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The challenges facing start-ups

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The time is right for self-employment. Competition in the job market is high as redundancies have been made at all levels, firms are cutting back on spending, and more and more incentives are becoming available to those who want to break out on their own. Overall, this makes establishing a business a more attractive proposition than ever before.

With a record number of start-up enterprises set to be established in 2013 – the number is close to half a million, according to figures from StartUp Britain’s Daily Tracker – the appetite for entrepreneurship is high. But only those entrepreneurs who navigate the challenges of starting up, and manage growth carefully, will thrive.

The challenges of starting up

Although there is plenty of support available through initiatives such as the Start Up Loans Company, a government-funded initiative that supplies entrepreneurs with a repayable loan and a business mentor to help get their operation off the ground, the process of establishing a business presents a number of hurdles that must be overcome to find success.

Having worked with small business owners for over a decade, I know that their enthusiasm for realising their idea knows no bounds. The challenge is convincing other people, not least when looking for the finance necessary to invest in areas such as marketing, developing products and taking on staff.

While the banks may be holding their purse strings tight when it comes to lending, thankfully, there are plenty of other options out there. Government backed schemes, private equity and venture capital are traditional routes. However, the internet has facilitated the growth of more unusual alternatives.

We are seeing crowd-sourcing, where small amounts of investment are secured from large groups of people through websites such as Kickstarter and Seedrs, becoming hugely popular. A year since launching in the UK, Kickstarter has revealed that it has helped to provide £17.1m to 1,550 British projects from more than 300,000 backers.

However, funding is not the only area where we are seeing start-ups getting more creative. Entrepreneurs are also devising new ways to get their idea off the ground on modest finance. Many of the small business owners we work with began operating at home with little more than a web presence and the right attitude.

They have got around the issue of how to project a corporate image by taking up virtual office space, which provides an address in a prestigious area to set the sort of impression that helps to win new clients and instil confidence in investors, without incurring the expense of prime commercial property rents.

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