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Tips for starting a small business in Leicester

Get your Leicester business off the ground with our top tips

Starting a business can seem like a daunting prospect, but if you have the right idea, resources and dedication then you may find it’s easier than you think. We've summarised the typical journey someone takes when starting a business - and we've added a few tips for those looking to make a success of their venture in Leicester.

The big idea

Your big idea is your business inspiration - your product and your passion. It's the idea that drives you to create a business because you can see its possibilities and want to make it work.

People stumble across their ideas in different ways - it could hit you like a lightning bolt of inspiration, or it could be an idea you've been playing over in your head for some time.

The University of Leicester is a great place for both start-ups and established small businesses to go with their ideas. There you can develop your idea and access free consultancy and business support - and even pick up interns in the form of recent graduates. The university may provide £2,000 towards to the cost of hiring staff. There, you’ll learn how to think more strategically, expand your ideas into business growth and pick up tips on tapping into the international market.

Don’t forget to register your big idea!

Write up a business plan

Don’t be discouraged by what may seem an arduous task, as in reality a business plan can be a fun way to look into your business’s future. Before sharing your plan to ask for feedback and observations, it’s important that you make sure it has a clear structure - you can use the below as a rough guide:

  • Overview: What your ideas are and how you propose to realise them.
  • Description: In this section you should include your business name, your tagline (if you have one) and a quick pitch for your business. This should be a short pitch, but strong enough to leave an impression.
  • Personal: Here, you are ultimately writing a CV - include all your personal achievements ranging from academic qualifications to practical skills. It’s good to show that you are able to overcome obstacles, so including a section on any weaknesses you may have – and how you have worked with or around them – can also be beneficial.
  • Your product/service: Use this segment to describe what product you are planning to sell or what service you’re going to provide. Remember that people reading your plan are unlikely to know as much about the product or service as you, so be as thorough as you can.
  • Marketing: Outline your marketing plan - be that social, print or viral. Outline who your competitors are and how you propose to stay one step ahead of them.
  • Financing: You should cover your projected financial performance and include evidence as to how you worked it out. Include a cash flow forecast, as well as a profit and loss prediction and a balance sheet.

Every month, a free six day course is held at St. Martins House, 7 Peacock Lane, LE1 5PZ, which meticulously covers how to draft a small business plan. The course goes into more detail on each of the above points to help you create the perfect small business plan.

Find potential partners

Working with other businesses is a great tactic - especially to begin with. It might be that you already know some small business owners - or that you've met potential partners in the six day course mentioned above. Either way, now’s the time to get yourself out there. It’s a good idea to get a business partner on board who has strengths where your weaknesses lie and vice versa. The idea is that you would be a team, so make sure that you look into their professional background and ask yourself the following:

  • Are they a professional in the relevant field?
  • Can you see yourself working with them for a long period of time?
  • Ask about what challenges they have overcome in their past to get further insight on how they may handle future business-related obstacles.

Going to as many business events as you can will increase your likelihood of finding a like-minded business person who you may wish to share a business with. You can also gain insight into how others run businesses. On Thursday the 29th October, there will be an event tailored for business owners, directors and decision makers at the Leicester Tigers Stadium, which is a great opportunity to network, learn about market trends and how to stay ahead of the competition.

Finding funding

When starting your own business, you may not have all the funds you need to get your idea off the ground. Luckily there are a number of resources you can tap into:

  • Startup Government loan of an average of £6,000.
  • A startup childcare grant for businesses that specialise in childcare who have also been trading less than twelve months.
  • The Prince’s Trust is available for those aged 18-30. If you are either unemployed or are working less than sixteen hours a week, this one’s for you.
  • The Sir Thomas White charity allocates startup business loan for 18-35 year olds – this loan is interest free up to £15,000.
  • If you are on certain benefit you can ask at your local job centre about the New Enterprise Allowance, or visit the Government website for more details.

Acquiring your premises

Once you've got all the foundations in place, it's important to find the right premises for your business. A few things to bear in mind include location and price - and if you’re renting the property be aware that you are responsible for:

  • Fire, gas and electrical safety.
  • Managing asbestos.
  • Keeping the space a reasonable temperature.
  • Provide enough space, ventilation and lighting.
  • Providing drinking water.
  • Providing safe equipment.

Leicester City Council offer lettings for commercial property and land space. For more information on letting premises visit their website.

And you’re off!

Now you have what you need to start your own business and immerse yourself in the Leicester community.  Getting started can take a lot of hard work, but with the right guidance and support you could emulate some of Leicester's most famous entrepreneurs.