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Inspiration For Your Business Start-up in 2014

What type of entrepreneur are you? Do you have a gem of an idea already and just need a helping hand to get it off the ground?

Maybe you want to help other start-ups develop their ideas? Or you have a head for business, but are looking for some inspiration for a product or service to develop for yourself? Whatever the case is, it makes sense to take a look at recent success stories to see how it’s done …

Waiting for Father Christmas?

So let’s say you’ve got that idea in your head already but you need to get it into practice. Two things could happen to make this a reality. A Father Christmas figure in the form of a venture capitalist, rich relative (or maybe even a Dragon!) could come along and bankroll it.

Most of us have to go it alone – which very often means having to raise finance from a bank or credit union. Unfortunately, in today’s climate bank managers often bear a closer resemblance to Ebeneezer Scrooge than Santa Claus when it comes to funding small businesses. As this story from CNBC from a couple of months ago shows, even a Manhattan-based Delhi-born entrepreneur with a $2.5 million turnover can find it hard to get finance!

Bukhara Grill – a successful business denied funding

Obviously, you need to be able to present your proposal in the best possible light. Students of business entrepreneurship know all about the importance of constructing a watertight business plan to attract potential lenders and investors.

It’s one of the reasons why applying for a place on a Business Start-up and Entrepreneurship Online Course is probably the best Christmas present you could treat yourself to this year.

So where do I get inspiration?

“I wish I’d thought of that”. How many times has this thought crossed your mind? Whether it’s the guy with a queue a mile long outside his food stall, or news of the latest big flotation of what was a tiny start-up just a few years ago, great ideas seem so obvious – once they’ve taken off. There’s no substitute for proper research – but sometimes we need a little spark to get the creative juices flowing.

Most of us don’t get to hang out with a whole room full of entrepreneurs that often. If we did, then who’s to say some of that magic dust might just rub off on us? The next best thing is to take a look at entrepreneurs who’ve made it in a big way. A great place to start is an awards ceremony such as the UK Startup Awards that were held earlier this month.

Here’s a closer look at some of the winners …

Startup Business of the Year: YPlan.

The winner of Startup Business of the Year 2013 was YPlan. The events industry and entrepreneurship seem to go hand in hand, and this is one of the results. A lot of their success is probably down to personality …  if you’ve got the get up and go to start out on your own in business, there’s a good chance you’re the type of person who’ll do well in a people-centered industry like Events Management!

YPlan are certainly not publicity-shy as you can see in a number of online interviews!

There’s much more to events management than being able to throw a good party though: it’s a serious business worth around £60bn in the UK alone. What’s more, the fact that there aren’t companies with a dominant market share in this industry means there’s plenty of scope for startups. You can find out more about the events industry and how to equip yourself with the tools needed to succeed in it here.

YPlan’s model could be summed up as the ultimate ‘last minute’ app. It enables users to browse a list of top events taking place any evening and allows them to book in for their event of choice with just “two taps” on their smartphone.

The success of YPlan also shows how useful it is to create a genuine ‘buzz’ around your product. We can’t all get the likes of Ashton Kutcher and Pharrell Williams on board the way these guys did, but if you research your market and see what makes it tick, whether it be through targeted digital marketing or simply grabbing the attention of the right people in your neighbourhood, it can make all the difference.

Looking back at our article on Dragons’ Den success stories, a recurring theme was utter belief in both yourself and your product – and the guys behind YPlan are definitely not short of self-confidence.

Franchisee of the Year: Driver Hire.

Franchisee of the Year was specialist recruitment company, Cochester-based Driver Hire.

Are franchises on your radar? They should be. It’s basically taking an entrepreneurial route without having to have the big idea. By way of illustration, here’s a useful breakdown of the US franchise industry courtesy of the Wall Street Journal:

Breakdown of franchising statistics … (image: wsj.com)

This list of the top 500 global franchises from entrepreneur.com also makes interesting reading.

Being a franchisee isn’t necessarily going to appeal to those with a ‘die-hard’ entrepreneurial spirit – not least because you don’t have total control over large swathes of your business, particularly when it comes to branding. Nevertheless, a franchise allows you to work for yourself but without some of the risks associated with starting from scratch.

Perhaps more importantly, it was the passion of this winner that really impressed the judges – something that’s needed to succeed in any sector.

Mumpreneur of the Year: Turtletots.

The award for Mumpreneur of the Year was won by Turtletots, a swimming programme for babies and toddlers. It’s also worth checking out some of the other businesses that were nominated in this and the Home-based Business of the Year categories.

Mumpreneur of the Year 2013

Mumpreneur of the Year 2013 (image: www.startups.co.uk)

The phrase ‘Mumpreneur’ might sound ever-so-slightly patronising but what this category demonstrates more than any other is that whatever your circumstances- and whatever your time restrictions, it’s possible to work around them.

The same is of course, true for study – particularly when it comes to online business courses!

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