How to Start a Business Whilst on Universal Credit

When you’re living solely off of universal credit, it can sometimes make you feel stuck. You might think you don’t have the same opportunities that other people have, and that doing something like starting your own business is just a pipedream. But that’s not necessarily the case. Just because you might not have a huge amount of disposable income, doesn’t mean you can’t fulfil your hopes and dreams, you might just have to take a different route. If starting a business is what you desire, this is something you can bring to life, whether you’re on universal credit or not. In this article, we are going to look at some of the things to consider when starting a business as a person on universal credit.

What You Need to Get Started

There’s an incredible amount of resources online that you can’t afford to neglect – many of these are at little to no cost. It’s recommended that you seek business advice (check out the government’s website), as depending on where you are in the UK, you should be able to chat to somebody who can answer any questions you have about starting up your business, free of charge. If you don’t have this opportunity though, you also have the option to scour business forums and articles online to answer any of your startup questions.

As well as this, the innovative software available to businesses starting up can prove to be invaluable, from web building to invoice creation. This is especially important once you start to hire your first employees. For example you can use payroll software designed specifically for small businesses which is totally affordable (£7 a month on the lowest tier). Its easy to use, and will make your accounting process a whole lot easier. When you have so much on your plate already as a new business owner, the assistance of smart technology can really ease the pressure, especially when everything is new to you.

Now, if you do need additional funding to get your business off the ground then you should consider grants, loans, financial support from family and friends, angel investors, crowdfunding or anything similar. If your business idea is viable and there’s a gap in the market for it, then people will want to get on board and support it. With this kind of thing, sometimes it’s not what you know, it’s who you know – for instance, if you have a connection who is like-minded and wants to join forces, you could create a partnership. Then you’d share costs and workloads, which could work better in the long run.

How to Come Up with a Business Plan

Before you get started it helps if you have an in-depth business plan (check out this primer for more info). Now, this doesn’t have to cost a penny – all you need to put into it is your time and consideration. By doing this thoroughly, you will get a better idea of what you need to do to achieve your aims. You need to list the products and services you plan to provide, your USP, a brand name, brand colours, your goals, a budget plan, who’s involved, how you’re going to market your business, and so on. Although this sounds like a lot to think about, you don’t have to rush it. There are plenty of free business plan templates online you can utilise as a point of reference.

Having all the important information to start you off laid out in front of you will allow you to come up with ideas and make them a reality. With a comprehensive business plan, you can also anticipate any errors that may crop up along the way. If money is a concern, your business plan needs to note any costs involved, if you can get a grant or loan, when you expect to build an income and anything else that is relevant.

Key Steps to Starting a Business

Once you have your business plan in place, how do you actually get started? Well, it depends on your business in question, but these are some of the typical steps startups need to take:

  • Register the business with the government (you’ll need to decide what type of business ownership you want – e.g. a partnership or limited company etc.)
  • Set up a business bank account to track income and outgoings
  • Get everything in place and put your research in – this could be stock, a workplace or venue, all the equipment you need, etc.
  • Market your business – in this day and age, you’re probably going to need a website and social media, or you could try more traditional marketing methods like leaflet handouts or face-to-face networking.
  • Find customers of clients – following on from your marketing, you will hopefully garner some interest. Encourage word-of-mouth recommendations to spread the news about your business. You could offer first-time discounts or welcome events to get your brand name recognised locally.

How to do Market Research

Although you’re aware you need to do your marketing to draw attention to the business, you’ll need to ensure you’re aiming your efforts at the right audience. This calls for market research. There are various methods you consider, such as simple surveys to discover who’s interested in what you have to offer, interviews, or focus groups. You’re going to want to think of insightful questions that will allow you to recognise who exactly would pay for your offerings, how much they’d pay, how often, when and why. This will give you an idea of how you can reel the right people in when it comes to it, meaning you’ll be able to target your marketing accordingly.

All in All…

Starting your own business is an incredible thing to do, and is something that should be an option for everyone, no matter their income. The hard work and effort you put in should pay off eventually if you make smart moves, plan carefully, and make the most of the resources available to you.

Hopefully, a few years down the line, your venture will have paid you back in multiples of what you put in, although you do have to be patient. If it does all work out, the benefits are endless: you’ll be your own boss, you’ll get to see your business grow from strength to strength, you’ll challenge yourself, control your work/life balance, and drive your own success. Although there’s no doubt it’ll be difficult and stressful at times, that’s all part of the package. 

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