1. Overview

Before you start your business, you need to decide what sort of business it is going to be. This section looks at some of the options available to you and helps you to explain your business idea quickly and succinctly.

2. What sort of business?

A new idea is often the basis for starting a business. For some people getting the idea is the easy part. They know exactly what they want to do and are eager to get on with launching it. For others, they know they want to start a business, but don’t yet have an idea to work with.

If you have decided that you want to start a business, but don’t yet have an idea to work with, the next question to ask yourself is “What sort of business do I want to start?” There are hundreds of options, so let’s look at some of the most common starting points.

  • spot a gap in the market and develop a product or service to fill that gap
  • improve an existing product or service by doing things in a new, different or better way
  • manufacture an existing product by buying in the materials or parts
  • distribute products that you buy from a wholesaler, retailer or manufacturer
  • build a business around the skills, knowledge and experience you’ve gained in previous roles or through your hobbies
  • take up a franchise – a business based on a proven model that has been tried and tested by others in the market
  • buy or take over an existing business.

Use this business idea exercise (MS Word 15kb) to make notes on your business idea.

3. Describing your product or service

Now that you have your business idea, you have to be able to explain it to someone else quickly and succinctly. After all, you may need to source finance from the bank or an investor or you may be applying for a grant, and, of course, you definitely have to describe it to your customers and potential clients. You don’t want to be tongue-tied and struggling to find the right words.

The first step is to understand the features and benefits of your product or service. You also need to know your Unique Selling Point or USP – what is it that sets you and your business apart from your competitors.

Remember, if you are planning to patent your product or want to protect the intellectual property of your service idea, you still need to describe your idea quickly and succinctly but without disclosing your invention. In general, the way to do this is by revealing what your product or service does but not how it does it.

For more information see our Intellectual Property guide

Use this template to help you describe your product or service (MS Word 16kb).