If you are thinking of setting up your own venture then you are in good company. The vast majority of private businesses in the UK are small and medium sized business (SMEs) – in fact, according to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, SMEs make up 99.9 percent of private businesses in the UK and account for 58.8 percent of total employment. So, should you start your own business now?
This is an understandable question to ask but in truth there is no definite answer. If you are considering a move out on your own the motivation behind asking it may be to find certainty that you are making the right decision, but actually this is impossible.
To jump or not to jump?
You might think that waiting until the economy recovers is more sensible and you may be right. However, it is likely that there are many others following that line of thinking, so when you eventually do decide to start your own business you may end up being just one of a number of people doing exactly the same thing, some of whom may have the same business idea that you do.
It could be that now is the perfect time to start building a business. After all, if the competition is light you may have time to develop the long-term contacts that will stand to you when the economy begins to really grow, giving you a head start on other businesses that come into the market later on.
Many people think that running a business is all or nothing – that you are either an employee or you are running a business. But it is actually possible to do both and this may be the best option for you; a way of testing your business idea in a way that reduces the financial risk.
Why not start out part-time and begin to build up work, contacts and knowledge? That way, you can retain the income of your regular job while at the same time start to develop a sideline that may later become a viable business.
If you decide to start your business while you are still working you should check your employment contract, as it may contain clauses preventing you from working in a similar area. Your employer may understandably be nervous about issues relating to competition as well as your access to business sensitive information. In many cases brought to employment tribunals in the UK, ex-employees have lost – not so much because of competition, which is often protected, but because they were found guilty of divulging confidential information.
If you feel that your new area of business will not cause any issues it may be worth speaking to your employer about your plans. They may be able to offer advice and support to you in your new endeavour. Additionally, if you do eventually leave to develop your business full-time it will be much better to leave on good terms.
In some ways timing a move is like trying to time a jump onto a swinging pendulum. It is nigh on impossible to get it exactly right so that you land on the upswing. You might end up missing it completely and get clobbered or end up holding on as it begins a downswing. Because there is no way of knowing when is the best time there is little point in trying to time it. If the other elements are right, such as a steady flow of work, a growing network of clients and the back-office processes to keep it running, then you may very well have enough in place to set forth.