Last year, the number of UK businesses in operation hit a record-breaking 5.4 million and, with small and medium-sized companies now adding over £1 trillion to the economy, there’s no better time to take that leap of faith and start your own creative business.
With only an idea nestling inside your head and a blank piece of paper staring you in the face, the thought of making it all a reality can be rather overwhelming. In this post, I’d like to put your mind at ease and break down the process of launching a creative start-up into small, bite sized pieces.
A business is nothing without a plan. It’s therefore time to get that idea out of your head, because a solid business plan is a must if you are to make your dream a reality and secure any necessary funding. There are templates aplenty online, and I’d recommend looking no further than the Government’s own website for help and advice.
It’s a great idea to road test your business idea and be ready for honest feedback. Before spending a penny, make contact with industry peers and anyone you feel you can trust to provide you with an honest opinion. Your idea is brilliant, you know that, but it is sensible to sanity check each element and see what others think. Act on the feedback you receive and amend your business plan accordingly.
Very few businesses can get off the ground without some form of funding and it is likely you’ll need some capital to get going. However, before you rush to the bank, bear in mind that recent research suggests some SMEs are turning their backs on traditional methods of finance. Peer-to-peer lending and crowdfunding websites such as Kickstarter offer a compelling alternative, so make sure you check them out. Make sure you know what you’re doing and get financial advice from qualified experts.
Many creative businesses start off as sole endeavours. If you can go it alone to begin with, that’s brilliant, but if you know you need staff to support your business and help it grow, hiring can present a number of challenges. I’d recommend looking on your doorstep, first. Do you have anyone close who may be interested in working for you? What about prior businesses at which you’ve worked yourself? There’s no harm in poaching if it’ll offer you the best chance to succeed. It’s also worth checking out freelancing sites such as People Per Hour, which can offer a fantastic, low-cost alternative to hiring ‘traditional’ staff.
Formally set up
Once you’re ready to get going, you’ll need to perform some due diligence. If you’re initially going it alone, I’d advise starting off on the sole trading route, but if you need to form a company, don’t be put off by the prospect of setting up a limited company. Doing so is a lot easier than you think, and you’ll benefit commercially. Just find a decent accountant to help you along the way – it’ll be amongst the best investments you make.
Hit social media, hard. Interact with industry peers and experts and scour LinkedIn looking for valuable connections. Think of your business contacts as another form of marketing and one of the most important you should perform when initially launching your creative start-up.
Learn to say ‘no’
When building a new business, it is tempting to take on every enquiry thrown your way. After all, you want to make a good first impression and build a significant client base, don’t you? It doesn’t hurt to be ambitious, but learn to walk before you can run. If you find yourself in the fortunate position of receiving a significant number of enquiries from the off, don’t be afraid of turning down the ones you don’t feel you can fulfil. It’ll work out better in the long run.
Do you agree with Susan? Are there any you disagree with or would like to add? We’d love to know, so post them in the comments.