Although we are currently living in financially uncertain times, 2021 may well be the year to put ‘that business idea’ into action. Especially if you have been placed on furlough, you can effectively get paid to research and take steps towards establishing your own business.
Starting a new business can be both exciting and overwhelming. You may have many ideas and struggle to pin down what you want to do.
Business Ideas & Online Research
If you know that you want to start a business but don’t know where to start, fear not – several websites will spark some entrepreneurial ideas for those willing and able to do some research.
Reddit is one of the most popular websites globally and is a hub of ideas, creativity, and helpful users. It is also a great place to look for business-ideas, and see what a given niche’s audience is discussing. For example, what are small business owners having problems with and complaining about?
Let’s say you are a keen healthy eating advocate. Take a look on Reddit’s nutrition forum to see what questions people are asking about nutrition. Also, take a look at the vegan and keto diet forums to get even more niche and specific.
Other websites that can help with idea generation include ExplodingTopics.com, Google Trends, and ubersuggest.com. With Exploding topics, you need to set a date range – for example, three months and it will display lots of phrases that have dramatically increased in online interest in the last three months.
Google Trends and UberSuggest.com can help with ideas too and show you if there is much online interest. You need to start with some relevant phrases, such as “marketing” if you are thinking of starting a marketing business. UberSuggest will show you how often that word is searched for, what related phrases are searched, and which associated articles get the most visitors.
Finally, if you are looking to start a business that will target local clientele, you can use Google Maps to identify how much competition there is. For example, if you are thinking about starting a marketing agency, search for “marketing agency” on Google Maps.
See how many agencies there are, and look at their reviews and their websites to see what potential issues you could exploit. For example, could you focus on a specific niche, go green, focus on local, or provide outstanding customer service?
Lay Down the Foundation
If you are still working full time and don’t want to commit a great deal of time or money into a business idea, you can test the waters and establish a foundation with a blog and a YouTube channel. You can make money from blogging and vlogging; however, the idea here would be to create some great content – i.e., videos and articles, and articles on subjects you are passionate about.
You can then keep track of which videos and blogs perform well in terms of visitors and engagement. By creating a blog and YouTube channel, you are also establishing a ‘base’ for your marketing down the road. For example, every business these days has a website, and the best way to drive traffic to it is by creating useful and entertaining content. Just by having a blog with a website address (also known as a domain name), you establish a brand and get a foot on the proverbial ladder of Google and Google rankings.
At any point, you can also look to leverage a successful blog or YouTube channel using affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing usually involves reviewing or advertising someone’s product in return for a commission when a visitor purchases the product in question directly from your site or video.
If you want to get organized and you want to apply for funding, then download a business plan template and fill it in, with great care and detail.
In terms of funding, smallbusiness.co.uk has a comprehensive list of UK grants that new businesses can apply for. By working from home, you will be reducing your overheads relative to working in an office. However, it can’t do any harm applying for grants.
Even if you cannot secure funding, many of the same organizations will provide some free advice and guidance. Your local council or university will likely be able to point you in the right direction when it comes to free advice.
Even if you are not going to show the plan to anyone else, it can help you organize your thoughts, motivating you to carry out relevant research. For example, before investing any time or money into a business idea, it can be good to research the industry first – what are the current trends? What are the demographics of the target market?
As touched on earlier, examining the competition can be an excellent idea before establishing a business. Take a look at the reviews, their selling points, and precisely what services they offer. You will also need to consider how you will market your business and consider what equipment and software you will require.
If your business goes as expected or better than expected – will you look to grow? If you do not own or rent business premises, then the concept of employing other people may seem a bit odd. However, thanks to the remote-working trend of 2020, the infrastructure for outsourcing has never been better.
Outsourcing can also mitigate any financial risks that are usually associated with growing a business. Suppose you hire freelancers on a website such as Toptal.com or guru.com. In that case, you can pay per project, you will not need to invest in any additional hardware, and you don’t need to worry about pensions and other administrative tasks associated with employing someone permanently.
What’s more is you can also hire talented individuals for a much more affordable fee, thanks to something known as geo-arbitrage. Geo-arbitrage involves taking advantage of the pound’s relative strength compared to an overseas currency such as the Philippine peso. The pound’s relative strength makes it much less expensive to hire a graphic designer in the Philippines, for example, than one based in central London.
To free up more of your own time, you can also consider outsourcing administrative tasks such as email filtering and phone answering. UK & US-based company Moneypenny has 20 years’ experience in phone answering and virtual receptionist services, while you can hire an overseas PA from a virtual staff website.