People decide to start a business for many different reasons and with different motivations. Some have a clear idea about what they want to do from the start, but for others it takes a lot more thought and research.
It is not just important to be clear about the product or service you will be selling, but also to be sure there is a market that is willing to pay for it. This latter stage may require the most research.
1. What skills do you already have that could be the basis for a business?
Many people, such as tradespeople, consultants and freelancers, sell their time and skills in a service-based business. Plumbers, beauty therapists, accountants and writers are well-known examples. It is possible to apply skills you have acquired in education or another job role to a new business idea. For example, ex-servicemen or police officers could offer intelligence or security-related services, or a personal assistant within a large firm could go freelance and work as a virtual assistant for several small business clients.
2. Could you turn a hobby into a successful business?
Skills do not have to be work-related - they can come from a hobby or personal interest. If you are a keen gardener, could you set up a local gardening service? If you like cooking, could you set up a personal catering service for people having dinner parties or children's parties at home? Do not dismiss your hobby as the basis for a business idea just because you do it for fun. But be careful - it is very different spending time running a business that needs to make money, rather than simply enjoying your hobby.
3. Could you run a home-based business?
Many people start up in business from home in order to save money on premises, or to give them flexibility with childcare. Mobile technology and the affordability of high-speed broadband have made it a lot easier to set up and run a business from home. Home-based business opportunities are also becoming increasingly varied. Many people set up 'kitchen table' enterprises, such as producing homemade bread, cakes and biscuits, jams and sweets, or run a service-based business from home such as selling via eBay, freelance writing, accountancy and web design.
4. Could you take your skills into other peoples' homes?
Customers will often pay for someone to come to their home rather than having to leave the house to access a service. Beauty therapists, hairdressers, personal trainers, car valets and computer repairers are just some examples of people who offer mobile services.
Residential care homes also regularly book the services of, for example, mobile beauty therapists and hairdressers on behalf of their residents.
5. Do you enjoy driving?
If you enjoy driving, there are business ideas that are wholly reliant on the ability to drive, such as a chauffeur, courier service, taxi service, and vehicle repairs. Other businesses where there is an element of driving include mobile hairdressers, street food retailers and market traders. Some people may not be able to drive or have a disability or difficulty that prevents them from working outside the home. However, not being able to drive should not deter you from starting a business that requires this skill, if you are able to outsource this aspect of your business and if it is financially viable to do so.
6. Are you creative and can you make things to sell?
If you are creative, there are numerous opportunities for you to use this skill and make items to sell, for example making jewellery, wedding stationery or handmade toys. There are also opportunities for more traditional creative craftspeople such as stained-glass artists or blacksmiths.
Online marketplaces are an increasingly popular sales channel for designer-makers and creative businesses. They include Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Folksy and Notonthehighstreet.com. We can offer advice for trading via Amazon.
7. Do you have a talent for entertaining people?
A variety of customers will pay for entertainers with talents such as dancing, music or acting. Entertainers such as balloon artists and magicians are also in demand for all sorts of events, from children's parties and cruise line entertainment to visitor attractions and corporate hospitality events such as product launches and conferences.
8. Can you teach people, or offer coaching?
While a significant amount of teaching/training is delivered by colleges or universities, they may not be very flexible in their service delivery. At the same time, there is an increasing need for short, focused training - some of which is delivered and supported online.
There is often demand for home tuition at a range of levels and for a range of subjects - training for silver surfers to use the internet and social media, for example, might be just as popular as cello lessons for children.
If you have teaching skills, or a natural talent and enthusiasm for passing on any specialist knowledge you have, you may be able to provide tuition in, for example, a foreign language, music, arts and crafts, or cookery.
Alternatively, senior-level experience in business management, professional qualifications and coaching expertise may provide you with an opportunity to work as an executive coach.
9. Could you sell something at a street market?
Pop-up shops and street food are two popular trends across the UK. Correctly located and stocked, they can offer a good income stream that may also serve to promote a main business, for example a clothing shop or takeaway outlet. The advantage of a business being mobile is that it can be moved from outside a train station, to a festival, to a Christmas market, etc., therefore appealing to a new catchment of potential customers.
10. Could you sell or refurbish second-hand goods?
Do you have the ability to collect, repair and sell second-hand items, such as furniture, jewellery, toys or books? You could trade from a local market stall or trade online via your own website or online marketplaces such as eBay, Gumtree and Preloved.
'Upcycled' furniture has been in increasing demand and is a way for those with creative or artistic skills to refurbish - or sometimes re-purpose - items of furniture (such as a 1970s sideboard) to create a unique, statement piece that can be sold at a premium.
MENTA offer a range of business training and support including our Start-up business workshops, these are fully funded and available at locations across Norfolk and Suffolk. Discover a workshop near you and sign up for FREE!