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So you want to start a tech business? – The Big Idea

LightbulbHave you got a great idea for a website, invention or other tech innovation? Find out how you can make it happen – and make some cash.

What skills do I need?

You might not be able to do everything yourself. For example, your idea might require programming skills you don’t yet have. You have a few options if that’s the case:

  • You can pay someone to do the work for you. This could be difficult in the early stages of a business, but is quick.
  • You could learn the skills yourself, which will give you the most flexibility but will take time and energy.
  • You could find a partner: someone who can be part of the business with you and provide skills you don’t have. This will mean you don’t own the whole business, but will let you share the load.

Remember, you don’t just need technical skills to bring your idea to life. You also need to know what you’re doing in business, including:

Where will I get the money?

You’ll probably have startup costs you need to cover: for example, if you need to manufacture stock or pay for web hosting.

  • If you can convince an investor your business will be a success, you might be able to get funding from them.
  • Banks offer business development loans. However, there are very tight restrictions on who can get these, and you will have to pay them back, so this is a risky route.
  • If your costs aren’t too high and you can keep them down, a part-time job might let you fund your business out of your own pocket.

How will I make money?

Even success stories like Twitter can find it difficult to work out how to make money from their idea. Money could come from selling a product or service, or providing something for free on the Internet and posting adverts alongside it. Systems like AdSense and Adbrite make adding advertising to a website quick and easy.

However you choose to make your money, though, you need to have a plan and keep a close watch on how well it’s working.

How do I know my business will be a success?

You can never guarantee a business will succeed, but there are a few things you can do to boost your chances.

You’ll need to try your idea out on people before you commit yourself to your business. Your family and friends can be a good place to start, but you’ll need to go beyond them to people who don’t know. The Internet can be a great place to get lots of opinions from lots of different people – but make sure you protect your idea before you start telling people about it !

You could also use a website like Quirky, GetItMade or Kickstarter to make sure there’s interest in your product before you take too great a risk. These sites let people vote on, invest in or preorder new product ideas so inventors know quickly if they have a chance at success.

Know the law

There are some legal issues you’ll have to deal with when you start a business:

  • Registering your business: Whether you have to register your business depends on how it is structured. As a general guide, you probably won’t have to register unless you start taking outside investment.
  • Tax: If you make enough money, you’ll have to pay income tax on it. This means filling in a tax return every year. You’ll also need to register as self-employed within three months of starting the business, or you might have to pay a fine. Find out more about dealing with tax
  • Protecting your idea: If you’ve had a great idea, you wouldn’t be too pleased to find someone else profiting from it. Take a look at our guide to protecting your idea.

More help

There’s lots more business advice in the Business & Finance section of the Knowledge Bank. The government also runs a free business advice website at http://www.businesslink.gov.uk.