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Start a business

So you want to start your own business? Do you have an idea of what you want to achieve? Or do you just want to be your own boss? Or have you been made redundant and need to earn some cash to pay the bills? Or all of those?

Whatever your position thousands of people start new businesses every year and make a real success of it so you should be no different. It's just a case of actually doing something *now*. So what are the stages in the process?

Decide on the business you want to start

This may sound obvious but if you have no idea then think what skills you have. Some of the most popular businesses being started are around the snack, coffee shop, sandwich bar style businesses and franchises such as Subway. These are very popular because most people in the larger towns and cities go out for something to eat at lunchtime because it's cheap, convenient and generally healthy. Other businesses are consulting or even hotels !

Once you have decided then it's time to write a business plan.

Writing a business plan

Yes you really need to do this as nearly all successful business owners have a business plan and almost all businesses that fail don't ! Writing a business plan let's you plan not only your financial forecasts but lets you understand more about your customer, what they want from you and how to market the business. The document you produce around your business strategy and tactical plans is also essential if you want a business loan. If you need help then here are links to the most popular businesses being started in the UK

Now you have your business plan complete it's time to get business finance

Getting a business loan

Banks really are still lending to new businesses but the risk they take on is lower so you'll need to show your bank or venture capitalist that by investing in your business they will a) get their money back and b) they will make a return (ie: interest or a return on investment that you have decided). That means you'll have to sell your idea and prove that it's worth investing. Of course your business plan is your biggest sales document you'll produce but you should also prepare an alternative document as a sales pitch. This should include more detail on how and why your idea is going to succeed, some information on your target customers and your startup marketing and more information on you and/ or your management team.

Most businesses are based around people and if those people have a successful track record then banks and more likely to lend. If you have no track record then get some people who are qualified and introduce them to your business and your bank.

So now you have your finance you are ready to start your own business.

Preparing your business for launch

There is much to do before you get your first customer especially if you have to recruit people or get a lease signed. It's best if you prepare a project plan of what's required so you know all the little details and can cross items off once they're done. Put a cost against each then you'll also know all your initial start up costs.

Marketing your business

This can seem a struggle if you have no customers but don't worry. If your idea is a good one don't believe people will just come to you - you have to go and get them. Think about where your customers are and work out their demographic profile (age, gender, income, marital profile etc) then where they live and where they shop. Then you can target them with messages. If you have a shop make sure you have good window displays and messages just to get them in, then your shop and assistants can do the actual selling. Have a "sign up for special offers" book to take down names and addresses so you can email or write to them to get them back into your shop.

Sound good? If you have any questions about starting your business ask away in our blog.