ve seen people get creative in a crisis and launch in lockdown – and so far so good. Where there’s change there’s opportunity, and despite all the uncertainty for business, the pandemic has led to a flurry of entrepreneurial activity, with start-ups springing up to solve new problems and fill gaps left by bigger businesses.”
There’s never really a ‘perfect time’
“Many people are waiting for the ‘perfect time’, and despite the pandemic offering up many reasons to hesitate, the truth is you can always find reasons to delay. At some point, you’ll need to throw caution to the wind!”
Over the past 8 years, Andy has seen Virgin StartUp help businesses flourish from founders they support and is pretty clued up on what it takes to set up a successful business.
For those considering taking the plunge, here are Andy’s 5 key hints and tips to help you set up your own successful business in 2022…
- Finding the right idea
“This isn’t as hard as you might think. You don’t need to come up with a ‘million dollar’ idea. Ideas alone aren’t worth a great deal – they often change and evolve, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself as that’s when things can go wrong.
“One of the best ways to ideate is to simply ask yourself ‘What do I wish someone would make for me?’. Another approach is to focus on something that fulfils a real need and perhaps a gap in the market. Spend some time jotting down problems that you encounter in day-to-day life. What doesn’t work very well? What frustrates you or is inconvenient? Once you have your list, think if there’s a solution that you would be willing to pay for. If there is, it might suggest that someone else would be willing to pay for that too.
“Whatever idea you land on, be sure it’s something you’re passionate about. I can’t stress this enough. Starting a business can be hard, so you want to make sure it’s something that you’re still going to have motivation for in 3 years’ time.”
- Do your homework
“Before you jump into starting a business, it’s important to do your homework. A business plan can provide a great structure to get your thoughts down and highlight which parts of your plan are clear and what might need a bit more work.
“Using a business plan template helps refine this process and will help you identify your target customer and competition. Knowing this will then inform everything else, from price point, what marketing activities are likely to be effective, to your unique offering.
“It’s important to focus on the financial side of running a business too. As well as developing a cash flow forecast, we also encourage founders to create a ‘personal survival budget’. Choosing the right business current account is also vital in ensuring you have the full flexibility and visibility for your business banking.”
- Think lean
“When it comes to starting a business, you don’t need to spend a fortune. It has never been easier to build a business from your bedroom, develop a brand and put it out into the world, than it is today. Lots of the best tools are available online and are free to use!
“Whatever technology or software you need to elevate your business is probably already out there for you to use, have a look around and get creative.”
- Build a ‘better’ business
“The drive towards more conscientious business has never been stronger. We know the world is changing, and that fundamentally, businesses need to change with it. Consumers are looking for more purposeful and sustainable brands to engage with, and start-ups are at the forefront of this movement.
“While it might take you longer to get up and running when choosing more conscientious routes, it’s the businesses that do, that will not only survive but thrive in the future. Having a strong brand message and ethos should translate across every part of your business for it to pass as authentic!”
- Find the right support
“While you might start a business on your own – you don’t need to go on the journey alone. It’s important to have the right support around you to help you navigate this new world.
“A mentor can be a great start. While feedback from family and friends can be helpful, there’s no substitute for the advice of an experienced mentor who doesn’t have a vested interest in your business and can offer you a fresh perspective.
“Connect with fellow founders too! See what business communities are local to you and look online – so much more is virtual nowadays and it’s much easier to connect with fellow founders wherever in the world they’re based.”
For those looking to kick start their business, Virgin Money Business Current Account holders get a 50% discount on Virgin StartUp events – from Master classes, that help you develop the skills needed to build a better business, through to The Growth programme for those looking to expand.
About Virgin Money
Virgin Money is a full-service digital bank, serving 6.5m customers across the UK. It offers market-leading products and services to meet the full range of customers’ retail and business banking needs. Virgin Money aims to provide a consistently world-class experience for customers through its leading technology platform, telephone banking and a national network of creative stores and business banking centres. By making banking better, Virgin Money seeks to deliver on its purpose of ‘Making you happier about money’.