Resources to help kick-start your business
There are lots of challenges involved in setting up a business, but one of the most difficult hurdles is actually getting started. So you have an idea - now what? There are a growing number of resources available to help budding entrepreneurs get their business up and running.
Finding them and tapping into the wealth of information available helps put start-ups on the right footing to move forwards with their business idea. James Eder, founder of The Beans Group, shares the best resources available.
Access people rather than pounds
Rather than access to millions of pounds, what you really need to start a business is access to people, relationships and strategic networks. By meeting, speaking and listening to those who have ‘been there and done it’, you can gain the knowledge and support to take that step of setting up your own business.
The ecosystem available both in London and around the UK is a fantastic place to start:
Silicon Drinkabout is a regular after work drinks for start-ups every Friday 'round the Silicon Roundabout'. Founded by Mind Candy, and run by 3beards, Silicon Drinkabout is open to start-ups of all sizes as a place to meet like-minded people, have fun and relax.
General Assembly is a great hub and has a wealth of education programmes and networking events. There really is something for everyone from marketing and design to development at the heart of the community.
Google Campus - if you’re in London don’t miss out a visit to Campus, powered by Google, which offers seven floors of flexible work spaces, free high speed Internet and all the support you need to fuel your ideas. They regularly host mentoring programmes, speaker series and networking events.
By meeting, speaking and listening to those who have ‘been there and done it’, you can gain the knowledge and support to take that step of setting up your own business.
University Clubs and Societies - if you are at university, you can join the Entrepreneurship Society or find out about National Consortium of University Entrepreneurs (NACUE). If you have already graduated you can go to events put on by organisations such as The Gradpreneur Club.
When MoreBeans first started out almost eight years ago, there was nothing like the support networks available today. It is invaluable to have the advice and support of people who have gone through the experience and by sharing my story I hope to inspire young people to take the same leap that I did after graduating!
Funding is available
There are a number of schemes and organisations that you can turn to for funding. Here are two that I work closely with:
Startup Loans is a fantastic scheme led by James Caan and Lord Young where young people starting a business can apply for a loan of £2,500 and get access to personal support and mentoring. As well as the money, it’s important to see what other young people have achieved and understand that setting up a successful business is something that can actually be done. We need public figures like James Caan and Lord Young to bring entrepreneurship to the forefront. As an ambassador, I feel that I am there to support them and hopefully show students a real life example of someone who is working day to day to build a brand and grow a team around them. I am delighted to be able to share my story and inspire others to take the same leap I did when I set up studentbeans.com when I was 22.
When we were looking for an initial startup loan to get our idea off the ground and had been rejected by the bank we were able to turn to The Prince’s Trust, and after pitching our idea received a low interest loan. We were part of their ‘Business Programme’ and the advice and support from them in the early days was invaluable.
It wasn’t just about the funding, but the additional support structure. We were assigned a mentor from the law firm DLA Piper who I would meet once a month to review our figures, successes, failures and our next steps - these were vital in the process of continual learning and development.
Of course, no success story comes without a lot of hard work behind it. So be prepared to work, take responsibility and most importantly enjoy it!
James Eder is the co-founder of The Beans Group, the company behind website studentbeans.com, the largest money saving and advice website for university students in the UK. You can follow him on Twitter @jameseder or find him on LinkedIn: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/jameseder