Setting up a business

Each year half a million people in the UK set up their own businesses. Being your own boss can give you the flexibility to work when and where you want and can be very rewarding. It’s not for everyone, but if you do decide to go it alone there is lots advice available online for the determined entrepreneur.

Pros of starting your own business

  • You are in control – it can be very empowering to choose when and how you work
  • You can choose who you work with
  • No more office politics or working for someone who doesn’t appreciate you
  • No more time wasted commuting and no commuting costs
  • Going it alone and doing well can be very satisfying and boost your self-esteem
  • You don’t have to go the whole hog – you can keep your day job and experiment with working for yourself by starting small and setting up your business in your spare time

Cons of starting your own business

  • You have sole responsibility for the success of your business – there is no-one else to blame when things go wrong
  • It’s up to you to plan your schedule - this can be a challenge for people who don’t have a strong work ethic or who lack self-discipline
  • You’re likely to have to work long hours – especially when you’re in the set-up phase.  And in the same way that there is no-one to tell you to start work each morning, there is no-one to tell you to stop
  • No regular set income, paid holidays, sick leave or company pension
  • If you have staff, you have the responsibility for the safety and job security of other people

Starting your own business – some essentials

Do it for the right reasons.  Set up a business because you want to provide a great service or solve a problem, not because you don’t want to get up so early in the morning or because you’re fed up with your current job.

Know your market.  Before you commit time, effort and money to starting your own business make sure that you have a product or service that people actually want.  Do you know who your potential customers are?  Do you know where to find them? What are you doing for them that other businesses aren’t?

Learn from others.  Always be willing to learn from others whose businesses are thriving – their advice will be invaluable. Seek out those whose businesses you admire – both in real life and online and learn from their mistakes and successes.

Know your competitors. Make sure you know how your product or service compares to those already being offered. Analyse your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. Try to determine their strategy and work out how this could threaten your business, or conversely, provide you with an opportunity.

There is no need to re-invent the wheel.  Many people think that you have to come up with a brand new idea that no-one has yet thought of. There’s nothing wrong in finding a better way of doing or making something that already exists.

Avoid unnecessary expenditure. While building your business keep a laser eye on costs – avoid spending that isn’t absolutely necessary.

Further information

UK Government advice on setting up a business.

Startup Britain a national campaign for and by entrepreneurs

HM Revenue and Customs advice on tax, national insurance, PAYE and VAT

The British Franchise Association - promotes ethical franchising in the UK

Guides to starting your own business

UK Government



The Princes Trust