Our guide to business start-up courses
Jane McGuire

Our guide to business start-up courses

First published date June 25 2014 Amended date June 25 2014

Do you dream of running your own business? Would you describe yourself as a budding entrepreneur? From Apple to Facebook, the most successful businesses in the world started with a single idea, a gap in the market and a lot of hard work. If you have the plans but don’t know where to start, a business start up course is a great way to get all the skills under your belt to help make your dreams a reality.

There is no simple blueprint plan when it comes to starting out, but there are some useful things to know before you get going. Here at Hotcourses we believe age is not a factor for quantifying future business success – whether you are 17 or 70, a complete beginner, or a dragon on Dragons’ Den, there is a course for you.


No idea where to begin?

So you’ve got the best idea in the world but don’t know where to begin. When it comes to starting up there are many different options; a part time business is a great way of running a company alongside other work or family commitments. Franchising is also a great option, allowing you to run your own business with the training and support of a big name brand such as Starbucks or Wagammas behind you. Also buying an existing company often holds less risk than starting afresh.

Remember that even the best ideas will not take off without a killer business plan. Getting clued up on branding, marketing and business management is a must. Often the world’s most creative people hate numbers, so enrolling on one of our business and finance courses can help when it comes to mastering the maths.  Those at the top have often highlighted the importance of familiarising yourself with the tax laws and to getting yourself insured as part of your start up plan.


Can I really afford this?

Start up loans – When it comes to funding your business it is not as scary as it seems and there are a number of choices. A start up loan is a government funded scheme, providing loans and mentors for entrepreneurs. Loans are given on the basis of need, with the average loan being £6,000 with an interest rate of 6% which must be re-paid in 1-5 years. If you are over 18, or have been trading for less than a year you are eligible for the loan.

Government business bank – There are a number of national government grants for small businesses in the UK which hand out money based on their own criteria and objectives. Each grant scheme has its own criteria and eligibility tends to fall into categories of location, size and industry. The main difference between a grant and a loan is in most cases you will not need to pay all or any of the grant money back.


Help! It’s all going wrong!

Remember that you are not alone; there are loads of great blogs and support forums out there to help. Some loan companies will also give you a mentorship programme for the first few years –  experience is everything so learning from professionals is a great advantage.


Why should I do a course?

Whether your business is focusing on fashion or soft furnishing there is a course to help you understand the market. Most courses will cover strategy, business plans, pricing, marketing and getting an online presence as well as the legal, funding and financial elements. No one wants to fail and your tutors will offer help and support and ensure you have your feet on the ground to make your business a success. For more retail based businesses, enrolling on a course could help you master the basics when it comes to display, packaging, hallmarking and copyrighting your products.


Five important lessons from the top –


1. Think outside the box – Mark Zuckerberg

When Zuckerberg thought up ‘thefacebook’ in a college dormitory with roommates at Harvard University, who would have predicted the worldwide success it would achieve? Originally made for students at Harvard, Facebook quickly spread around the US and then the world and Zuckerberg became a billionaire at the age of 22 as a result of its success. In 2012, Facebook was valued at $104 billion and by January 2014 its market capitalisation had risen to over $134 billion. And people say students are lazy?


2. It might not work the first time – Steve Jobs

Needing no introduction, Steve Jobs is remembered as the brains behind Apple and perhaps the greatest entrepreneur of our generation, yet this was not always the case. Apple was founded by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Robert Wayne in 1976. Following a power struggle, Jobs left the company nine years later and went on to develop NeXT which would later become the foundation for the Mac OS X. In 1996 Jobs returned to Apple, now near bankruptcy and took control of the company as CEO. By 1998 Apple had become the world’s most valuable publically traded company and the reinvigoration of the company is regarded as one of the greatest turnarounds in business history.


3. Expect to be turned down time and time again, just don’t stop trying – Innocent

Best friends Adam Balon, Jon Wright and Richard Reed thought up Innocent on a snowboarding holiday on 1998 after realising there was a gap in the market for a smoothie based on natural ingredients and overtly ethical values. After six months of blending at home, the trio sold their smoothies at a music festival asking buyers whether they should quit their jobs and make smoothies by putting their empty cups in a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ bin. At the end of the weekend the ‘yes’ bin was full, so they did! The company made its first million in its second year and now sells around 2 million smoothies a week. In 2009 Coca Cola bought an 18% share in the company for £30 million, a year later they paid £65 million for a 58% stake and in 2013 they increased this to 90%. Despite being turned down by every bank and investor, the company have gone from 0 to a turnover of £100 million in 10 years. Not bad for some blended fruit.


4. It’s not a man’s world – J.K. Rowling

Unable to heat her flat, J.K.Rowling started writing Harry Potter from cafés whilst her daughter slept in a pram. Her first manuscript was rejected by Penguin, Transworld and HarperCollins, before Bloomsbury signed her and paid £10,000 for the rights to her book. By the time Rowling’s fourth book appeared in 2000 the initial print was 1.5 million copies in the UK and 3.8 million in the US. Rowling was now the highest earning woman in Britain with an income of more than £24 million. The Harry Potter series has become the bestselling books in history, translated into 73 different languages and the film adaptations are the highest grossing film series ever. The latest addition to the Harry Potter empire is a series of theme parks and museums, allowing fans to enter the fantasy world of Hogwarts. Pretty good work for a muggle.


5. Don’t give in to competition – Evan Spieigal

Many of you will not have heard of the name Evan Spieigal but are more than likely to have used his app. Picaboo was born in 2011 after being developed by Evan Spieigal and Robert Murphy whilst at Stanford University and was later renamed and rebranded as Snapchat.  The photo messaging app has taken the world by storm and in May 2014 the app’s users were sending 700 million photos and videos per day. With just 20 employees and no revenue, the company is valued at $800 million dollars; Spieigal reportedly turned down a $3 billion dollar purchase by Facebook last year and proves that in business, you should never give in.

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