hand with chalk after drawing lightbulbs

Bill Gates and Kim Kardashian; Lord Alan Sugar and Katie Price – now, on the surface these may appear like odd couplings but scratch a bit deeper and their entrepreneurial link is pretty epic!  All four of these iconic stars have set up a business or two that have amassed mega-bucks. And it appears they’re not alone! Figures show that an astonishing 52,000 young people set up companies while at university and one in five 18-34 year old has a business idea.

With The Chancellor making a huge u-turn on National Insurance tax hike, what better time to turn that business plan that you so often talk about down the pub into reality?

While we can’t provide you with that genius idea that will set you on your way, we can help how you go about it. So here are ten top tips to starting your own business:

  • Be original. You need to spot a gap in the market. The best ideas often come from little things that people notice are missing in everyday life. Think of James Dyson – he only invented his vacuum cleaner because he was frustrated with his old-fashioned Hoover losing suction as the bag became clogged with dust.
  • Don’t be afraid to fail. As Bill Gates recognises, most of the best lessons are learnt from things that go wrong, not right. “It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”
  • Find a mentor having somebody to champion you, and who you go to for advice, is invaluable.
  • Assess your market and create a small business plan. Next step – create a budget – and ensure you have enough cash to keep you going for a while.
  • Start networking shamelessly. You might not like the idea, but anybody starting their own business needs to be willing to network.
  • Tell your story well. So much of raising money or selling the idea is telling your story convincingly. This is why Dragon’s den is such a popular TV show. Don’t go into a bank/potential investor unprepared. Practice and practice again, and tell you story as well as clearly as possible. Can you explain your pitch in 25 words? And remember to tell it on social media.
  • Consider crowdfunding to raise cash. Do some research into the two types of crowdfunding – debt crowdfunding (which pulls together people to contribute to a loan) and equity crowdfunding (which lets you raise money by offering a stake in your business in return for investment).
  • Don’t quit your day job immediately. If you’re worried that you’re not going to be able to survive financially, and you’re lucky enough to have regular money coming in, don’t give it all up when you have your first entrepreneurial brainwave. Your job might help finance your dream project.
  • If you do fail, don’t give up. Most first businesses do fail. But that does not mean a) the idea wasn’t good and b) you won’t succeed in future. Try and try again. As that bright spark Thomas Edison, who invented the electric light bulb said: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
  • Have fun. Starting a business is hard work – it involves long hours but it should also be something you enjoy. One of the most important things is to choose an area to work in that you have a passion for. As that smart old chap Confucius said: “Choose a job that you like, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

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