With London recently named the FinTech-unicorn capital of Europe, it is clear to see that the UK is a key country in which to launch a high-tech startup.
Even though countries such as France are now trying to catch up to the bandwagon by offering incentives for startups, they still have a long way to travel before attaining the sheer momentum which is driving UK-based startups today.
Here’s how to increase your chances of making a startup successful.
Have a great business idea
Every startup begins with a great idea — that seminal moment of initial inspiration which sets the ball rolling for a veritable avalanche of progress in the years to come.
Once you’ve had that inspirational moment, it’s time to start planning the nuts and bolts of how to turn that idea into reality.
There are three possible routes you can take from this point:
- Route 1: Fly high on inspiration and do nothing at all to bring the ideas down to earth so they can actually be executed.
- Route 2: Bring all the ideas very solidly down to earth with a thundering crash, thereby ruining all inspiration that made the idea sound great in the first place.
- Route 3 (recommended): Take the middle route, balancing “inspiration” with the actual details of how to achieve your goals, thereby striking a balance between the two roads.
Entrepreneurs do have high-flown ideas. They push the envelope and try to achieve magnificent things which others don’t believe are possible.
Would anyone have guessed that, these days, we would be able to open up business bank accounts with zero Forex fees just by using our smartphones? Was VoIP on anyone’s radar thirty years ago?
Those business models began with an idea and were driven through with actual nuts-and-bolts planning to turn them into going concerns.
Write a thorough business plan
Unless you’re a freelancer or intend on starting a really small business, you’re probably going to need some initial funding to get your business off the ground.
If your business is a small one, probably your two best options are:
- Find a family member or friend to loan you the money (technically, this person would be called an “Angel Investor”)
- Get a bank loan.
If you’re going to a mate or to a family member, you probably don’t need a business plan (although it’s a brilliant idea to do one, anyway). But if you want to get a bank loan, a business plan is a requirement.
A business plan takes all those high-flown ideas and turns them into solid concepts. If your business plan is written soundly, and you’ve taken a good, hard look at how to make your business succeed in the real world, the chances are excellent that you’ll get that necessary bank loan.
Marketing & Sales
Even small businesses need to do a lot of marketing.
“Marketing” can be something as simple as putting a chalkboard outside your shop and advertising today’s specials on it. Or it could be as advanced as launching a full-blown internet marketing campaign replete with professionally designed social media profiles and regularly updated content.
The entire purpose of marketing is to bring your product to the market and get it sold.
Sales are the lifeblood of any business, not only startups.
Often, startups have a long lead time to get their product ready for general consumption. But, when the product is ready, it is imperative to get that product in the hands of consumers as fast as humanly possible.
British Business? Then market to the Brits.
In today’s global village, it is easy to forget that the easiest market to penetrate is your home turf.
Even though it is easy to chat with someone in the USA via the internet these days doesn’t mean a business suddenly knows everything there is to know about the US market.
Focus locally first. Build an appeal in the country or town you’re in first and let those first customers carry the initial flag for your business on your behalf.
Starting a business locally allows you to build up loyalty more easily. You can make public appearances, deliver presentations and build a supportive community around your idea and concept.
Everybody likes supporting the home team.
To that end, if you’re marketing to the Brits, then always remember that…
…Dry jokes are the best jokes
Nothing quite beats the class, style and subtlety of dry British humour. From Monty Python to The Black Adder and Fawlty Towers, we take strong pride in our ability to laugh at the world with our tongues in our cheeks.
If your product or service is aimed predominantly at a British crowd, you will gain a tremendous amount of mileage by using decidedly Britishhumour in your marketing.
Summary of starting a successful business in the UK
So, how do you make a startup succeed in the UK? You do the “usual stuff” like all other businesses across the world (idea, business plan, funding, premises, employees, etc.), and then you angle your initial promotion so as to appeal to the market that is right under your nose.
In short: Go local, start small, and build from there.
Shoaib Aslam is the co-founder of Pearl Chartered Accountants, a UK-based chartered accountancy firm that has multiple locations across London. They are experts in helping startups and established businesses with all aspects of growth, strategy, scaling up, accounting and tax planning.