THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Innovation and enterprise blog

7 posts from October 2019

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.

Funding

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:

Licences

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.

Insurance

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 www.gov.uk/companieshouse 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:

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

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

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

✅ 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)

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

✅ 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 £10,000 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.

09 October 2019

Follow JRPass' Director through the Innovating for Growth programme: Financial management 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 £10,000 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 product innovation 1:1, intellectual property 1:1marketingbrandingintellectual propertyfinancial managementproduct innovationmarketing strategybranding and research and developing a growth strategy on our blog. In his latest diary entry, Haroun has his second session on financial management...

Japan Rail Pass Guide
Photo courtesy of JRPass

If you have been following the blog you will know that at JRPass we are in the midst of planning another website offering new services. Over the past few months we have used the sessions on branding, marketing and product innovation to develop this further. This time, the second of the finance sessions, was really helpful as we dived in-depth into modelling with the adviser from Metavalue.

We have a couple of options on new partnerships for the website, so the main focus of the discussion was which of these would be the most viable option. The conversation involved our margin, potential site visitors, conversion rate, payment costs, staffing costs, average basket size and advertising/marketing budget. After we got grip of all these numbers and worked out a financial template, we agreed that the following assumptions and points would have to be further investigated:

  • Before any additional mark-up the initial business could be low-margin so it will be important to control costs.
  • We made assumptions on support costs and UK vs Japan-based staff. These would have to be validated.
  • It is important to test all the inputted data and update them as we start trading, for example average order sizes and conversion rates. Pirate analytics (yes, I said ‘Pirate’) will help as these allow you to track data on visitors, post per acquisition etc. A useful guide on start-up metrics can be found here.
  • Briefly, we also touched on a previous conversation about potential exit routes. Pitchbook news and Crunchbase were mentioned as good sources of news and information.

There's only one more session left and on in my final blog, for the benefit of prospective applicants, I will talk about how I feel you can get the best out of the scale-up course. Also, whilst we are talking about budgeting, inspired by all these spreadsheets and finance chat, we wrote a blog on budgeting for a trip to Japan.


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

04 October 2019

Start-up Day: What’s going on at the British Library

Start-up Day promo banner

With Start-up Day 2019 drawing closer, we take a look at what’s going on in London and introduce you to some of our speakers…

Whether you’re looking for motivation, practical advice or some tailored advice, Start-up Day is for you. Our full day of free talks in the Knowledge Centre cover a range of business topics, from UK trends, advertising, mental health and more, you’ll be able to apply what you learn directly to you and your business practices.

If you want to know more about the UK market trends, Mintel’s Jack Duckett will be looking at the ‘experience economy’ and how businesses can stay relevant in today’s competitive market.

Jack Duckett
Jack specialises in reports exploring, the attitudes and behaviours of different demographic groups.

How do you combine profit with purpose? 24% of last year’s Start-up Day attendees said their motivation to start a business was the opportunity to make a difference. With our partners at Expert Impact, we’ve brought today a panel of case studies to discuss how they built a thriving business that helps makes the world a better place and how you might be able to maximise the positive difference you make as you turn your business idea into a reality. Moderated by Lee Mannion, Head of Communications and Community at Expert Impact

Lee Mannion
Lee Mannion is the communications manager for Expert Impact. He previously worked as a journalist for four years, writing stories about social enterprises for the Thomson Reuters Foundation and Pioneers Post.

If advertising is causing you confusion, Arjun from the Facebook Family of Apps will be talking you through how to define your advertising goals, reaching your target audience and how to measure a successful advertising campaign and more. This talk will not be webcast.

Arjun Paliwal Facebook
Arjun Paliwal, Strategic Partner for the Facebook Family of Apps.

Mental health impacts both business and personal lives and at last year’s Start-up Day, 16% of people said they wanted to start a business to improve their work/life balance. At our talk on how to build a business without burning out, Mind’s Mental Health at Work Campaign, presented by Dane Krambergar, and Julie Deane OBE, founder of Cambridge Satchel Company will arm you with strategies to keep on-track when it all gets a bit too much.

Dane Krambergar - Mind
Dane Krambergar, Head of Workplace Wellbeing Services.

Whether the idea of networking can fill you with dread or confidence, to build a sustainable business, networking is key. Our panel will talk you through how they mastered the art of building their networks to allow their businesses to grow.

Ken Davey
Ken is an experienced business to business corporate sales specialist and SME business owner, mentor, author and international business advisor, with a strong business development, marketing, commercial and financial management background.

20% of 2018’s Start-up Day attendees said that lack of finance held them back from starting a business, but can you start-up on a shoestring? Our panel, founders of We Built This City, BathrommsByDesign and Pip & Nut, share their hints and tips for keeping costs low as you scale your business.

Sam Colwil
Sam, founder of BathroomsByDesign, a multi-channel retailer who invest heavily in proprietary technology to help service customers more effectively with our 3D design software, customer VR app, online shop, customer portal and ERP system.

Holding the day together will be Lisa Bent, a presenter, writer and qualified Counsellor, best known for her radio show Self-Central on Colourful Radio and host for the Precious Lifestyle Awards and Precious Nights.

Lisa Bent
Lisa Bent

Our keynote speaker will be Steph McGovern, journalist and broadcaster.

Steph has progressed from Black & Decker engineer to BBC Breakfast business reporter and co-presenter as well as fronting Watchdog, Pocket Money Pitch, Made in Great Britain, and Shop Well For Less. In the process, she’s been trained in lean production, explained monetary and economic policy, danced an impromptu Irish jig live on-air – and been subject of an awkward mistaken identity in Grimsby Fish Market.

Steph McGovern
Steph McGovern

It isn’t just our free talks taking place on the day, we have a workshop on how to use the Business & IP Centre, plus a tour; free headshots and advice on how business photography and speed mentoring.

