Home business: tips on how to turn the dream into reality
At Enterprise Nation's Startup 2015, a panel of entrepreneurs talked about their experiences and tips for starting a successful business. Here's what they had to say.
Do you dream of owning your own business but feel too daunted to get started? As part of our partnership with Enterprise Nation, Direct Line for Business took part in a panel discussion with a group of young entrepreneurs who had all recently started up their own businesses. We wanted to know how they got started, what challenges they faced and what advice they would give others trying to head out on their own:
Here are the highlights:
Finding your idea
How do you find your idea? Well, Casey Clark set up her business, KupKase Custom Cakes, to look for something that fitted her personality better. She enjoyed her previous job, but claims ‘it just didn’t feel like I was giving all of me’.
At first, Casey didn’t know what type of business she wanted to run, so she began looking around. ‘I love cake,’ she says. ‘I happily pay money for it, but I noticed that there was a trend for cupcakes that looked great, but the taste wasn’t there. I felt like I could do better.’ For Casey, once she had her idea, everything else fell into place. ‘Everything seemed to align once I had my idea.’
Katy Hymas owns two businesses. She runs a PR agency and also created Mumlin, a u-shaped piece of cloth that sits over both shoulders to protect your clothes while burping your baby. The business began when she gave birth to twins and was amazed to find that she couldn’t buy the product she needed.
‘Encountering a problem and developing a solution is a great way to come up with a business idea,’ she says, ‘but my products evolution was also informed by my skillset.’
Taking your product to market
Once you’ve got the idea for your business, how do you go about getting your product to market and making sales?
Katy used her PR and branding background to get her product noticed. For Katy, playing to your skills is key to success, but you don’t have to be a PR expert to get your product name out there.
‘Social media can be a big help,’ says Francesca Kemp, founder of handmade homewares business Crafty Revolution. Fran had a very small budget, so free publicity was welcome. She applied for a lot of small business competitions and initiatives, and was constantly alert to opportunities. As a result, she was picked by Small Business Saturday UK as one of their top 100. That got her publicity and profiling that she could never have afforded alone.
In order to get started you need to secure start-up cash. Daniel Roberts founded smoothie business BananaBerry Ltd just over a year ago. The company uses discarded fruit to make delicious smoothies. Daniel put a lot of his own money into his company thanks to his work as a male model. Importantly though, he also made sure that his new company was cautious with cashflow.
‘I believe in the idea of running a lean startup,’ he says. That means ‘making as much money as you can from as little as possible.’ BananaBerry are now looking for further funding, but Dan says they’re still committed to keeping costs low.
Being cautious with outgoing cash is one way of looking after your business. But there is more people can do to minimise the risks that come with a start up.
Jazz Gakhal is Director of Direct Line for Business. She’s worked with thousands of microbusinesses and watched them flourish. ‘Cashflow can be a problem,’ she says, ‘but public liability insurance can help you to cover your business (in the event that you cause an injury or damage to a third party or their property arising from your business activities).’
For small businesses, insurance can be a great help. For example, your stock might get stolen or destroyed due to a fire or flood which could prevent you from trading. Plus, an accident might happen while a customer is visiting you in your home or office, or if you’re visiting them.
‘If the worst happens, and we hope it doesn’t, you need to think about whether you’d be able to cover the costs.’ Here, small business insurance can help you and help cover your business for the future.