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Starting a business is likely to be one of the most stressful endeavours you are ever likely to embark upon, things you never even considered will come flying at you from every angle and how you react to them could be the difference between success and failure. Yorkshire Housing’s community investment team has been there and done it all before. The team gives Yorkshire Housing customers all the know-how they need to start, maintain and develop a successful and sustainable business.

Here are our top tips for anyone looking to put their ideas into action.

  1. Thoroughly research your business idea

You might ask yourself who wouldn’t do the research? But, it’s surprising how many people rush into their ideas with minimal research.

Whether you’ve discovered a gap in the market or you’re planning to turn your hobby into an income, you’ll need an in-depth knowledge of the sector. You can never do too much research.

The chances are that you’re not the only person who has had this idea and it’s likely that there are other businesses already offering a similar service or product – work out what you’re offering that’s better or different to them. This is your unique selling point or USP.

Think about your competitors, who they are and where they operate. What do they offer customers and how will your offer differ in price, content and convenience?

Make sure you know this before you move on with your plan.

  1. Plan

This might seem like a simple step to take but planning helps you make sure you cover all the relevant information that matters. You’ll probably have a very strong knowledge of the sector you’re going into, therefore it is likely you will be doing task that will feel like second nature to you, don’t get complacent though. Your plan will help you map your actions as you start your new business.

There are lots of business plan templates available but if you really don’t feel up to making a very detailed plan, you should at least consider and note down the following.

  • Your idea, including who your customers are and how you’ll provide services or products to them?
  • Your business name
  • Where you will trade from
  • Should you be a limited company, sole trader or maybe you have social purpose? This can be a complicated question and our business coaches can help. There are lots of legal details too and it’s important to choose the one that is right for your circumstances.
  • Start-up costs: make a list of what you need rather than what you want. Be sure to factor in a fund for unexpected costs.
  • Personal budget: how much do you need to take out of the business to live? You need to know how much the business needs to earn for you to make a living.

Our business enterprise coaches can help with all of these questions and make sure you get off on the right foot.

  1. How do I build a customer base?

How are you going to connect with your potential customers? There’s plenty of ways to find new customers but you need to think about how you’re going to build a relationship with them. How can you be valuable to them? Becoming the go-to person for your sector, service or product is key and you will find as they come to you for advice and to learn they will likely stick around to buy your product or service.

Know your customers. Where do they spend their time? Are you most likely to catch them down the pub, at work, online or playing sports? Networking is vital and in order to connect with customers you must know them and what they like.

If you feel this is a weakness for you, now is the time to start building your confidence and interpersonal skills. Our coaches often run training which includes these skills. 

  1. Overcoming loneliness

If you’ve always worked for an organisation and had colleagues around you, being self-employed can be a lonely place. If you’re running your business from home, it might feel like you go days without speaking to anyone.

Building up a network of support in the very early days of your business venture is important. Join the Yorkshire Housing business network on Facebook and meet other people just like you, share your tips and get support from like-minded people.

  1. Be prepared for the ups and downs

Starting a business can often feel like a false start. You’ve known all along that you have a great idea and everyone around you is willing you on to go for it. You work incredibly hard, hurrying to get everything in place for your launch, only to find nothing happens in the first weeks. The crowds might not flock to the door and the rollercoaster set-up period might seem to have all been in vein. This is normal so don’t to give up.

Being self-employed is hard work and often involves long hours. It can take you outside your comfort zone and make you feel like you’ve made a huge mistake, but, trust us, this is just part of the journey and you must be prepared for it.

Being your own boss can give you freedom and a great sense of achievement and could be the best thing you ever do. Be ready to hold your nerve and use the people around you for support