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Planning

Taking the leap

Taking the leap and starting your own business.

There is no doubt that starting your own business is a big decision. Whilst many people have great ideas for a business, only a small percentage actually start out on their own. This is because there are a large number of risks involved in starting your own business. From financial risks to those of security and the consequences of failure, there are numerous factors that you must consider before starting off. Such risks can be seen in a large number of new businesses that fail each year in the UK. Whilst many such businesses will often have great products and ideas, only a small percentage will actually go on to become high-turnover companies.

To help you get the best start possible, we have put together the following tips designed to let you know what is involved and what you can do to improve the chances of your business becoming a success.

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Know your stuff

It may seem obvious, but if you are going to start your own business, it is important that you know everything you can about it. You must, therefore, research the sector you wish to operate in, look at potential clients, identify your strengths and of course learn about your competition. Doing this will give you a much better chance of succeeding over the long term. Once you have done your research, you will be in a better position to create a realistic and effective business plan. This does not mean you are expected to become an expert in all areas. However, the more you know, the more you will be able to sell your ideas and vision to others. Being passionate about what you are doing is half the battle – love what you are doing, and the rest should come naturally.

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Make the leap

Once you have done your research, identified your strengths and have a clear understanding of what you need to do to succeed, you are ready to take your first risk – that of starting your own business. All businesses, of course, have the potential to fail. However, if you have done your research and believe in yourself and your business, you can make it. Starting your own business is a bit like taking a leap of faith, you must have faith in yourself and your abilities if you are to succeed. By working hard and knowing your stuff, you will be giving yourself a much better chance of succeeding. Whilst you will be expected to take risks, this doesn’t mean you have to be reckless. By taking calculated risks that take into account all factors, you will be able to reduce risk and increase your chances of succeeding.

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Be competitive

It is often not enough to simply know that your competitors exist. You must be prepared to take these on in order to succeed. If you believe you offer a better product/service, then tell people so. Do not be afraid to take on your competitors just because they are bigger and more established. Customers often do not care about such issues, and if you are offering something that is an improvement on others, they will want to know about it. Doing your research and understanding your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses will make it much easier for you to then exploit these to your own benefit. Of course, this doesn’t mean acting in an underhand manner. Rather, you are simply looking at what they are not offering and providing this service to customers who want it. Such business practices are what capitalism is based on. When looking at your competitors, remember, it is highly likely that they have or will be doing exactly the same to you.

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Make use of the internet

There is no doubting that technology has changed virtually every aspect of modern business. This can come in many forms and knowing what these will help you better take advantage of them. Firstly, with so much information now available on the internet, you would be foolish to ignore it. Once exclusively found in expensive business schools, there is now a wealth of information for entrepreneurs looking to set up their first business. From blogs and webinars to online education courses and government resources, you can now get expert advice, often completely free. Other valuable resources will include advice regarding your legal and tax requirements, as well as any available funding, such as grants for new businesses. Not only will you be learning more, but you will also be saving money with the knowledge you gain. Furthermore, such online resources are often two-way. This means if you have a specific question, you can ask this online – enabling you to see a variety of views and answers, and perhaps helping you find the solution you need.

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Unique selling point

When starting out, it is important to know what your Unique Selling Point (USP) is. This is what you believe will stand your business out from others, what sets you apart, what will help your business become a success. Your USP can take many forms, be it your experience, your staff, the market you operate in or the types of clients you deal with. Being clear about your USP is vital, and you really need to be clear about this before anything else. Knowing your USP will enable you to then create a business plan that makes the best use of this – helping you to make a niche in your targeted area and working your way to becoming a market leader.

Surviving the initial storm

How to survive the initial storm when starting your own business.

Perhaps the biggest initial stress for most when starting a business is finance. Suddenly you’re responsible for your own finances, no longer relying on a monthly salary from an employer. This can be very daunting to many, and often takes a while to adjust to. Furthermore, when operating your own business, you will likely be responsible for the livelihoods of others. This alone can be very stressful and will alter how you look at your business and the decisions you will have to make.

Understanding this, we have put together the following tips. These tips are designed to help you better survive during the initial, scary stage of your business – not only helping you to reduce stress but also avoid some common pitfalls and give your business the best chance of succeeding.

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Get a routine

When working for yourself it’s easy to become distracted. Suddenly finding yourself with lots of time on your hands will, of course, feel great at first. However, enjoy it too much and you may find yourself forgetting that this free time is actually when you are supposed to be working. Another common problem is the opposite – that of you working too much and becoming burnt out. Both are just as fatal to new businesses and therefore should be avoided at all costs. The trick is striking a balance between the two.

If you are working at home, set aside an area in which you can sit down and work for a set period of time without distraction. Doing this every day will give your day structure and enable you to find a balance between when you should be working and when you should be relaxing. Knowing when to switch between the two is important and will help you more easily distinguish between the two. Of course, working for yourself will mean you can be flexible in setting such working periods, and this is a huge benefit to most. However, it should never be forgotten that you are now the boss and therefore you will only get out of your business what you put into it.

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Be careful with your finances

When starting out on your own, there will, of course, be various expenses. Whilst it’s understandable to want the best for your business at first, you must be cautious and keep an eye on your spending. This is recommended even if you find yourself doing well straight away. This is because business conditions can often change quickly and without warning. By being careful with your spending and keeping a certain level of money saved, you will be able to much better survive such events should they happen. Such periods of high and low business are common for new businesses. How such periods are endured is often the difference between successful and unsuccessful businesses. Keeping emergency funds for such events also provides important peace-of-mind to you and any employees you may have.

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Don’t do it alone

When working for yourself, it’s easy to become slightly disconnected from the rest of the world. Modern business practices and technology now means that more and more people are working from home – needing nothing more than a laptop and smartphone. Many new recruitment agency owners will find themselves in this position – often working exclusively either on their phone or the internet, and rarely meeting clients face-to-face. Whilst this is understandable, new business owners are still recommended to get out into the real world and meet others. This can take many forms, from making the effort to visit a client’s premises, to attending a local event. Such interactions not only help you to improve your social skills but often lead to new relationships being formed and business opportunities created.

Ironically, such groups of like-minded individuals are often most easily found online – of course, you will then hopefully meet in real! These groups can often be great sources of industry information and help you to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and issues. Remember, there are many people just like you who are either starting out on their own or now running successful businesses. You can learn lots from both, as they can learn from you, and so by sharing information, you will be giving yourself a greater chance of succeeding.

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Don’t keep still

You may have a full book of clients and working to your capacity, if you are, congratulations! When everything is going great, it is understandable to think less or even at all about what could go wrong. However, as you will likely learn, business is unpredictable; one minute a client loves you and the next they are gone. It is therefore very important to ensure that you continue to market your business and keep your eyes out for new opportunities all the time. This helps you not only be better prepared for any slowdowns in business but will also likely present opportunities for you to expand your business should you want to.

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Good luck!

As you can see, there are a lot of things you will need to remember when first starting out on your own. From watching what you spend to speaking to business owners, there are a number of things you can do that will help you better handle the numerous obstacles you are likely to face when creating your own employment agency. Make use of all the resources available to you and do not be afraid to ask for help when you need it. We hope you have found the above tips useful. Remember, every successful business first began with an idea and a risk being taken.