Guest post by Ali Golds, MD @opEnterprise; Entrepreneur and Speaker

More and more young people are looking to set up their own business as a way to find work in an increasingly difficult job market. But what are the benefits and the pitfalls? What do you need to do to consider further whether this is the route for you? And how can you be sure that you have the necessary skills and experience? And if you don’t – who does?

Over the next few weeks, I will be giving you some hints and tips that will help you to decide whether setting up a business is for you and, if so, some pointers towards the first steps.

Over the last 13 years I have set up 5 companies – from scratch, with little or no financial outlay. One failed – not enough market research. One was set up purely to help me through a difficult personal time that required me to work from home. They all served a purpose and they all taught me something – that running your own business is not only great fun but gives you the flexibility you may be looking for, as well as the ability to earn money doing something you love, with you as the boss.

Through my companies Operation Enterprise and The Juno Project I work with people of all ages who either have, or would like to, set up their own business. We deliver start-up training programmes in schools, colleges and universities, and I also work as an Entrepreneur Coach. All of this experience has given me a unique insight into what it takes to set up and run a business, and how we can all improve our performance as entrepreneurs.

The first thing to consider, well before collating a business plan, is whether you have the time to start up a business. Whilst it’s certainly something that you can do on a part time basis, and many people do so very successfully, you still need to research, plan, and start your company. And then run it.

Another thing to think about is the funding of your business idea. In my experience, most businesses can be started either on nothing (often by being very shrewd and seeking out free deals as well as bartering) so there is little necessity for finance. However, for those who need to purchase materials or tools for instance, it’s a different story.

I am not convinced by those who insist that you need to take out loans to start a business; indeed, I am a strong advocate of self-funding. More often than not, with a little creativity, we can find the monies we need to start our business ourselves, thereby saving extra worries about repaying loans etc on top of all of the usual start up worries.

Alongside these issues are the questions of your personal skills, the marketability of your idea and the practicalities of running a business – which we will be investigating over the next few weeks.

Until next time!