The New Year is one of the best times to take the plunge and start your own business and never has there been more support to ensure you will succeed.
Have you been bouncing around an idea for a business for a while now? Want to understand if that idea can be shaped into a profitable business? Have a desire to be your own boss?
Government statistics for 2016 show that whatever people’s perceptions of the risks, setting up a small business in the UK is more popular than ever. At the beginning of 2016, there were 5.5 million businesses in the private sector. This represents an increase of almost 97,000 from the previous 12 months, and an incredible 2 million increase from the turn of the century.
Furthermore, in the 12 months from January 2015 to 2016 the number of new start-ups increased by 84,000.
On top of this, other research from StartUp Britain, a government-backed national enterprise campaign, shows 342,927 new businesses were registered with Companies House between January and June in 2016, compared with 608,110 for the whole of 2015 – a record year.
So, it’s certain that start-up businesses begin, but do they last and are they profitable? Statistics suggest that fewer businesses are failing, with government figures showing 3,694 companies entered insolvency in the first three months of the year, 3.6 per cent lower than in the same period during 2015.
So, how do entrepreneurs give themselves the best chance of success when embarking on the minefield of starting a new business? Tapping into the expertise of experienced professionals who have been there and can guide you in the right direction seems like the ideal place to start.
RazorSecure, a start-up based in Basingstoke, which specialises in cybersecurity for small-scale networks was undergoing the usual start-up teething problems before things dramatically turned around.
The company, which has created a real-time security monitor and recently trialled its technology on a train service in Sweden, decided it needed support and signed up for an entrepreneurship training programme with SETsquared at the start of 2015.
SETsquared, the global number one university business incubator and enterprise partnership between the universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey, is currently supporting over 260 start-ups.
In just over one year, RazorSecure had successfully raised an impressive six figure investment – a transformation many new businesses can only dream of.
The programme covers all basic areas of starting a business. It teaches attendees about routes to market, raising money and perfecting pitches, how to get a business idea off to a great start and preparing to test it on the market.
RazorSecure was also able to take advantage of SETsquared’s Open Innovation and Investment Showcase events, which sees start-ups exhibiting and pitching to both corporates looking for technology to adopt, as well as investors.
Alex Cowan, CEO at RazorSecure, said: “The support the company has received from SETsquared has been incredible. By working with an entrepreneur-in-residence at the Basingstoke hub, we’ve cemented our business strategy and developed the company to be investment-ready.
“The entrepreneurship training programme really was the springboard for RazorSecure and we’re very pleased to have secured this funding.
“The investment we’ve raised will allow us to properly kick off with the next stage of the business. We’ll be able to move to a bigger office space and build up the team with more full-time staff, allowing us to really grow.”
Dr Daniel Murray, managing director at start-up Industrial Phycology said attending the programme was invaluable for his company too.
“If you’re thinking of starting, or are already running, a tech business then SETsquared’s programme is an absolute must,” he explained.
“If you enjoy the course, then it’s a good indication that starting a business is the right thing for you. The course taught me about different sources of investment and funding and how to successfully approach each of them, the speakers were excellent and each element was engaging and easy to understand.”
Simon Bond, innovation director at SETsquared, said: “Starting a business in the New Year is the perfect time to realise your dreams. It’s a fresh start, you’re full of energy and optimism about your idea, or perhaps you simply cannot face returning to your job.
“Working in high-tech sectors ranging from cyber security to digitally-assisted transport, we provide high-growth start-ups with the on-going support, expert mentoring and access to programmes that will help to develop their business plans and find valuable funding strategies.
“SETsquared’sprogrammes put the entrepreneurs in front of real investors in a pitching environment and provides them with the opportunity to exhibit their businesses to corporates looking to adopt new technologies.”
The entrepreneurship training programme is part of SETsquared’s new EM3 Digital Business Acceleration Hub Programme, funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The next programme is running in Basingstoke on 2-3 February and is aimed at entrepreneurs with an idea for a tech-based product or service, founders of early stage technology ventures, as well as more experienced entrepreneurs launching a new product or venture. People wishing to apply for a place should visit: http://www.setsquared.co.uk/start-support/setsquared-centres/setsquared-digital-hubs/hands-interactive-business-support