Before you start

Make sure that you are aware of the reality of running a business.

Running a business does not suit everyone. You need to have a passion for what you are doing, may have to put up with stress, loss of sleep, and lack of money. Sounds great doesn’t it? The upside can be freedom, not having to answer to ‘the boss’, the opportunity to spend your days doing something that you love, to work the hours that you choose, and the possibility of uncapped income. But be warned, IT IS NOT EASY!

It is right that you should approach starting a business with positivity but don’t let this cloud your judgement. There are plenty of benefits but there are real drawbacks too and you should be fully aware of both.


  • Freedom/independence
  • Be your own boss
  • Work/life balance
  • Financial reward
  • Enjoyment/passion
  • Fits in with commitments
  • Control working environment/hours


  • May be financial outlay
  • Impact on benefits
  • No guaranteed regular wage
  • Long/unsociable working hours
  • No holiday pay or sick pay
  • No pension contributions
  • Added responsibilities

Are you the right type of person?

Thankfully, there are no formal qualifications required to run a business and anyone can have a go. The truth is only the most determined and hard working survive. If you love what you are doing or can convert a hobby into a business, you stand a much better chance of success.

Why are you thinking about starting a business?

Whilst some people start a business to make a fortune, the majority of small business people probably earn less than their employed counterparts. Independence, creating something new, flexible hours, and personal satisfaction are better, long lasting incentives. The desire to make money is not usually enough by itself to get you out of bed on a cold and miserable morning when not everything is going to plan.

Support of family and friends?

Do you have the support of your nearest and dearest? The pressure and responsibility of running your own business can sometimes result in extra stress and having less time for other things. It is best to make sure that your friends and family are 100% behind you before you begin.

Are your circumstances suitable?

Self-employment can provide a realistic alternative career if your circumstances make it difficult to find or hold onto a job. The flexibility makes it possible for anyone to set up on their own. Single parents, people with disabilities, the unemployed and ex-offenders are often able to support themselves without the need for benefits.

How much do you need to earn from the business?

It is wise to have a clear and honest understanding of how much you need to earn (after tax) to make sure that you can survive personally. Do not jack in the day job until your business can pay you the same in wages AFTER costs and a fair profit…that could take a while.

Reasons why business fail and how to avoid them

The most common pitfalls that you need to avoid are:

1. The market is too small
2. Poor management
3. Not enough capital
4. Inadequate marketing
5. Wrong location
6. Over expansion

Take professional advice

Taking advice from the right people will dramatically increase your chances of success. If you only take one thing away from this guide, please can it be that getting a second pair of eyes to review your plan is probably the one single action that will have the most impact on your chances of setting up a sustainable business… as long as the eyes belong to the right person!

Find/clarify your business idea and the need that it satisfies

Identifying an opportunity or spotting an idea is a great start. However, it is not enough to fall in love with an idea and pursue it. Asking yourself a few simple questions can make the difference between succeeding and failing.


Make sure have all the skills that are needed

Think very carefully about your strengths and weaknesses and be honest with yourself. You are unlikely to be able to do everything yourself – certainly not effectively. The way to succeed is to do all the bits that you can do well, then either take appropriate action to plug your skills gaps or get help for the rest.

Undertake any additional training that you may require

If you have identified gaps in your knowledge or skills, please do address them by signing up for appropriate training or by taking advice from a suitable expert in that subject (outsource or employ staff ).

Starting a new business can be extremely satisfying and rewarding but is not without risk. If you have a sound business idea, are prepared to put in the required effort, and have the resilience to bounce back from setbacks, this could be one of the best things that you have ever done!