Every year, thousands of people decide to set up their own business.

This guide asks why you might opt to run your own business and looks at different ways of making the move.

It considers some positive and negative aspects of each approach, and tells you where you can find out more.

A good business idea

A good business idea could be an invention, a new product or service, or an original idea or solution to an everyday problem. It might also be:
  1. a gap in the market that you can fill
  2. a business related to the work you do already
  3. turning an interest or hobby into a business

  • How big is the market, and how will you reach it?
  • Who will be your main competitors?
  • What is special about your idea, making it different from similar products or services already out there?
  • How will you fund your business idea?
  • What might go wrong?
For more information on turning your answers to these questions into key documents for your business, see our guides on how to prepare a business plan and write a marketing plan.

Other sources of help

You can get free professional help from your local enterprise agency - find your local enterprise agency on the National Federation of Enterprise Agencies website and make an appointment with one of their advisers to talk over your plans.

Discuss your ideas with friends and colleagues, particularly those who know about the business. Help for people under 30

Help with setting up your own business is available from the Shell LiveWIRE scheme. Read about the services offered on the Shell LiveWIRE website. If you have a good idea for a business but can't get funding, the Prince's Trust scheme can help you by offering a low interest loan, a grant or a mentor. Find details of the scheme on the Prince's Trust website.

A tried and tested business model

Some self-starters choose a well-trodden path - such as buying an existing business or rights to a franchise - which can carry fewer risks than going it alone.

Advantages

It is usually easier to get finance.

A market for the product or service will have already been demonstrated.

A business plan and marketing method will be in place.

You should have valuable experience to draw on.

Many of the problems will have been discovered and solved already.

A franchise comes with financial support too.
Disadvantages
Some businesses that are up for sale may be experiencing difficulties. Make sure you understand fully the reasons for selling, as you may need to invest quite a bit more on top of the purchase price to give it the best chance of success.

The rights to a franchise or to sell particular products or services may be expensive. With a franchise, there may be a particular way to run the business that you have to stick with. For more details of acquiring a going concern, see our guide on how to buy an existing business.