Innovation and enterprise blog

The British Library Business & IP Centre can help you start, run and grow your business


This blog is written by members of the Business & IP Centre team and some of our expert partners and discusses business, innovation and enterprise. Read more

18 October 2019

Generation Z - the new breed of entrepreneur

This week, Companies House discuss their latest campaign #GetBizzy, designed to encourage Generation Z to enter into the world of business ownership. If you're a Generation Z-er, read on for some considerations to take into account before leaping into your new career...

Generation Z, or people born between 1995 and 2010, are set to become the most entrepreneurial generation we've ever seen. This is reflected in the number of young directors aged 16-24 on the Companies House register, which has grown by 35% over the last 5 years from 87,477 in 2014 to 117,810 as of July this year.

Many young people will have dreams of becoming the next big YouTube personality, E-Sports superstar or reality TV sensation. With the success of PewDiePie, Jaden Ashman (runner up in the Fortnite world championship) and the popularity of Love Island, it’s hardly surprising. But the chances of succeeding on these career paths are very low.

For most it’s a choice between working for someone or working for yourself. Being employed has benefits such as greater job security, a regular income and fixed hours. So, you can switch off at the end of the day, go home and relax. It’s also likely that you’ll be working with others, which is a great opportunity to make new friends and network.

While this all sounds great, being in a 9 to 5 job can restrict your creativity and may limit your ability to decide what you actually do in the workplace. Your work will need to meet the expectations of your employer and your pay will be dictated by the pay structure of the company. Then there’s the boss. Great if you get on with them, but what if you don’t? 

For these reasons, many Gen Zs are choosing to forge their own career and start their own business. Being your own boss can be incredibly exciting and rewarding, especially if you’re turning your passion into a business. But it can also be risky and challenging. Before you start your business venture – or embark on your growth journey - there are a few things worth considering to make sure the future success of your business empire.    

Do you have what it takes?

Ask yourself. Do I really want to operate independently and be the person making all the decisions and shouldering the responsibility? Are you willing to put in the hours and make the sacrifices necessary to start a business? Do you have the self-confidence and self-discipline to persevere and build your business into a success?

If you answered yes, then it looks like you've got the right attitude. We’ve all heard of famous successful entrepreneurs like Sir Alan Sugar, JK Rowling and Sir Richard Branson. But for every famous business person there will be hundreds of other plumbers, shopkeepers, hairdressers and other small companies in your locality who also run successful, profitable small businesses.

Research and planning

As the old saying goes, “fail to prepare, prepare to fail”. Many businesses fail because of the lack of research and planning. At the British Library Business and IP Centre, there is plenty of support and advice needed to make your business a success. With workshops, events, databases, publications and industry guides, all the essential information is on hand to help you start and grow your business.

For any new potential venture, a business plan is a critical document covering the essentials of setting and achieving your business objectives. Although it may seem a tough exercise to undertake, it's worth it in the long run. A business plan is a written document that sets out your company goals, objectives and the strategies you’ll use to achieve growth. These are crucial to the success of any business; not only do they provide a clear path for you to follow, but they also help you keep track of your goals and allow you to make changes if necessary.

If you’re a business hoping to secure investment from funding bodies or other entrepreneurs, you’ll need to have a business plan to convince them that you are worth their time and money. It’s a competitive market – thousands of businesses vie for the attention of investors across the UK every day, so if you want them to choose you, you need to give them a good enough reason.

Decide what type of business is best for you

What type of business structure is best for your start up? There are different types to choose from. The most common types are sole trader, a limited company or partnership. Each have their own pros and cons.  Starting out as a sole trader is a popular choice because it’s quick and easy to start and set up, with minimal costs. Many businesses change their structure as they expand and grow. Being or becoming a limited company can bring increased tax-efficiency, as well as limited liability.

Another key benefit of starting or becoming a limited company is the improving image in the eyes of your customers. Incorporation may give you more of a professional edge by showing everyone that you’re a legitimate setup.

It’s important that you familiarise yourself with these so that you know what type of business structure will be best for you and what your responsibilities will be.


For your business to survive, you need money to cover all your start-up costs, the costs of running the business and also have enough for you to live on. It can be months before a new business is profitable and generating a cash surplus. You may need alternative sources of income during this period, if only to cover your outgoings.

Almost all new start-up businesses require some form of funding. Many entrepreneurs turn to their bank, but there are other numerous options to boost initial working capital requirements. You could use savings, get a loan from family or friends or there may be government-backed schemes or loans available in your area.

Choose an appropriate business name and branding

No matter what business structure you choose you will need a name. First impressions count, so make sure you put plenty of thought into choosing a name and brand for your business. Try to be unique and pick something suitable that will help differentiate your business from your competitors.

It’s obvious that you don’t want to use something that is already being used by someone else. Checking the trade mark database on the Intellectual Property Office website and using the company name checker on the Companies House website is a good starting point. But there is also a chance that someone is using a name that they haven’t registered anywhere. So professional advice is worthwhile before you invest money in your new shopfront, business cards and stationery.    

When it comes to branding, remember that this is where your company personality shines through – so make it memorable! Think about the images, colours and fonts that will help attract customers and make you stand out from the crowd. Use your creativity while aiming to capture the essence of your product and yourself.

