Daneile Moore, Communications and Marketing Officer from the Leeds City Region AD:VENTURE Programme discusses whether the current climate is the right time to start a business and what budding entrepreneurs need to consider if they’re looking to take the leap in 2021.
There has been little in the way of certainty for many of us since last March, and that’s unlikely to change in the short term. So should you wait until things calm down and the threat of Covid has gone before you launch your new business idea?
In short, no! Change in our world is now constant, and in the world of business, challenge always brings opportunity. At AD:VENTURE we have seen enquiries for support with starting a business up by around 30% in 2020. The reasons for this are varied, but include:
- People re-evaluating their future after furlough or redundancy
- People wanting to take control of their own future
- New businesses opportunities have arisen as a result of the challenges the pandemic has brought (think home delivery apps, technology supporting businesses to continue operations, virtual conferencing, remote medical and healthcare solutions and even new inventions to help in the fight against Covid 19)
But you do need to make sure the business is viable and there is a demand for the product or service, which is true whenever you consider starting a business.
Here are a few things to consider when thinking about taking the leap into entrepreneurship.
Is my idea a good one?
Whether in a pandemic, a recession or normal times, successful and lasting business ideas always have one thing in common.
They solve a problem.
Does your business idea solve a problem?
Successful entrepreneurs see opportunities, not problems. If you have that killer idea, and you know it will solve an issue and people will be willing to pay for it, then you probably have the foundations for a start-up.
Founders who see their start-ups succeed and scale, also have a few other traits that help ensure success.
They make friends and influence people – Founders need friends. A trait of a successful founder is that they surround themselves with the right people. The right team. At the start of your business, you may not have employees, but you do need to have key people by your side. For example, you need someone who understands finance. If it’s not you, find someone who does. A common reason for start-ups to fail is mismanaged cash flow.
Having a strong network of people around you who have different strengths and skills can mean everything at the starting stage. These people (who are basically free experts!) can offer you invaluable advice and insight. You learn from your peers, and they will be honest with you about crucial issues. Look after them, give back when they ask, and they will look after you.
They embrace digital technology – This is vital, regardless of what the product or service is. Our world is a digital one, and to keep pace with customers and competitors, to market effectively, to ensure productivity and track growth, businesses need to incorporate robust tech solutions even if the business itself is not a digital one.
They are adaptable and look ahead – I’m going to avoid the “P” word in this blog, I promise. But Covid 19 or not, successful businesses should be prepared to adapt to changes and have a model that allows them to do this. We’ve seen the impacts on businesses who didn’t move fast enough to keep up with consumer demands. Who remembers Blockbusters? Exactly.
If the time is right for you, how can you get help with developing your business idea?
There is actually a lot of fully funded help and assistance out there for start-ups, and if you are considering starting your own business, you should take time to find out what is available to you and take advantage of it. It will save you time and money in the long run too.
Business support will cover things like;
- Mentoring and practical advice
- Workshops on key business topics such as marketing, website development and finance
- Access to grants and low rate finance to build the business
- Support with understanding and accessing a variety of finance options
- Help with recruiting the right talent
- Access to specialist or academic experts
- Accelerator programmes
Case study of a Covid 19 Start Up
Proper Oats was set up by former accountant and body builder Suzanne Ferreira, from York, because of her love of porridge. She started the company after her management accountancy contract with a government agency was cut short due to Covid-19 restrictions. She had always had a passion for porridge and was frustrated she couldn’t get good quality overnight oats.
She came to AD:VENTURE because she wanted support with developing the brand, marketing and scaling up the manufacture once the orders increase.
Suzanne said this about the support she received “It can be a lonely place starting a business, but I was not really alone because of my advisor, who acted as a sounding board. And you need help with some kind of direction, or you will run off in ten different directions.
“When people think of business support they think of funding, but the expert advice you get is invaluable. They have specialist knowledge in different areas, which would be hard to access if you don’t have the funds to pay for it.”
Where can I start looking for help?
These types of organisation will have details of the local and national support available dependant on the type of business you are thinking of starting, so ask the questions, and let them do the legwork. They already know what’s out there, and it will save you time and stress, and they are there to help you. You may also be able to access a dedicated advisor who can support you as you embark on your business journey.
Starting a business is going to be challenging at any time. You need a good idea, a strong plan, a lot of passion, commitment to put in the time and work needed and bags of enthusiasm. If you have all of that, anytime is a good time to start a business!
Just remember, ask for help – All good leaders do.
To find out how AD:VENTURE can help your new business, head to https://ad-venture.org.uk