Many of us have faced work challenges due to the restrictions implemented as a result of the ongoing Covid pandemic, with UK unemployment estimated to be at its highest since 2016 at 4.9%.
However, 2020 is estimated to have seen a 12% growth in new UK businesses compared to the previous year. According to a study from Growth Intelligence, the pandemic resulted in more than 85,000 UK online businesses being established during the height of national lockdown last year. The fashion and clothing sector saw the biggest uplift in new e-commerce businesses, with 8,665, followed by manufacturing (7,129) and food and drink retail (4,156).
With the demand for online business set to increase further, business expert, Andres Perez, Director at The University of Law (ULaw) Business School, highlights five practices to help get your business venture off to a flying start:
Understand your motivator
If your motivator is to make your fortune and become the next Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos, then think again. While it is possible to create a successful business solely to make a lot of money, in reality, it will be hard work because it can often take years between starting a business and receiving any money from it – and along the way the hard work required is immense, and the possibility of failure is real.
Simply pinning your hopes on a possible pot of gold in the future is unlikely to be enough to sustain you through the difficult times. Make sure you have a good reason for starting the business, work hard and enjoy it!
When starting a business, the more passionate you are about it, the more you are likely to succeed. The reason for this is simple: you will work harder and persevere more on a business you are passionate about, thus be more likely to succeed at it. Often, the difference between an entrepreneur who starts a successful business and an entrepreneur who fails is passion.
Logic dictates that if you want a successful business, you should begin in an area that you already have a passion for. Think about what type of businesses or areas of business you are (or could be) passionate about. start by thinking about the areas, activities and things you are passionate about and that interest you.
Many successful businesses have been started by finding a solution to a problem, a gap in the marketplace, which leads into the next section…
Identify your key differentiator
For any business to be successful, the product or service being offered needs to not only appeal to customers, but also need to offer something unique. Being in direct competition with other brands which may be much better established could prove challenging, so spend time defining what sets you apart from the competition from the start.
Andres adds: “Inspiration to find a gap in the market can often come from looking at your hobbies and passions, to identify if there is something you could provide that is better or varies from what is already available. It is also important to test your idea on potential customers. If you have a food product for example, ask your friends for honest feedback before rolling it out to market.”
Do your consumer research
Once you have established where your business will meet consumer demand, it is important to do your due diligence and analyse the industry you’ll be entering and the customer behaviour within it.
If you have a website, Google Analytics can provide invaluable data on how your audience and customers interact, including what content and products are of the most interest. Other free Google tools, such as Google Search Trends, can give you a good idea of what people are searching for online, which can help to inform content or product development. Making use of social media to discover trends of conversation within a sector will also help you tailor your product or service to have an impact.
Do what you can on a low budget
Often, new business projects are started with little to no money, but you can achieve a lot through investing little but your own time. Designing a basic website in the first instance can be done for free on the likes of WordPress to establish a base of operations for your brand.
Making use of social media is a must in order to network and promote your service or ideas for free and get your brand known and start building your reputation, says Mr Perez. There are endless free learning resources available to help you develop an appropriate strategy, such as Google’s Digital Garage and Moz’s beginner’s guide to social media.
Design a business plan
Establishing a business plan is invaluable as it will enable you to identify the business’ short- and long-term objectives as well as an outline of how to achieve them. This can include anything from how you intend to promote your product, to investment in growth, and will ensure that anyone who gets involved in the project is on the same page and striving towards the same goal.
Putting together a good business plan is relatively simple and should follow a simple structure. Start with an introduction outlining the key elements and goals of the business, before mapping out the official business model and structure. Once this is established, you should include a review of your product or service and a breakdown of the customer and market you are looking to target, followed by analysis of competitors. Finish off your plan with a clearly defined marketing and sales strategy, followed by a projection of finances to ensure your business is geared up to make a splash.
Jersey Business have a wealth of online resources that includes a Business Plan template.
Know your obligations
When starting out with your own business, as well as establishing a good product, brand and strategy, it is just as important to make sure all the admin and legal requirements are dealt with.
Be sure to register your company, provide an appropriate name and address and swat up on what type of business it’ll be, such as a limited company or sole trader.
Once the legalities of your business are finalised, you’ll be required to set up appropriate finances, such as a business account, and be aware of which taxes you’ll be eligible to pay. Calculating the tax you pay can be confusing so keeping a record of all transactions and paperwork will save you a lot of hassle come the end of the financial year.
Andres commented: “Although the pandemic has presented some real challenges, the restrictions have given people time to pursue their own business opportunities online, from the comfort of their homes.
“Establishing a business around a passion is important and we saw a lot of small ventures catering to the needs of those living in a pandemic begin to thrive in 2020, such as quirky food services or those selling hand crafted clothes and jewellery.
“Being able to provide a product or service easily at home is the cornerstone of any successful business set up in lockdown and we hope the advice we’ve provided will inspire many aspiring entrepreneurs to take on a new project whilst living in such tight restrictions.”
To find out more about what courses and resources are available to help you succeed in business, visit: