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During normal times, starting a new decade can provide a moment of reflection for what has passed and a chance to look forward to what new possibilities may lie ahead. However, this decade shaped up to start like no other in living history. Any immediate plans for much of the start of the twenty twenties were taken away from virtually all of us with the pandemic world events which impacted on many aspects of life, socialising, travel and work.
Thankfully as 2020 is now behind us, perhaps we can reset the twenties decade again and even though 2021 has started badly with a continuation of the pandemic, there are green shoots and fresh signs of hope on the horizon.
For many of us, the enforced changes to our routine during the lockdown and the events around the world have led us to re-evaluate our life and think about what's important to us.
Others who may have been furloughed during 2020 or 2021 or, even worse, lost work on a temporary or permanent basis have been forced into action to make changes to improve their livelihood by seeking new opportunities.
Those who have faced enforced change to employment circumstances may also be willing to take the brave and bold leap into trying something new or starting a new business up themselves from scratch, is this you? If so you may have already begun to think about how you can build a new business, whether that is becoming a freelancer, sole trader or setting up a company. For any of these routes, there is a lot to think about, especially if you are brand new to working independently.
We have been through this process before ourselves, having started up and launched the Other Brands platform just before the global pandemic took hold and whilst there are plenty of unknowns, starting a new business can be very rewarding and satisfying.
It can be overwhelming at first but there are some great resources, services and platforms that can help you with those early steps of starting up and getting you going with your new ventures.
We have pulled together some of the solutions we have found useful in starting our own business up, which may also be of help in supporting you with yours. Whilst this post is written from and using a UK perspective we also hope that it may help inspire all regardless of where you are in the world.
Every business whether they are providing a service or selling a product is going to have different considerations so we have selected our top tips and resources that may provide help or inspiration for starting up a new business for the first time.
Do your research
Before you launch or start anything new around business it's essential to research the marketplace as best you can. A greater awareness of the landscape will give you a better chance of making better-informed decisions and help to reduce the chances of failure. It is vital to have a good understanding of who the current operators are, knowing where they are based, what they offer and how they market themselves.
Learning more about the needs of your future customers is also key. Where they are, what they are looking for and how you may be able to reach them effectively. These considerations will vary if your business will be operated online or in person, if you are providing a service or product and whether your customer base will be other businesses or selling directly to consumers.
Keeping your eyes and ears open to how others already in the market do things will certainly help you when formulating your strategy. If you can find books or websites specific to your proposed business read through these but also seek out online business groups & forums on platforms such as LinkedIn too as they can provide a good background.
Reading around more general ideas or concepts for business start-ups may also help with inspiration for yours, we have enjoyed reading books such as Be More Pirate, The Squiggly Career and Be Less Zombie as well as more frequent publications such as The Entrepreneurs series from the editors at Monocle magazine.
The more time you can spend on upfront research the better as it will help any new business founder deepen their knowledge and help with the all-important confidence we all need to be a success.
Plan your business
Many businesses struggle in the first few years of launching. This can be through several reasons such as a poor uptake of products or services, some fierce competition or from conditions and situations completely outside of our control like the recent and ongoing global pandemic.
So how will you make a success of your new business? The best-laid plans won't guarantee success but they do help add chances to it being achievable. Planning out your business model is key for a new startup. So to know where you are heading you need to ask yourself will your business be viable? Is there enough scope to monetise your idea to make decent revenue or a profit?
If you need to learn about the ins and outs of starting a new UK business from scratch or learn on how to come up with your business plan there are plenty of startup books to help you but for a more overarching view, the often updated editions of the FT Guide Business Start Up make for an excellent start point. There are also great free resources and information in the UK on the Companies house, HRMC and UK Gov websites.
Be prepared mentally and financially that your business may not make huge money at all in the first year or even turn a profit by the second year. Many businesses need time to establish themselves and factoring this into your business plan is key. Can you afford to launch knowing that the business may not be profitable from the start and what will you be able to live off and pay outgoings from for your home or work whilst your business is in the embryonic stages?
If you have a plan in place it can help you manage your expectations and hopefully further your opportunities.
Start small but think big
Whether you are starting a digital or physical business, spend as little as you can as you start your operation. There will of course be costs associated with getting anything off the ground but the less you spend at the start the greater the chances and the shorter the time you will need to break even or hopefully turn a profit.
Starting out small with your initial offering too will also help you to hone in on what works best for your customers as well as give you the space if needed to tweak and improve elements before you go on to expand or add on new products or services.
As you establish your new venture, how can you build upon your business even further and what is your unique selling point which will help to distance yourself from and put you ahead of the competition? Mapping out future goals and targets for your future growth and strategy can be built using planning apps such as Trello and rejigged or shared with others when required.
Once you have a roadmap stick to it but also if things don't work out be flexible and adaptable especially as the world can throw us some big or unpredictable curveball events at times.
The old phrase 'count the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves' runs true for most situations but none more so than for new business owners. Thankfully the management of money is helped greatly with the arrival of new disruptors over the past few years into UK business banking marketplace making it more accessible to new start-ups than ever before.
New business accounts such as the Starling Business Bank Account can be opened with a smartphone often in minutes and you no longer have to wait for an appointment with a business bank branch manager or pay huge monthly banking fees with its digital banking services.
Keeping an eye on the outgoings and hopefully the regular incoming revenue is super easy with online banking enabling you to keep your attention on your customers and refining your offering.
Network & promote
Facing the world with a new business at any time is a challenge. If you are new freelancer seeking to connect with others or an established seasoned professional who is seeking help or support there are plenty of communities out there. Groups vary in purpose like those who support such as Leapers or who champion remote & flexible working by building a multi-territory agile agency such as Hoxby. There are communities who come together digitally such as Sussex Digital helping new startups and locally based companies to promote themselves and network with others. There are also those formed in 2020 who have come together and grown out of necessity since the pandemic such as Chptr finding work opportunities for PR & Comms experts or localised initiatives in East London such as the Recruit Local Walthamstow group to help each other through some of the toughest working conditions right now for some communities.
Whatever your profession or interest there is likely to be a forum or group you can find where you can share learnings and overcome challenges together.
Rip it up and start again
We are still feeling the repercussions and face a lot of ongoing restriction to our lives. Despite this, perhaps some of us may have had a chance to spend a bit of time and thought or be inspired, exploring ways on how to recalibrate our lives, focus on new opportunities for new work and new adventures as we re-start the new decade again!
If you are looking to improve your work set up by checking out some of our favourite Office products to maximise your comfort and efficiency and keep your productivity high find them and other ideas for new business startup owners at #OBAA.