The number of UK start-ups has risen 110 per cent over the last three years. Emma Jones, founder of small business community Enterprise Nation, explains why 2015 is the year of the entrepreneur
Record numbers of people are starting a business and relishing the freedom and flexibility that comes with being their own boss. They are starting by working 5 to 9, which is the term I apply to keeping hold of the day job while working on the business at nights and weekends. It’s a low cost and low risk route to start as you keep the security of a salary with time to build cash flow and confidence in the business. Having joined the record half a million other start-ups being formed each year, what does it take to succeed? Here are my six factors for business success
Have a plan
From start-up through to growth, have a plan as to where you want to be heading and what’s required to reach the end destination. Call it a business plan or route-map; either way, it’s the document that will guide you to success. Of course, you can’t plan for everything and one of the great pleasures of business is you never know which opportunity will present itself next but with a plan you’re prepared for the journey and it provides the business, you, and potentially your team, an essential sense of direction. Review the plan every six months or so to be sure you’re on track.
Surround yourself with support
There has never been so much support available for the small business owner as there is today. Apply for a government Growth Voucher which offers funding to access accredited advice, find small business peers in online forums (like Enterprise Nation) who are willing to share their stories, and approach experienced entrepreneurs, as 20 minutes of their precious time could shortcut a lot of your time. Make the most of all the support that’s on offer from government, large corporates and your own peer group.
Be open to new opportunities
What do I see as the single factor common to growing businesses? They all have founders who are alert and open to entering new markets, launching products and working with partners. With more than one billion people online across the globe, often looking for British made or designed products, you could say it’s a good time to Go Global. With government having committed itself to a target of buying 25 per cent of all products and services from small business by May, it’s most definitely time to consider government as a client. What about heading to that event for a complementary sector to your own, you just never know who you might meet. The business owner who is open to opportunity deserves to do well.
It’s spoken about frequently, but technology has been a good friend to small business; enabling sole traders, micro-enterprises and one-man/woman-bands to get going and growing. Turn to social media to raise your profile and communicate with customers, head to the cloud to run your new enterprise from anywhere, and achieve all this on a budget that won’t break the bank with tools like Twitter, Skype, Facebook, Dropbox, Instagram and Basecamp. Test the tech that works for you (and your customers) best and then dedicate time to these platforms. Measure what works with tools such as Google Analytics, Hootsuite and Sprout Social.
In the fast pace of business, leaders are those in touch with innovation. Make the most of free tools like Springwise to be briefed on trends from across the globe, hang out with young people (watch how they buy/consume/communicate) and attend events. If you run the business from home consider co-working once a week and read, read, read blogs, newspapers, forum boards to consider how new technologies and trends can benefit your business.
Rome was not built in a day, nor was a business. Building customers and profit can take time, which is a struggle for entrepreneurs who can be in a hurry. Stick to the plan and get all the support you can, as on those few days when you doubt if you’re making progress, turning to either will show how far you’ve come.
Emma Jones is founder of Enterprise Nation, the UK’s most active small business network. Join Enterprise Nation to access business support for all stages of your entrepreneurial journey at enterprisenation.com
It’s a fact…
- In 2014, there were 5.2m businesses in the UK
- More than 99% of UK businesses are small or medium-sized – employing 0-249 people
- 5m (96%) businesses are micro-sized – employing 0-9 people. These account for 33% of UK employment and 19% of turnover
- Service industries account for 73% of businesses, 79% of employment and 70% of turnover
- The manufacturing sector accounts for 5% of businesses, 10% of employment and 16% of turnover
- 18% of SMEs are female-led, and 22% of FTSE100 board members are female