Guest blog by Alastair Cameron, Co-Founder of Startacus – ‘the self-start society’, on some places to go for help and advice on starting a business in the UK.
Often it’s the ‘not knowing’ that puts someone off from starting a business and although there is a plethora of information about starting a business available both on and offline, wading through that information and finding the relevant bits can become a barrier in itself.
When I went from employment to redundancy, to unemployment and then self-employment, despite having ten years’ experience in the corporate world, I still found that the transition, at best, was a murky path to follow.
Not only was the bureaucracy of unemployment hard to contend with, the information that I found on becoming self-employed was often quite self-serving and often specific to a particular area or market sector.
With this in mind and looking back on my first year of self-employment, I’ve listed some of the places and spaces that you might want to look at if you are currently considering starting a business, or at least doing something with that ‘great idea’ you have always had…
I start with the Jobcentre with untainted eyes having myself experienced the varying levels of support and service you can get when asked to ‘sign here’. At worst this is all you may be actually asked. At best though, and often if you go looking, you might be surprised to find that the Jobcentre can not only point you in the right direction, but also offer you unemployment schemes to test trade starting a business. I myself went on a test trading scheme and it provided me with the scope to work out some of the basics of my business.
Again, unless you are ‘on the look’, you might not appreciate that most regions in the UK have local enterprise centres, innovation hubs, co-working spaces, enterprise champions…the list goes on. The point I am making however is that unless you know the right words to search for, all of the above may seem rather alien to you and therefore you would not know what to search for to find out what is potentially available in the area or region you live. Try using some of the keywords I have highlighted above and your location and you may be surprised to what is on offer.
Charities / Funding
Cash. Hard cash. Funding is actually easier to find than you often think. Now don’t get me wrong, completing funding applications can be a pain and rather laborious, however can be certainly worth it. You may be surprised to find that if you go looking for cash, cash may very well be available.
I am not necessarily talking £100k’s, but then again I am not talking about Dragons’ Den style funding where you potentially lose a big stake in your business. In the area you live, you may be surprised to find that money is available to support start-up businesses, whether it be through public sector funding or charitable organisations. In terms of charitable type bodies, try The Prince’s Trust, Nesta, UnLtd, Shell LiveWIRE or PRIME as starting points and also try simply searching for ‘start a business funding’ and ‘your location’. It might be more simple than you thought to get a helping hand.
University Enterprise Societies
Many young entrepreneurs often go to University. Many Universities also have a strong enterprise society. Bingo! If you are reading this article and are currently at or considering going to University and have aspirations to start your own business, perhaps you may want to take a look at the services your University or target University have on offer to encourage and support enterprise. NACUE (National Association of College & University Entrepreneurs) is well worth checking out too.
Not for everyone perhaps, but face-to-face meetups promoting self employment, enterprise, start-ups and entrepreneurs happen in most major cities. Albeit if you live in a small village or town, your prospects of a vibrant meetup with other wannabe entrepreneurs may be slim, however if you are perhaps prepared to travel a little, you can also take part.
Meetups can vary from general corporate business meetups to niche networking groups of self-employed souls – mums, tech, social enterprise are three that spring to mind! Simply do a search of what is available close to where you live – you may be surprised both as to what is available as well as just how big an impact that networking with others can help you develop your own business and business model.
Forgive the self-promotion, as I am the Founder of Startacus – the self start society! Set up after my own redundancy and my quest for more information on how to start a business, we are a platform with a mission – to help self-starters, innovators, start-ups & creatives to be informed and inspired, to connect, collaborate & bring ideas to life. Join us at startacus.net & start something today!
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