You have a business idea; a product or service that you’d like to offer.  It may stem from an interest, the work you do already or it could be something completely new.  Maybe you’ve always wanted to work for yourself but you’re just not sure of what to do.  Here we’ll highlight what you’ll need to consider in either case and show you how you can take the first steps towards creating your plan and making it a reality.

Where do I start?

It’s your idea, so start by asking yourself some searching questions.

  1. What do you feel you are best at? 
  2. What interests you most?
  3. What experience do you have in a particular area?
  4. What do others see you doing?

It’s worth talking to close friends or family as they may see you doing something that you’ve never considered before.  For example you might do some decorating for family and friends; could you turn this into a business? It could also be that a hobby or interest becomes your business, you have a skill that you just don’t recognise or you may decide to do something completely different.  

What if I have an idea already?

Great, you already have your starting point.  We’d suggest that you spend time firming the idea up. 

You’ll need to get to a stage where you can describe your idea to other people so consider writing things down. 

Start with the idea itself - what is it? Think about who else may need to be involved and what else you will need to make it a reality in terms of money and equipment. The following questions will act as a good starting point during the early planning phase:

  • What is your idea? 
  • What benefits will it have? 
  • Who are the likely customers? 
  • Who else may be involved?
  • What equipment will you need? 
  • Where can you get the money from?

 

I'd like to offer a service

You’ll need to consider the following:

  1. Location. You’ve decided what the service is so where it will be provided?  For example, a decorator will work in a customer’s home whereas a hairdresser can work in a clients’ home or in a salon. 
  2. Skills. You know what tools and equipment will you need, do you have all the required skills to use them?  
  3. Cost. How much will it cost to provide your service?  This is vital if you are to make a profit so try to think about what you will need to charge for in relation to time and materials.

I’d like to offer a product

You’ll need to think about:

  1. Where will you get your product? You know what your produce is but where will you get it?  Does your product already exist or will it need to be manufactured? 
  2. Where will you store your stock? How will you get your product to your customers and where will you store it in the meantime?  For example, selling through a shop or online
  3. How much will it cost you? Knowing the cost price of your product is essential if you are to make a profit so it’s worth negotiating the best deal possible without compromising on the quality your customers should expect.

How do I protect my idea?

Protecting your idea is really important, particularly when you’ve come up with something new and unique. 

The type of protection available depends on what your idea is.

You get copyright automatically on any printed or electronic media you create. So, if you’re a photographer your pictures are protected in the same way that the contents of any website you produce is.  You can licence your work and those who wish to use it will need to pay royalties.

Design rights can be used to stop someone copying the shape of your design and again they come into force automatically. Registering your design with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) gives you greater protection. 

Getting a Patent to protect an invention can be a long and costly process.  We’d suggest that you get specialist help from a Patent Attorney as there are many formalities to complete.

You’ll probably spend time and money creating a trademark.  This is the brand for your business and you’ll want to protect it if it’s something unique.  You can register your trademark with the IPO. 

Next Steps

Getting independent advice about your business idea

Even the greatest entrepreneurs have needed help and guidance from others at some stage in their careers. Here’s what you need to know about getting independent advice on your business idea.

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Venturing into starting your own business is very exciting, but it can also feel quite daunting. It can be reassuring to know that advice and support is available. Here we give you information on some of the organisations that can offer you support and advice for starting a business.

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