When you decide to start up a small business, you begin a journey that can be both exhilarating and terrifying. You can be your own boss; you’ll dictate your own hours, create your own business strategy, and decide who you hire and when you expand. On the other hand, you’ll be essentially forced to fend for yourself in what could be an incredibly crowded and competitive market.
There’s no doubt that starting a small business is not for everyone. If you do decide to embark on this endeavour, though, you’re going to need some help. The world of small business can be cruel; many businesses fail within their first few years, so you’ll need to exercise sharp acumen if you want to succeed. Here are our tips and tricks for starting a small business in the UK.
Secure appropriate funding
A small business isn’t going to last long if it doesn’t have sufficient funding. There are many sources you can look to if you want to fund a business. Small business loans are available within the UK, so you can take this route if you are able to convince lenders that your idea is sound. Alternatively, you could ask friends and family to help you, or you could even look to a loan platform to provide short term loans if you’re not able to procure traditional business funding. However you do it, funding should be one of your first ports of call when it comes to executing your business plan.
Create a sound business plan
Your business plan is the cornerstone of your entrepreneurial empire. This plan will dictate everything from how you run your business to how you handle your accounts. As such, it should be as airtight as possible. It’s also likely that business lenders and investors will want to see your business plan so they can reassure themselves their money is not misplaced. A good business plan is reinforced with concrete information, but it also contains your mission statement, so it should strike a balance between forward-thinking ambition and pragmatic research.
Work on your branding
In the modern business world, branding is everything. If you don’t have great branding, other businesses will quickly swoop in and take your market share. Branding extends to everything from your graphics to the copy you write on your website. It should reflect who you are and what you’re about as a business; your branding should communicate to customers why they should use your services instead of your competitors. Design a good logo, come up with a killer slogan, and focus heavily on reinforcing these design philosophies in everything your business does.
Undertake market research
Without understanding your competition, you won’t get very far in your chosen industry. Try to see your competition as rivalry instead of hostile competition, and attempt to understand how they got to the position they’re in. Figure out whether you can compete with certain businesses or whether they’re out of your league (for the moment, anyway). Trying to face off against businesses much more established than yours will only lead to disaster. A good example is Amazon; as a retail business, you will never be able to compete with Amazon, so try to exist alongside them or within their ecosystem.
Put effort into marketing
Marketing is what differentiates many successful businesses from countless failures. While you don’t directly control whether your business succeeds or fails, marketing is one of the ways in which you can influence this. Social media marketing should be a critical part of your approach; by creating campaigns and partnering with influencers on platforms like TikTok and Instagram, you can market your product to an audience of millions. Traditional marketing also shouldn’t be ignored; paying for billboards or physical advertising space can pay dividends as well.
Emphasise your personality
Small business has a distinct advantage over bigger counterparts, and that’s personality. Your business can’t directly compete with huge conglomerates and corporations, but you can offer a much more personal and bespoke service to customers. Your personality and your business’ unique style is what will attract customers to you and convince them to use you instead of the bigger companies. That’s why your branding, your approach to customer service, and every other aspect of your business should emphasise your personality and unique quirks.
Don’t be afraid to branch out
While it’s true that small businesses should specialise, branching out can save you in a tricky situation. If you identify an area of business that’s untapped – a niche that’s going underserved, perhaps, or a product that isn’t easy to find – then you could corner a market and build a new demographic for yourself in the process. Of course, it’s still important to maintain the brand identity that you’ve built, so if you do decide to branch out, make sure you do so into adjacent markets. Don’t start trying to be all things to all people, as that way lies certain failure.
Understand and cover your weaknesses
It’s easy to get swept up in the exhilaration of starting a new business. If you allow yourself to get too carried away, however, this can mean you miss crucial weaknesses that could spell doom in the future. It’s important to carry out regular checks and reviews on your business plan and operation to make sure it’s all working as intended. Sometimes, a weak link can go unseen and unheard for a long time, but it’s still potentially causing untold damage while doing so. Staying humble and ambitious at the same time is hard, but it’s the mark of a great entrepreneur.