Bucking trend for start-ups

According to the latest findings of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, the future is rosy for entrepreneurs in the North-east as the UK bucks the global trend for a decline in start-up businesses.

According to the latest findings of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, the future is rosy for entrepreneurs in the North-east as the UK bucks the global trend for a decline in start-up businesses.

With the proportion of adults starting a business in the UK higher than any other European Country for the first time, small business finance experts Bibby Financial Services are encouraging North-east entrepreneurs to take the leap and make their business dreams a reality.

"There's a real buzz about being in business sweeping the nation, with 'celebrity' being associated with entrepreneurship for the first time through the likes of Alan Sugar and the 'Dragon's Den' panellists bringing start-up and innovation to the masses through primetime television shows, said Glen Callander, Bibby Financial Services spokesperson for the North-east.

"However, these people and their protégés have not achieved success without hard work. To be successful in business, particularly at the start-up phase requires a great deal of hard work and dedication, with many hours invested in the business. Despite the '24-7' commitment required, owning your own business and making it a success is one of the most satisfying achievements and one which inspires many people to take the leap."

To assist aspiring entrepreneurs in the North-east who are thinking of starting their own business, Bibby Financial Services has developed the following top tips:

* Have a plan - understand and plan exactly what your growth objectives are. A good business plan will help you stay on course by ensuring that you capture long-term objectives and forecasts on paper.

* Understand your market - make sure you check the demand for your product or service and assess the competition. If no competition exists, you should examine why that is the case.

* Roll up your sleeves - running your own business involves hard work and, particularly in the early stages, may require burning the candle at both ends to get off to a good start.

* Get your finances right - cash flow is the lifeblood of business and you will need a readily available source of flexible finance to see you through. Investigate alternative funding options such as invoice finance to ensure you don't over-extend yourself. Some invoice financiers offer specialist packages for start-up businesses to suit your specific needs.

* Up your game - put quality first and be passionate and proud of your product. Work to create a product or service that is better and different from the competition - lead the way, don't follow.

* Hire the best - surround yourself with a bright enthusiastic team who share your vision, commitment and complement your skills set.

* Control costs - whatever business you are in, it is always important to have very strong financial controls. Get appropriate practices and procedures in place from the outset and stick to them.

* Show customers you care - get a dialogue going with your customers and positively encourage feedback. Set up a customer hotline, create an online feedback form or phone key customers to get a better understanding of their requirements and the issues they face.

* Go the extra mile - always strive to exceed your customer's expectations such as promising delivery within 12 working days, but actually delivering in seven. However, a word of caution - never promise what you can't deliver, always stick to your promises.

* Be ambitious - don't be afraid to take risks now and then to grow your business, being too risk averse may mean that you lose out on excellent opportunities and thwart your business' success.

Mr Callander added: "Running your own business, particularly in the early stages can seem a daunting and lonely position to be in. However, the Government provides a number of sector specific and general advisory services such as Business Link, which business owners can and should take advantage of to make their business a success. Small businesses actually account for 99% of the business community and the importance of their contribution to the economy should not be forgotten."

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