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Starting a small business in Britain
By Oleg Temple, September 2015
Assuming that the basic funding is accounted for, the rules for starting a small or medium sized enterprise (SME) are the same in virtually every European or North American country:
a) Deep, sterling research—a stitch in time will always save nine (thousand)—there is no point building a business on a shaky, ‘guesstimation’-riddled foundation, always perform due diligence before taking the leap. This is common (business) sense!
b) Tallying up incentives against the deterrents into a business plan, i.e. putting down your findings on paper and rethinking them—considering every eventuality, a thorough competition analysis, defining long and short-term goals and in general making sure that the business idea has been meticulously scrutinised and works in theory before trying to implement your vision in the real world.
c) Prelude to launch: setting up, i.e. confirming that the right network of partners and suppliers are standing by to ensure minimum delays and wasted resources during the seedling stage of the business, when it will be most-susceptible to damage by financial dry spells; scouting for an auspicious location; hiring the perfect employees, etc. Depending on your business formula, you may wish to investigate the local chambers of commerce and build business contacts through B2B directories.
d) Finding the best way to announce your arrival and promote your business, which these days includes offline advertising, e.g. through press releases and advertorials in printed press, as well as shrewd online marketing. Small businesses are typically on a short financial leash and are very vulnerable to fluctuations in demand. Unlike large companies, their margin for error when it comes to brand building and awareness is tiny, so quality advertising at affordable prices is key to their success.
This article predominantly examines a few programmes in place for IT and ecommerce companies in the UK, however, there is a substantial support structure for virtually every business sector out there, for example:
If you are in the import export sector in the UK, we encourage you to explore the incentives offered by UK Trade and Investment. UKTI is a non-ministerial department, which works with businesses within the UK to foster their success in international markets through exports and supports foreign companies that are seeking to expand their business into the UK.
If you are looking to open a restaurant or other food-related business in the UK, you might begin your research at the Food Standards Agency where you can find all the advice you want and poignant regulations you need to be aware of, before opening your restaurant, café or fast food outlet.
If you are looking to launch an information and communication technology-focussed firm (ICT), be sure that you have done your homework regarding competition—thousands of ѕоftwаrе аnd technology oriented соmраnіеѕ аrе based іn Britain. From 2012, Nоrth East Englаnd has witnessed the highest influx of new technology start-ups in the UK, оutѕіdе of London. Thіѕ trend is spurred on by Nоrth East Englаnd becoming thе fіrѕt rеgіоn tо have complete brоаdbаnd coverage. There are also several well-renowned universities in the North East of Britain that regularly produce leading specialists in сuttіng-edge tесhnоlоgical fields.
|The city of Newcastle upon Tyne in North East England|
However, the good news is that when starting out, there is no need to take the hard way and go it alone. There are numerous steps that the government takes to cheer on investment, import, export, production, construction and other symptoms of a healthy economy. Reach out and find the support structure that has been set up for your specific business. For instance, check if your business is eligible for public grants, tax breaks or governmental rebates. There are numerous NGOs and governmental bodies that have been established to help guide, advise and otherwise assist nascent small businesses—for example, Northumberland Business Service Ltd., which grants about 1,000 budding businesses per year a maximum of £1,400, covering as much as 40% of the cost incurred for work done by external suppliers to grow the company.
Companies in the IT sector in England, Scotland and Wales can take advantage of the Superfast Britain plan financed by the Department of Culture Media and Sport and EU regional development fund to help SMEs cover the costs of modernizing their broadband connection. The government has allocated £40 million to the programme, which runs until the end of March 2016.
However, you have to meet certain conditions to qualify for this public grant:
- Your business must be located in a pre-approved part of the UK to be eligible for the voucher. Currently, there are about 50 cities taking part in the governmental funding scheme, including: Newcastle, Glasgow, London, Oxford and Bristol, to name just a few.
- Your company must employ fewer than 249 staff or volunteers,
- Your cumulative public funding, received over the past three years cannot exceed £200,000,
- And finally, the turnover of your business must be below £41 million per year.
If you have point one covered, the other requirements hardly pose a problem to tick, if you truly are an SME business shooting for the maximum £3,000 grant. If you are in a different industry or location, you can, most certainly, find a support scheme to suit your individual circumstances.
Visit the official UK Finance Finder to seek out the government-backed support and/or finance scheme that is ideal for YOUR business. The tailor-made solutions include: business plan review, guidance and mentoring; financing, loans, grants, as well as other funding and consultancy options for small and medium-sized businesses/SMEs and start-ups. You will be able to customise your search by activity, location and enterprise size.
Never stop striving toward success and business will happen. So go forth, execute sterling research, sow new businesses and when they flourish, reap prosperous, well-deserved rewards!