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Check out our Top 10 tips, to help get yourself on the starting line.

1. Make sure it’s right for you
Be brutally honest with yourself: are you the right person to start a business? Can you work long hours? Can you take pressure and criticism? Can you cope with financial insecurity? If your business struggled at first, would you keep going? Write down the reasons why you are starting a business and decide whether it’s right for you.

2. Make sure your product or service is a must-have
Your idea doesn’t have to be new but it does need to differentiate you from your competitors. You also need to know that people will want or need it enough to buy it.

3. Know your market better
Carry out as much research as you can. Find out about your market, the demand, your competitors. Talk to potential customers, suppliers, competitors, distributors and ex-employees of competitors. Test your idea and test the market. This is a vital step before you write your business plan.

4. Write a business plan
This is essential. It’s your roadmap. Remember, it’s not set in stone; it’s always evolving, with your business and should include longer-term objectives, estimates and forecasts. Each step should, if possible, be measurable so you can gauge your success and so you can access funding and investment, if you need to.

5. The structure

Will you form a limited company, a limited liability partnership (LLP), a traditional partnership or will you be a sole trader. Each option has pros and cons and you need to determine what will work best for you.

6. Image

This is more than just your name. It’s your brand identity, distilled into its purest form. It brings your vision and values to life and connects you to your customers so you need to give it some thought.

7. Money

This is a biggie, since you’ll need to spend it and you’ll need to earn it. You might also need to secure it from a range of sources or even borrow it and there are many issues to consider when it comes to funding. You’ll need to keep a handle on your finances and you’ll need to have enough cash behind you to make your business work.

8. Premises

Your back bedroom might be fine, at first but will it always fit the bill? Should you buy or lease? What about insurance and business rates? Think about what works for you now and what premises you may need as you grow.

9. The IT

Hardware, software and cyber security. Now, more than ever, you need to get this right, investing in the right gear will help you in the long term.

10. Seek help

Even long- established, successful businesses need help to bounce around new ideas and growth plans so new businesses should never try to go it alone. The right advice, mentoring and support can help you with business planning, legal issues, IP and patents, funding and investment, research, design, prototyping and product development, premises, HR and employment issues, marketing, sales and much more.

The University of Chester provides fully-funded support to businesses, through the Cheshire & Warrington Business Growth Programme.

Backed by the European Regional Development Fund, the programme helps:

  • Entrepreneurs – People with a business idea
  • Pre-start businesses – A new business not yet registered
  • SMEs – A small business trading less than 42 months

To find out more about the support available directly from the University of Chester please email: businessgrowth@chester.ac.uk