Starting young in business - An introduction and guide

Assured Angel By Assured Angel, 5th Jun 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Business>Starting A Business

A very wise man once said "let no one despise your youth." In the news, there are stories of all the cruel and violent things perpetrated by young people. However, there are many young people out there who are trying to make the best of things. Business is the key to helping the country come through the recession and small businesses have a key role to play. Young people - who have the energy and drive - can capitalise in this area so it is important to make the best possible start

Starting young in business

The financial crisis has put paid to many businesses and jobs. With money tight and unemployment reaching almost record levels, especially among the young people (in the United Kingdom, unemployment is at its highest since 1995) Meanwhile, the number of people out of work in the UK has risen to 2,435,000 - its highest level since 1995. It takes the national jobless rate to 7.8%. Across the UK, claims for unemployment benefit were the highest in 12 years at 1.58 million.

It would seem that now is not the time to be taking unnecessary risks. Starting a new business is one of the riskiest things one would consider especially if you are one of the 18-30s looking for work. In the United Kingdom, the help given to small businesses - up until now - has been inadequate. Banks still remain inflexible and loans have extra conditions and interest attached. Banks have been bailed out, big business helped but it would appear at the expense of small business. However, there are opportunities out there to exploit and if you are young, you can take advantage.

Setting up in business as a young person (for the ease of use, the term 'young person' will refer to those under the age of 35- Sorry! can be a real challenge. This is mainly due to the difficulty in turning an idea into a business reality. Nevertheless, I believe that with the right amount of guidance and support, it can be done.

Before taking the plunge and launching your own business, it is worth taking a pause and thinking through your ideas and seeing whether you have what it takes to succeed. There is no denying that there are characteristics which a good entrepreneur should have. This list is not exhaustive so don't stress (breathe....). Furthermore, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to starting a business. There are those who start by turning their hobbies into a business venture; there are those who use their skills as a springboard into business. There is no right and wrong, but do consider carefully if your idea has any long-term viability. Some of the traits of an entrepreneur are:

* Passion and creativity
* Ambitious
* Motivated
* Hard working and determined
* Confident
* Focused

If you have some or all of these, then you are well on your way. Some of these can be learned/developed, so go on, I dare you!

Doing the preliminary research - the idea

Every new business starts with an idea. But more is needed if it is to become a reality. One of the ways to do this is to test it out on a number of people or in a small scale setting. When I set up a student quiz night in my last year of university, I made sure I did some preliminary research. I did this by just asking around and getting people's opinions and gave a brief pitch of what I was proposing. I knew that there was not anything like that on the campus we were staying in so I knew that I was onto something good. So that is what you will have to do. Talk to people, look on the Internet to see what other businesses are out there do - do they offer what you have to offer? Or is yours going to be completely different?

After you have done this, you will need to:

* Start writing a business plan
* Check if you need any premises (and any associated licenses to go with that)
* Check to see if you need to pay any insurances/taxes
* Look at how you will finance your business
* Get a mentor - they are invaluable

You may need some degree of professional help so take advantage of any support - lawyers, accountants, businesspeople, even family and friends (if any of them are qualified). You will be surprised at what you learn!

Difficulties and how you can overcome them

Experience (or lack thereof) - one of the main obstacles that young people face (especially those in their teens and early twenties) is that they do not have much experience. If this is you, do not be put off. There are ways to overcome this:

* Try having some work experience with a company that you love that does the thing that you want to do with your business. For example, if you want to start a catering business, then spend time with a catering company or even a restaurant. Not only will it give you useful insight, it will help you to gain useful contacts. If they pay you, then you have some money to get your business off the ground. Banks like initiative as well as cash!

* Get a mentor - this may be someone who started their own business from scratch. They have been where you are and will give you advice on how to overcome any problems.

Financing for business - this is the biggie. As a young person, you may not have assets or a track record. You need to think carefully how you want to raise the capital. Some forms of finance may not be available to you especially if you are under 18 (banks will be very reluctant to give business loans and overdrafts to you. This is because you may not be able to offer sufficient security for them) So what can you do? If you have savings, then that is an option. However, there are alternatives:

* If you have a personal bank account with an overdraft, you could ask them for an extension. But make sure you are able to pay it back

* Ask friends and family

* Sell some stuff - have a car boot sale, go on eBay and dispose of things that you have not used for a while. One man's junk is another man's jewel is what I say!

* Get a job and save some money

* Government grants - Prince's Trust and Shell Livewire are just some of the sources of funding that young people can access. They also offer mentoring and business support which is so important for the young, budding entrepreneurs.

* If you cannot access bank finance, then try Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs) which provides loans and support to those who cannot get their hands on 'normal' methods of funding. But be realistic about what you can afford to pay back.

You need to make sure that you have enough financing to run your business and have a profit. Be disciplined and have tight monetary controls.

Location, location, location
- you may find that, in the first instance, running things from home may be the best idea to save on costs. But you may decide to have a premises. Check for any deals and licenses available.

