On the other side, for anybody trying to start up a business as a sole trader it is far more encouraging to do it in UK as you don´t have to pay the social security payments you have to pay in Spain when the business is starting.
"Spain requires a minimum of about €250 / month social security payments every month. This isn't so bad once you are generating a reasonable profit, but if your revenues are small while starting up, which may take years, this could kill your business. In contrast, the minimum National Insurance contribution in the UK is only £2.75 / week (about €15 / month), and it's even possible to exempt yourself from this if you don't earn much."
When I was studying in Spain, I used to help my younger brother with his studies (mainly maths). I used to enjoy doing it and he used to be very motivated to do his best, so it was a very pleasant activity that helped me to learn better what I was teaching.
Even though I never asked for it, my parents used to pay me as I supposed they considered me something like a private tutor, what was very nice. I used to do it because I wanted to help my brother and also I enjoyed it, so the payment was a substantial bonus.
And that was the beginning...
Soon I had another student (who was in my brother´s class) asking me for private classes. And later, parents who were friends of my parents were asking me to teach their children... This was a very interesting experience as never I thought about it and in fact I taught to some people but I did not continue for long as I was starting going to university and I was very busy.
Everything started because of helping my brother. Never I thought about making a business, looking for a niche market or doing a business plan. However, the income it gave me at that age and time was very interesting.
There are a lot of help to thinking about starting a business. For example:
In many libraries you can have access to COBRA and other market databases. Cobra provides very useful business information.
Thinking about starting a business can look as something risky, difficult, laborious, etc. And even the legalities, paperwork, permissions, etc. can discourage somebody to start-up. On the other side, encouraging new businesses can be a good way to reduce unemployment. If young people try to start a business, the experience can be a very useful one, regardless of how much successful it is.
When thinking about doing complex business plans it can feel too complex to start it. That is why I like thinking creatively about it. How to start it easily? How to start small with possibility to escalate? How to "test the water" without committing too much time or money?
A good starting point could be to use one of the best creative thinking tools: ASKING QUESTIONS.
Asking questions can be a very long process with many details to ask. However, let´s think which are the simplest questions to ask that will help somebody to start a business? How to encourage people to think about business in a engaging way? SIMPLE!
1. What do you love doing? What are you good at?
2. What problem in the world could be solved using that skill/activity?
What problems can you solve?
3. How can be money made out of it?
If we compare these questions with my experience at a young age as a private tutor, I started doing it because I wanted to help my brother and because I enjoyed doing it (without thinking whether I was good at it or not).
The problem I solved was that my brother needed help with maths (myself previously had private tutors previously). And for my parents, the problem of having to look for somebody to do it.
This last question is a very interesting one, as when I started helping my brother I was not expecting obtaining money. However, my parents were very happy to pay me (I did not ask for it) and later other parents of other children were very happy to pay me too.
Going back to other questions to be asked when thinking about starting a business, there are two very common questions:
What is your niche market?
What is your USP (Unique Selling Point), what make you different than other competitors?
When thinking about niche market, you could start thinking about providing a service or product to a specific niche market. Other way of doing it is to start testing the business and learning which niche market seems more interested, so that you can focus your marketing efforts into that niche market.
About the USP, this is a very interesting question for me, as I believe that Creative Thinking can help a lot with doing something different. It is not only about doing something different, but about something valuable that is different than the others. Maybe there is an aspect of the business, such as costumer service that is specially looked after. Or maybe there is a radical difference about the idea, the business model, the combination of services or/and products, the costumer experience.
Why linking simplicity with creativity, maths and business?
There is a concept that I learnt when doing maths, that was the concept of ELEGANCE. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elegance
about solving maths problems as simply as possible.
Related to this concept is OCCAM´S RAZOR
(the fewer assumptions that are made, the better)
To finish, I want to mention something that I never thought when I was a teenager. I was not doing it to make money or to build a business. If now I was thinking to making that activity as a business, I would think more about how to escalate it, how to increase the benefits. When I was a private tutor and my parents started paying me money for it I felt a bit guilty, as I thought it was too much. And the same used to happen with the other children. I thought I was paid too much (but of course, I never complaint about it). I just tried to do my best.
So, how could I have escalated the "hobby" and make it into a business? Ideas that come to my mind are, for example:
Using my clients to sell them other products or services http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cross-selling
Thinking carefully at the pricing strategy and linking it with marketing initiatives
When I was thinking that I was charging too much, I could have been more creative and thought about different ways of choosing my price, such as "Pay what you want" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pay_what_you_want
With the use of the internet, I could develop a website where student can book and pay sessions online looking at the availability of my timetable using websites such as http://www.vcita.com/, or http://www.bookfresh.com/bookfresh
I could have searched old past exam papers, do them and sell them from my website as downloads using something like http://www.e-junkie.com/
I could use some marketing idea such as giving a free session when introducing a new student or discounts according to the number of sessions per month.
Free ebook about low cost marketing tips can be found in http://www.smarta.com/media/3527460/final_ebook_smarta_printed_ebook_130213a.pdf
Other tips for low cost marketing can be found in:
One pricing strategy that always has caught my attention is FREEMIUM http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freemium It reminded me when I was being taught maths and I was offered to attend a session for free at an academy where they were teaching physics. I tried, I enjoyed and then I started paying to have physics classes, as they were very enjoyable and useful, making it easier to understand.
This freemium model suggests me that I could have done some volunteering (maybe once a month in a school) as a way of marketing so that if there were parents interested, they could book me for weekly sessions.