Experts will be on hand throughout the day to give advice on a range of topics including:

  • Protecting your business idea
  • Creating a marketing strategy
  • What you need to know about standards and regulations
  • Managing cash-flow
  • Getting your business online
  • Funding your start-up
  • Building your business brand

To book your place or to find the closest Start-up Day to you, visit our event page.

01 October 2019

Start-up Day 2019 - What's going on in the Start-ups in London Libraries boroughs

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Start-up Day takes place on 11 October and the libraries involved in our brand new Start-ups in London Libraries programme did not want to miss out on being a part of the BIPC's biggest day of the year. For the first time ever, events will not only be taking place across the country in our BIPCs but also in the SiLL London boroughs - Bexley, Croydon, Greenwich, Haringey, Lambeth, Lewisham, Newham, Southwark, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest. The London boroughs have drawn on their local resources and localised knowledge to bring specific start-up advice to each of their business communities.

There are activities going on from morning to evening across our partner boroughs. For more details, have a look below and click on any of the links to register our place in your local borough:

Morning

Some of our boroughs are taking part in our co-ordinated coffee morning which is a great chance for networking and to meet your local Champion. If you are close to Walthamstow Library, Brixton Library, the Woolwich Centre or Bexley’s Central Library, register your place at these links and pop along for a coffee and a chat.

If you’re looking for advice on digital marketing, stay on at Woolwich Library for a workshop on the topic, which will aim to help you identify the right channels for your business and give you advice on building your digital community through them. This is followed by a workshop on personal branding between 13.30 and 14.30.

From 10.30-13.00, Croydon will be having a mammoth Start-up Roadshow, with local exhibitors, such as Croydon Enterprise Loan Fund and Croydon Business Hub, and organisations like Santander who will be on-hand to offer guidance and advice. It’s also a great opportunity to network so make sure to book your spot if you are near South London and head to Croydon Central Library for that.

Between 11.00-12.00 and 14.00-15.00, Tower Hamlets will be running introductory sessions to the library business resources at Idea Store Whitechapel. These workshops will take you through key information sources accessible in your library that can help enhance your business performance. Attendees can also use their own smartphones to access the Council website and be guided by staff to some of the services that have moved online. To request more information on Tower Hamlets’ Start-up Day offering, please email the local Champion.

People networking at Start-ups in London Libraries workshop

Afternoon

If you aren’t able to make it to the British Library for our jam packed afternoon of talks, some of the borough libraries are live streaming the panels and speeches direct to their libraries. You can find these at:

If you need help researching your market and protecting your idea, some of the boroughs are focusing on COBRA – the Complete Business Reference Advisor – Southwark is running a whole day training session on the system which you can book for here, while Newham is running a session on the system as well which is bookable here.

Lambeth’s afternoon session will be between 12.00 and 13.45 and will be led by Drew London, a Lambeth-based branding and digital communications agency. The masterclass will be on branding and digital communications so head to Brixton Library if this is an area you are looking to focus on and are looking for tried and tested advice.

Lewisham will be hosting Santander who will give a talk on several topics such as cybersecurity (14.00 – 14.45), funding and finance (15.00 – 15.45) and starting a business on a shoestring (16.00 – 16.45) at Lewisham Library. With time for questions, it is sure to be a comprehensive afternoon with expert advice on starting up.

Participant talking during workshop

Evening

We are not 9-5 people in the boroughs so we also have some events taking place in the evening. If you are based near Haringey, there will be a talk on how to grow your Business and Client Base using Digital Media with local partners from Visual Marvelry, 4U2 and Frame Perfect

SEO is a term that can be thrown around yet still remain a bit of a mystery, yet it's integral to getting your business' name out there. Newham aim to help debunk it by running an evening talk by SEO expert, Mike Loomey, on making the most of Google for your business.

Lewisham will be hosting evening networking drinks between 17.00-18.00, while Lambeth’s drinks event is in collaboration with Brixton Bid until 18.30.

Two participants talking and networking

So whether you decide to hop around different boroughs on the day or choose one and soak up everything that borough has to offer, Start-up Day is sure to have something that will set you on the road to making your idea a reality.

You can find a round up each of the borough’s booking links (where applicable) below:

Follow JRPass' Director through the Innovating for Growth programme: Product Innovation 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 £10,000 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 intellectual property 1:1, marketingbrandingintellectual propertyfinancial managementproduct innovationmarketing strategybranding and research and developing a growth strategy on our blog. In his latest diary entry, Haroun has his second session on product innovation...

HelloKitty train
Photo courtesy of JRPass

I can’t believe there are only a couple of sessions left until the end of the programme. The three months have gone like a blur, so I’m happy to have these follow ups to reinforce what we have previously explored. This week we had the second product innovation one-to-one and as part of that we had talked about optimising the payments workflow, since then the PSD2 SCA deadline for European payments passed on September 14thYou can read about how this affects JRPass customers payments on our own blog here. As we were ready and had successfully updated our systems it meant we are also one of the first UK companies to allow payment via UK Open Banking. This enables our UK customers to pay directly from their bank account with immediate payment and not have to use a debit or credit card. It may take a while for UK customers to get used to paying in this way but it is popular in many other countries and it is good to offer our customers as many payment options as possible and be ahead of the technology curve.

We also discussed our new affiliate marketing service and I was happy to inform them that I am currently hiring for this role to push this forward. We are also looking to staff roles for developing relationships with regional tourism boards in Japan. With the Tokyo 2020 Olympics next year there is a big opportunity to encourage travellers to discover lesser known parts of the country. We are already investing in site content to support these first time travellers, for example a recent blog on tips for first time travellers to Japan

 

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