The importance of a business plan

A business plan is crucial when setting up a business. It is a document that helps define your business vision and goals as well as being a monitoring device to help gauge where your business is going. Furthermore, it is an important marketing and investment tool and, as such, should be done to the best possible standards. To see how to write an effective business plan, click here read my article on it

To conclude, it is important to stress the importance of networking and mentoring. Some people are put off by it because it is sometimes expensive, can be embarrassing and may be ineffectual. Remember that the people there are pretty much in the same boat as you and have the same goal - to make contacts and gain new business. Go with someone if it is your first time. You will find it gets easier. My last job was helping to run the family business and, amongst other things, it meant going to networking events and conferences.Initially, it was difficult for me but then as I got into the groove, I was able to relax and talk. I have managed to make some good friends and contacts so they are well worth the sacrifice.

I hope that this helps you budding businessmen out there. Despite the downturn, there are ample opportunities to explore. With a little support, hard work and passion, the sky could be your limit...

Business - The Importance of Networking and how you can make it work

Whether you are just starting out or are a seasoned business person, you will find that the old adage that 'no man is an island' is more than a cliche, it carries a great deal of truth. You must be flexible and open enough to recognise the huge importance of knowledge in today's competitive world. As I have said in my previous articles, knowledge is power and research is key. Research is not about just sitting in front of a computer crunching numbers and stats. It is more than that. It is getting out there and seeing what the world has to offer you - personally and in a business sense. This is where, I believe, networking comes in. You cannot sit in your office and be smug and reactive. You have to be out there, discovering new things because there is always something, like an opportunity that has been missed by someone else that you can take advantage of. There are people to meet, deals to make, steps to take and things to learn that will not only benefit you but will enable your business to grow. So be proactive and go out there, surprise yourself and others.

Networking with others allows businesses, especially small businesses to share ideas, experiences and information that will help them. Businesses should not only network with other businesses. Go to educational institutions (that is where the next generation of businessmen and women are whether they are 6 or 16); go to trade organisations and of course network with other businesses. With the recession hitting hard and people looking for the edge, continual learning and developing will stand your business in good stead when the recovery begins (plus sometimes you get a nice lunch thrown in for good measure).

The different ways that networking works

Networking involves interacting with others. Networking can take several forms. You can choose to use one, some or even all of them depending on what your business is and what works best for you. Some of these include:

Business forums and conferences - these can be online or done person to person. I find that Twitter is an awesome tool when it comes to networking. To learn how to you can use Twitter as an effective marketing tool, a good starting point is here. It will give you an excellent foundation in making Twitter work for you and your business. Furthermore, there are trade associations and Chambers of Commerce that hold networking events. Take advantage of them. It may be difficult at first but, in the long run, they will really help.

Bulletins and newsletters
- if you are not quite ready to put yourself out there physically, then signing up to newsletters and bulletins is a great first step to getting yourself out there. For example, if you are an accountant, find out if there is another one out there with a newsletter and sign up. They contain useful information that you can use, they will have contact details so that you can introduce yourself (well electronically at least). If you manage to build a relationship with them through this kind of contact, then you will feel less self-conscious when it comes to time to meet with them and other like minded business people at an event and that can only be good. I receive numerous writing newsletters. They are full of advice, support and jobs. I have been fortunate to find work through these and build up my client base.

Debates and discussions
- if you are the talkative type, there may be visiting speakers giving a talk. The good of this is that there are likely to be people who work in the same industry as you present (as well as those in associated and linked industries). You may even find a potential employee there, who knows unless you go. Through these talks and subsequent debates, you will not only learn a great deal but make contacts that could help you later on as your business develops.

You could learn about:

* New techniques/methods of doing things
* Any new regulations that you need to be aware of
* New products and research
* Training

These kinds of things, sometimes, cannot be learned from a book but from person-to-person contact. So it is important that you use these opportunities wisely. You may meet potential suppliers, customers even competitors but its all good because you are all looking for the same thing and working together and sharing.

When choosing a network or business community to join, you need to think of what you want. Do you want to know about training? Do you want general advice? Do you want to know about developments within your industry. When you have considered that, think about how much time you are able to commit or else you will not benefit from the experience at all. For example, if you do not have the time to attend functions, what about online forums and virtual business fairs (trust me, they exist)? If you are not the get up and go type of person, what about just receiving newsletters and participating in online discussions? There is something out there for you if you take the time to look.

What are the benefits of networking?

If I am going to put myself through this, it had better be worth it, I hear you say. Well, I think it is. Here are just some of the reasons why I think so.

* It can help improve your business (by finding ways to do things cheaper or better)
* There is potential to build your client base and develop business relationships
* It can develop skills and increase your knowledge (as they say, knowledge is power)
* Meet new people and expand your market base
* Raise your company profile
* Encourage innovation and discussion of issues affecting your industry

How much you benefit from networking depends partly on the events and the services the network partnership offers. But it mostly depends on how active your involvement is. There are those that are afraid that they will be too embarrassed or, worse still, taken advantage of by a rival. I think that the pros vastly outweigh the concerns and it is worth investing the time, effort and yes money into doing this.

So there you have my take on networking. Despite the bad rap that it sometimes gets, it is worth it. You will find it is more than your business that benefits and that can only be a good thing.


Start Your Business, Starting A Business, Starting In Business, Young, Young Money

Meet the author

author avatar Assured Angel
Talented and experienced freelance writer/ businesswoman with a legal background whose engaging, confident but professional attitude is reflected in her writing.
I have also written extensively (over 100 articles) and continue to do soon many subj...(more)

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