A great place to start up your business
One of the key choices faced by a new business owner is exactly where to locate their fledgling enterprise.
Traditional advice will point you to a fairly limited range of premises choices, which will vary in attraction and relevance depending on the type of venture you’re aiming to start. These will include:
- at home.
- in a business incubator unit.
- in a managed workspace unit.
- in commercial premises.
Starting at home has its attractions, but also many distractions and hazards. Starting in incubator units or managed workspace can be at a low or reasonable cost and commitment, but may not be ideal for your plans at the very earliest stages and unless you’re starting a retail shop, café, pub etc, renting commercial premises will be a step out of reach for most new ventures.
But what about having a place to locate your enterprise before you even start trading, while you’re still doing all the planning, preparation and research, and when your only business assets are those in your head and in your iPhone or BlackBerry?
And what if this place was so ideal that when you begin trading for real, you can also base yourself there, for a little while at least, totally free of charge?
Does such a place exist? This can’t be real, can it?
Yes indeed – and there’s at least one based in just about every major town and city around the UK, and most of them are open every Monday to Friday and possibly Saturday as well.
But not only that, in these widely available locations, you’ll also usually have the advantage of the following:
- Someone knowledgeable on-hand to give you advice and help you to research and plan the start up of your venture.
- Access to the Internet and databases to help you with finding suppliers and analysing your competitors.
- A desk to sit at where you can prepare your business plan and get all your ideas sorted out.
- A wealth of market reports to read, both in hard copy and online, to help you thoroughly research your market.
- Often a place to grab a cup of tea or coffee and have initial meetings with key business contacts.
- A range of trade publications, magazines and newspapers to help you understand your sector and develop your marketing plan.
- Occasional seminars and workshops covering key business skills needed by new entrepreneurs.
- If you can’t physically get in to these places, you can usually get access to their resources online.
OK, then, so where are these secret, totally under-publicised locations which are a great place to locate yourself before you start trading?
Your local public library.
Every city and major UK town will have a business reference section based in the main library, and sometimes out in the branch libraries as well. Libraries also employ staff whose specific purpose, among other things is to help people like you who are thinking of starting or are already up and running in business.
And if you are based near or ever have reason to visit London on a business trip to meet potential customers, attend a trade show or for general business matters, then you can do a lot worse than drop in to the British Library Business and IP Centre (located next door to Kings Cross/St Pancras stations).
The Business and IP Centre can be used as a convivial yet professional venue to meet your business contacts, and you could also consider joining as a business member upon which you will benefit from access to the centre’s range of information and professional services, which are second to none. There are also fully accredited business advisers on hand to provide you with guidance should you need it.
Now while we may be pushing it a little bit to suggest that you should go into your library every single day, for weeks on end, and stick its address on your business cards, you will do yourself no harm and give yourself a flying start by taking advantage of this very useful and under-utilised public service.
To find your nearest library and whether it has a business section, go to this directory of UK Public Libraries.
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