What do I want to do with my life? The perennial question, especially for millennials like us. Back when our parents and grandparents were young, the world worked differently. You got a job, 8 times out of 10, you stayed in that job until you retired. That is not the world we live in now. In today’s market, employment is precarious. Nearly 1 in 10 people are part of the so-called gig economy, working for low-pay with no job security. Even if you’ve got a proper, fixed hours contract, you might only be secure for a year or two, because so many sectors are dependent on external funding to pay salaries. And now we’re in the middle of a pandemic and the UK is teetering on the edge of a no-deal Brexit. These are scary times for young people stepping out into the job market, whatever background and qualifications you come with.
But what if you decided to take charge of the situation and create your own job? Have you ever thought that it would be great to turn your hobby or idea into a fully-fledged business, and make a living doing something you love? Maybe this is the time to try!
I’m making it sound easy. It’s not. Starting your own business is probably one of the toughest things you can do – but also the most rewarding. Yes, you’re the boss – but that means you’re in charge of EVERYTHING. You ARE everything. You’re the marketing team, the accountant, the manager, the customer service rep, the cleaner, the fundraiser, the designer, the social media guy… the list goes on. You don’t get holiday pay or sick pay (unless you can afford to pay yourself), you don’t get paid maternity leave, you have to sort out your own taxes, there will be SO MUCH admin! But you’ll be doing this all for yourself, on your terms. Isn’t that an exciting prospect?
Sold? Great. So what next?
1. Make it about you
Your business is going to be like your baby. You have to love it to raise it well. Passion is the driver to any successful business. If you believe in your business idea, you’ll be motivated to put in the time and effort needed to succeed. So don’t just go for something that sounds good, but choose something that matters to you. Sure, it might be possible to make lots of money if you set up a marketing business. But if you don’t know much about marketing, but love making your own clothes, then it makes much more sense to take your existing skills and talent and turn that into a business. Remember, you don’t have to have a unique idea! You just need to know why you would be good at doing the thing you want to do.
2. Talk to people
Every business starts with an idea. To turn that idea into a viable plan, you need to start by having conversations. What is your business about? Who will be your customers? Go out and find out! Talk to people you know and find out what they would want from a business like yours. Look at what other similar businesses are doing – what can you do differently, or better? Talk to other small businesses about their experience of starting up – they might well be happy to share some advice. Remember, you don’t need to do any of this on your own! For example, the charity I work for, Launch It, offer business support and access to premises to young people between 18-30 who are in the early stages of starting up their own businesses. Get in touch and see how we can help.
Remember, starting a business is hard work – but you don’t need to do it in isolation. Get your friends and family excited about it too, so you know they’ll be there to support you through the more challenging times.
3. Write a business plan
Everyone’s heard that old saying: “a dream without a plan is just a wish”. It’s true. To succeed in business, you have to think ahead. What do you need to do to get started? How much will it cost to buy your equipment/stock? Who are you selling your product/service to? How will you attract them to your brand? Where do I want my business to be in a year / 3 years? How will I get there? When can I expect to start making a profit?
There are so many questions to answer, and it can feel overwhelming until you take the time to step back and put a plan on paper. A business plan is always a work in progress, but it’s important to ask yourself the difficult questions now, so that you have the answers to hand later on when you need them.
There are many free business plan templates out there that you can use. Launch It can also offer you one-to-one support with writing your business plan, for free.
You can access Launch It’s free template business plan template here and we also offer you one-to-one support with writing your business plan, for free.
Once you’ve clarified your idea and started asking the right questions in your business plan, your next step is up to you! One last bit of advice – be patient. Building a successful business takes time and energy. You’ll probably make some mistakes and miscalculations along the way. Put it down to experience, and keep going. You’ll be brilliant!