Dealing with legalities

The slightly less exciting but equally important part of starting or growing a business is dealing with the legal requirements. It’s a good idea to research each part of your business and speak to experts about the legal issues you might face. There are plenty to consider, but here are a few of the obvious ones:


Certain aspects of your business may need a licence - for instance if you are planning to sell food or alcohol. Or if you are a trades-person you may need to register with a trades-group, like the Gas Safe Register.


Employers’ Liability insurance is compulsory if you employ staff. If you don’t have this, you could be fined £2,500 every day you’re not insured. Just think of what you could spend that money on instead!

Other types of insurance depend on your type of business. It’s worth considering public liability insurance and cyber liability insurance (especially in an ever-growing digital world).

The taxman

When you’re running your own business, it’s almost a certainty that you’ll have to pay tax at some point. Depending on your structure, earnings and profits you will need to consider what is applicable to your business. Income tax, national insurance, corporation tax, VAT and business rates may be payable.  If you’re in any doubt about what taxes your business might be subject to and when you might have to pay them, speak to your accountant or HMRC for help. 

A walk in the park

It’s not easy starting a business and becoming a successful entrepreneur. It takes drive, determination, sleepless nights and a bit of luck to realise an idea. Not only do you have to discover that unique product or service, but you also need the courage and strength to take it to market.

If you need any advice about starting out, growing or just want to run your idea past someone, the British Library Business & IP Centre National Network provides entrepreneurs with free access to databases, market research, journals, directories and reports worth thousands of pounds.

There is a programme of free and low-cost events and workshops on a range of topics, including business planning, marketing and intellectual property. The friendly staff and business experts are there to help you start and grow your business.

At Companies House we are encouraging young entrepreneurs to start and grow a business with our #GetBizzy campaign. Take a look at our website and make the most of our tools and resources. You can also help inspire others by sharing information about our campaign and using the hashtag on social media.

Get Bizzy logo-08


Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn on @CompaniesHouse. Visit our website for more information.  

16 October 2019

What are the key takeaways from Start-up Day 2019?

Start-up Day promo banner

If you missed our event, or want a concise recap, here are the main pieces of advice we took away from Start-up Day 2019. You can watch the full videos below, or on our YouTube Start-up Day playlist:

âś… To be the best business leader, don't think you know everything. Be willing to learn and collaborate (Steph McGovern)

âś… Market research can help you make sense of what is happening now and what is going to happen tomorrow (Mintel)

âś… Make connections with your peers and those who are one step ahead of you (How to use networks to build your business)

âś… To get your idea off the ground, you need to find someone who champions it as much as you (How to start-up on a shoestring)

âś… Visibilty and efficiency are key (How to combine profit with purpose)

âś… Don't let your mental health get to breaking point, look after yourself before that (How to build your business without burning yourself out) 

We'll be sharing more top tips from each of the individual talks next week...

14 October 2019

Follow JRPass' Director through the Innovating for Growth programme: Strategy 1:1 Part 2

Each quarter, we pick 18 high-growth businesses to take part in our Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups programme, where businesses receive ÂŁ10,000 worth of tailored and bespoke business support and advice. Not only do businesses gain three months of guidance, they also receive automatic membership to our Growth Club and their own Relationship Manager.

This quarter, we’re following Haroun, Director of JRPass, a train travel company for those exploring Japan by rail. Haroun will talk us through each session as he progresses through the programme to get the successes and challenges of what it’s like to run a growing businesses. You can see Haroun's previous posts about financial management 1:1, product innovation 1:1intellectual property 1:1marketingbrandingintellectual propertyfinancial managementproduct innovationmarketing strategybranding and research and developing a growth strategy on our blog. In his final diary entry, Haroun has his second session on strategy...

Japanese train in station
Photo courtesy of JRPass

Well, here we are at the end of three months, 15 sessions and countless follow-ups. It’s come and gone ever so quickly, so this final strategy one-to-one session gives us a good time to take stock. We went through the findings from the branding, marketing, finance and innovation sessions. The main takeaways were that we have so much scope for growth that I need support, so I will be hiring to capitalise on those opportunities, especially in the areas of marketing and business development. Our expansion plans are pretty clear and we must make sure that we execute properly and as rapidly as is possible. We also need to invest time into research and skills acquisition for our new growth areas.

I have found the scale-up course very useful, especially as a way of giving me the head-space to concentrate on issues that I knew needed to be tackled, but have been too busy for day-to-day. Here are my personal take-aways for anyone considering the course:

  • We are all very busy in the day-to-day running of our businesses but to take full benefit you do need to make time for both the sessions and any follow up tasks to take full benefit. This maybe a truism, but you will only get out as much as you put in.
  • The advisers are exactly that, people to advise you on your current status and next steps. They aren’t there to provide a detailed step-by-step plan. They will vary in how much they know about your industry. You, yourself, ultimately should be the arbiter of what is best for yourself. You’ve done well getting this far in your business, so trust your instincts and use the advisers as neutral external interrogators of your business. This will be where the best value lays.
  • The pace of sessions can be overwhelming at times especially with the day job, so pace yourself, prioritise and plan effectively.
  • Before attending, have a deep think about what you want to get out of the sessions. There will be nagging concerns that you may have about your business and this would be a good opportunity to have those addressed.
  • Enjoy meeting new people, there are lots of fascinating people that attend!

Well, that’s it for me, it’s been fun sharing my experiences. Also, I hope that if you consider a trip to Japan that you’ll consider us! I’ll leave you with our ten top tips for first time travellers.

Thanks, Haroun


Visit our website for more information about Innovating for Growth and how to register your interest for the next application round.