What do you need to consider when starting your own business?

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Business idea

Whatever your business idea, it is important for you to make sure that the idea is viable, and this section is designed to help you consider your options.

What are your skills?

Very few people are good at everything! It's always best before you embark upon anything new to think very carefully about your strengths and weaknesses and be honest with yourself. A successful business requires sales, administration, accounting, and strong marketing, as well as the core trade/product/idea/profession. So what areas do you think you are strong at and what are the bits that you can't do? Draw up a list of your strengths and weaknesses to help you along the way. For those bits that you find more difficult identify local training providers, such as Gloucestershire Enterprise or use the GOV.UK business training finder, who can help you plug the gaps.

Are you going to start from scratch?

Doing anything completely new can be extremely exciting but also very daunting. With so many different things to think about, it can be easy to overlook something. The Setting Up section of GOV.UK contains a feature entitled 'Common mistakes when starting up and how to avoid them'.

Buy a business?

Buying an existing business makes good sense if it is already profitable or you have clear plans as to how to extract more value from it. Although the cost of purchase may be higher than if you started from scratch, you do gain a trading concern from day one and should be able get a realistic idea of the potential turnover/profits from the audited accounts. In addition, the previous owner may also leave you with 'goodwill', such as a healthy relationship with your suppliers and a firm customer base.

On the other hand, things may prove challenging if your ideas don't fit the existing business model. Also you might not get the same satisfaction from buying a business, as it isn't your 'baby'. There is also a risk that the 'goodwill' was of a very small magnitude and you have some unhappy customers from day one.

Top tip - if you like the idea of buying a business, over 30,000 business are offered for sale at: http://www.businessesforsale.com/

Buy a franchise?

Franchising is becoming more and more popular in the UK in recent years. This system works via the granting of a license by one person (the franchisor) to another (the franchisee), which entitles the franchisee to trade under the trade mark/trade name of the franchisor. Such examples include McDonalds, Subway, Burger King, Bennetton and The Body Shop.

The franchisor will receive an initial fee from the franchisee, payable at the outset, together with on-going management service fees - usually based on a percentage of annual turnover. In return, the franchisor has an obligation to support the franchise network, notably with training, product development, advertising, promotional activities and with a specialist range of management services.

Still wanting to go ahead?

It might be a good idea to visit the Start Your Own Business website, which is full of useful tips and advice.

In addition, a visit to the bank manager with a sound business plan is a must. Finally, if you need some capital investment, try the Fredricks Foundation for Gloucestershire, where you may be eligible for a loan at a lower APR than the High Street banks.

Some other useful information to help you get started

Make business your business: a guide to starting and developing a new business. This new guide is from the report by the Prime Minister's Enterprise Advisor Lord Young on supporting the start-up and development of small business. It showcases the wide range of support available from the public and private sectors and suggests helpful links and advice.

The Start up Donut website is also a good source of information for new businesses.

Try an Enterprise Club...Gloucestershire Enterprise have recently launched Cheltenham Enterprise Club
It is completely FREE and enables you to explore your idea, start your planning and understand the skills needed and regulatory requirements involved. It can also help you work through your idea and provide information about the risks and rewards of running your own business. To find out when the next one is and book your place Call 0845 838 9963 or Email businesssupport@glosenterprise.co.uk

And good luck!