Emma Jones, Founder of Enterprise Nation

It feels hard to use the word ‘opportunity’ at the moment but in previous downturns we’ve seen a gradual surge in the number of people exploring the world of self-employment and we are expecting this to happen again over the coming months.

There is always an element of necessity entrepreneurship in line with rises in unemployment, but the fact is that starting a business, or a side hustle while holding down a job, is much more mainstream now compared to previous recessions. It’s never been easier and more affordable to start small and bootstrap using digital tools. Business advice is plentiful right now – and much of it is free. Using online platforms for products and services and social media for promotion could not be more accessible.

In the last recession, the up-tick in start-ups took a while to begin from the depths of 2008, but we are seeing signs that it will be more rapid, with June being the highest month on record for the number of new company formations.

If this appeals to you, here are steps to take to get started:

Come up with an idea and test it

I always tell people to ask themselves three questions: ‘Is there a gap in the market?’, ‘What is your passion/hobby/skill’, ‘Is there something out there that someone else is doing that I could do better?’ Test it – it doesn’t have to be expensive. If it’s a food product, set up trials with friends and family and ask for feedback on taste and price; if it’s a service, do an online survey and ask what people think is a fair price and what they’d expect in return.

Create a business plan

What goes into a business plan? A good way to look at this is I’M OFF. Idea, Market, Operations, Financials and Friends (friends include advisers and those who can help you along the way). Download a free business plan template from our StartUp Kit.

Bootstrap

One of the most important lessons in business and in achieving profitability is how to use resources efficiently. Use Dropbox and digital tools like google docs and free time management apps like Toggl. Accounting software like Xero is essential – so you’re ready to invoice and keep good records. If you do need finance, look for investment that comes with advice, like a Start Up Loan. Look out for classes where you can pick up skills. Grab your URL and build a website. There are plenty of easy-build website packages you can get like Shopify or go to the Enterprise Nation marketplace to find peer-rated experts and advisers.

Get yourself out there and make sales

Start with social media, it’s free and can quickly get you noticed. LinkedIn is essential for B2B and Instagram if you’re in fashion or food; a Twitter and Facebook page is a must. Invest in good images.

Focus on what you do best and outsource the rest

Once you start to see sales, you need to think about growing your capacity. Outsource jobs to contractors and freelancers, copywriters, PR and digital marketing are good examples of things that work well. As the business grows, you’ll be able to give up the job and hire your own winning team.

Emma Jones is Founder of Enterprise Nation