Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Invest NI - offering support and advice to all entrepreneurs

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster with Ryan Daly, winner of the Northern Bank Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and Kevin Kingston, MD Business & Corporate Banking, Northern Bank. Ryan, 29, started his company Daly Renewables in August 2010. The Lisburn company designs, installs, commissions and provides maintenance for bespoke under floor heating and renewable energy systems.

With youth unemployment at record highs, one way for young people to get a job is to start their own business.

A recent report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has revealed that a rising number of people are going into business for themselves. The challenging employment market has led swathe of people having a go at running their own businesses.

The report also suggests that this trend is across a wide number of typically public employment sectors such as education, information and communications, financial and insurance services and public administration.

So how do you start a business during a downturn?

Most businesses will attest that starting a business is tough not just during a recession but at all times. The key to success is having a strong business idea which is so niche, so focussed, and so special that you can find your customers and sell to them even in tough economic conditions.

One thing is for sure is that if you start a business during a downturn it is likely that things can only get better as the economic climate improves. You can learn a lot in the difficult times and the lessons you learn can be used to improve and grow your business when times get better.

Many people start businesses based on the needs and market gaps they have identified themselves. Those frustrating moments when the products and services offered to you by existing businesses just won't do, can be your opportunity to profit and succeed.

Invest Northern Ireland offers a wide range of support and guidance to entrepreneurs of all ages supporting them to develop better business ideas, develop better business plans and most importantly getting those business ideas into the market place so they can be sold and generate profit.

A key principle in developing your business is to keep it simple, and answer the immediate need that you know is out there. Remember if you found this gap and it frustrated you, there's probably others out there with the same the needs and frustrations.

Most young people already have a lot of the tools and knowledge they need to take their business to an international market and some don't even know they have. Many of them will already have access to a laptop and a mobile phone. With these two devices you can get your business up, running and selling.

The key to this is maximising the potential of the tools and sales channels you already have. Developing an online selling strategy as part of your business plan can press fast forward on your start up story. Use of the internet enables a new business to reach niche markets across the globe for a relatively small investment.

Let's not pretend it's all plain sailing. You will need finance to get your business up and running but you don't always need huge capital investment. With the right planning and well thought out business plans you can get your business up and running with modest resources. As your business develops the profits you generate and your business plan can then be used to secure support from banks, family and Invest NI of course.

Building on the existing support already available to young people who want to start a business, a specific measure has been developed within Invest NI's Jobs Fund which provides a £1,500 incentive grant to young people (aged between 16 and 24) Not in Employment Education or Training (NEET) who complete a business plan with support from Invest NI and other stakeholders and start up.

If you want to start a business we can help you. Your first step should be to contact Invest Northern Ireland through one of our Regional Offices. Our advisors can help you develop a business plan and get your business started phone us on 0800 027 0639 or log on to our website at www.goforitni.com and get started.

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