Step 2 | Plan Your Route

Why choose to start a business?

The enterprise option

People increasingly are considering starting a business as the best - if not only - employment option available. Surveys have shown that in the UK this is expected to be the greatest area of employment growth in future years, building on the increase experienced over the past fifteen years. This growth has occurred for several reasons:

  • an increasing recognition of the value of small/medium sized businesses to the economy;
  • changing patterns of work and downsizing of large organisations, creating opportunities for small niche businesses;
  • more and more young people see starting their own business as a valid career choice;
  • an environment which is encouraging enterprise; and,
  • increasing media interest and thus more general interest.

The real value of encouraging enterprise, however, is not just in direct job creation today. With rapidly changing patterns of work, the concept of lifelong employment is now a thing of the past. Already, in the USA, people expect to change not just their jobs, but their careers, four times during their working lives.

These more varied patterns of work in the future will put a premium on people who are adaptable and resourceful - that is, enterprising. Time spent working for yourself can teach skills such as initiative, responsibility and teamworking. Successful small business owners often prove to be extremely employable.

Thus, experience of running a business will be something which people can use in a variety of ways, such as:

  • an experience which will give additional skills and improve their chances of a job with an employer; and,
  • a career alternative at different periods of their working lives.

Definitions of enterprise

The general assumption is to define 'enterprise' in its economic context as a business venture aimed at accruing wealth. A broader definition of enterprise is needed which points out its social and political derivations. This will emphasise self-reliance, self-promotion, etc. It is a spirit of 'getting up and having a go...'. Enterprise is certainly not to be confined to one ideological area - and is definitely not inimical to the development of community spirit. An enterprise can be a venture, project, or undertaking where the community is the main beneficiary rather than the people running the enterprise, or the organisation of any type of event, eg a disco for handicapped people; organising a village outing to a beauty spot; a parents' action group raising funds for a school, or fund-raising, for a political party or a pressure group.

'Enterprising skills' will be needed in any of these undertakings and this leads to another, broader definition of 'enterprise' - personal attributes, such as the ability to:

  • have ideas - to think laterally;
  • do things differently;
  • take initiatives;
  • be a self-starter; and,
  • get things done.

Thus within this definition would fall those who are personally enterprising, perhaps through starting a business; those who are enterprising within a larger company setting; those who are enterprising in launching or running voluntary initiatives, such as Bob Geldof and Band Aid.

For those who do eventually decide to start their own businesses there will be a spectrum from the one-person business to the potential millionaire. For others, a co-op or community business may group the skills required.

Benefits of enterprise to society

"A society where individuals are encouraged to take control of their lives is a society of freedom and growth."
Albert Shapero in his article 'Why Entrepreneurship?'

Enterprise in its broader context can challenge the present economic, political and social systems, and can even lead to improvements in these systems or replace them with a more appropriate alternative because it encourages innovation, initiative, creativity, independence, dynamism and diversity, assuring the continuous development of society. There are clearly benefits to the community through the creation of new businesses and new jobs. The absence of enterprise would result in the stagnation of society as there would be no new ideas.

Enterprise also benefits the individual, as it improves:

  • self-sufficiency;
  • independence;
  • innovation;
  • creativity;
  • communication skills; and,
  • decision making skills.

In addition, it gives people the freedom to make life/work more satisfying, to live life to the full and to take a responsible place in society.

Young people and enterprise

Youth unemployment is affecting increasing numbers of young people who, as a result, feel alienated from the community. There is a need to involve them in the community by encouraging enterprises, whether they are businesses or community ventures. The benefits of encouraging youth enterprise would be of personal value to the young person in acquiring:

  • enterprise skills;
  • enterprise experience;
  • a feeling of responsibility in the community;
  • the recognition and respect of others;
  • confidence; and,
  • the ability to create his/her own job and earn a living.

Requirements of an enterprise

The requirements of an enterprise may be summed up as follows:

  • initiating ideas - generating the initial proposal;
  • research and design - investigating the feasibility of the business proposal and developing it into an enterprise;
  • resourcing - funding, obtaining advice and expertise;
  • marketing - promoting and selling the enterprise;
  • running - administering and evaluating the enterprise; and,
  • evaluation and feedback - monitoring what is happening in the business and responding appropriately.


The resources needed may be classed under five headings:

  • financial - banks, grants, loans;
  • expertise in enterprise - business/technical skills - training courses, legal knowledge, money management;
  • personal support - agencies, counsellors, contacts;
  • premises - renting, leasing; and,
  • equipment - renting, leasing, etc.
  • Let us look at those in more detail.


In addition to the usual range of loans and grants that may be available to anyone starting in business, there are often specific funds available which young people might tap.

Also, keep an eye open for competitions and award schemes that may be available. Prizes often include help and advice, as well as cash.


Most people, even if they have suitable vocational skills, will still have to learn appropriate business skills. A range of training courses exists; indeed, going on a course can be one way of deciding if starting a business is really the right route for you.

Local Enterprise Agencies will be able to help either directly through their counsellors or by calling in expert help as required.

Other local groups, such as youth clubs, may also be able to help, either with expertise or with the loan of equipment. Some organisations lend out tools, for example. Others may have computing facilities available.

Personal support

People will often look to their business counsellor or careers officer or adviser for a great deal of support and encouragement, particularly if they have little support from their family.

Young people, are often in a good position to beg and borrow support. For example, a group of ten design businesses laid on an exhibition of their work at which they were invited to exhibit in London. They persuaded the Burton Group to provide all the display boards and lights required and British Rail provided them with free travel.


In many areas there are 'managed workspaces' which are able to provide rented space, often partially subsidised, and a range of common services which may include typing, photocopying, telephone answering, etc. Often counselling and other support services are also available on-site.

If this sort of space is not available, or is inappropriate, then can the business be started from home? If not, your local enterprise agency will be able to advise on finding premises and on leases.


Instead of splashing out lots of money on brand-new or even second-hand equipment that you don't use very often, why not hire or even borrow? Check with the library or ask your business counsellor if there is a community resource centre in your area. Perhaps you could hire some of your equipment out and raise lots of money. Why not form or join an equipment pool?