Starting a business | Careers Service

Starting a Business

I am interested in starting my own business and want to find out:


Do I Have What It Takes?

Do I Have What It Takes To Start My Own Business?

You may feel you do not want a career being an employee. Irish students and graduates have shown a particular flair for entreprenuership and many have gone on to successfully create and manage their own companies. Of course this brings with it a particular set of problems, questions and issues that need to be carefully considered. You should read our section on self assessment in conjunction with this guide.

Have you ever asked yourself questions such as:

  • A 9 to 5 job doesn't appeal to me
  • There is a family business I could take on
  • I'm excited by the idea of being my own boss
  • I have a business idea I think could work

Or even questions which have arised due to recent events:

  • For health reasons I need a more flexible career
  • I have recently come into a significant sum of money I could use for investment
  • I'm bored with my present job
  • I have graduated some time ago and am unsure of what to do

Going into business is a very different thing than working for someone else - it could well be a once in a lifetime decision. You will have much more control over dictating your own future: You should ask yourself:

  • Can I trust myself with this responsibility?
  • Would I give myself the job?

Although you will have a particular of yourself and your own strengths, your family, friends and colleagues will inevitably have different views. It is important to solicit honest views from others on what they believe your strengths to be.

Although there is no one clear definition of a successful entrepreneur, there are some qualities that almost all possess. Compare this list to what you and others believe your strengths to be:

  • Persistent, enduring, have loads of stamina
  • Forgiving
  • Sociable, approachable, good leader - can win people over instead of getting their backs up single-minded, decisive, independent
  • Communicator - able to get a point across
  • Opportunist, risk taker, ambitious
  • Aware
  • Positive, optimistic, enthusiastic
  • Tenacious
  • Logical, perceptive, organised, realistic, responsible - good at getting things done
  • Patient
  • Have a sense of humour
  • Willing
  • Creative, imaginative - always the one coming up with new ideas
  • Assertive
  • Out-going, confident, cocky
  • Flexible, adaptable
  • Open-minded - able to take advice
  • Hard working, committed, determined, 'get up and go' type
  • Self-motivated
  • Self-belief, individual - not afraid to stand out from a crowd, or of what others think

How do you compare? How many of those qualities do you possess? You don't need all of them. You may discover that you do possess many of them but have never had to demonstrate it before. It's not easy to get a true picture of yourself. You have to work at this.

You need to meet these 4 criteria:

  1. Be honest
    You are not selling yourself to an employer. There's no point in fooling yourself, exaddurating or waffling about your ability. Face up to what you really are, not what you wish you were. If you don't feel ready for self-employment now, perhaps you will in a few years time, with more experience and qualifications.

  2. Get an opinion
    Different people have different views of you. Talk to someone who you know well, and trust. Get a good range of views. Try to sort out when they have a point (even if it makes you feel uncomfortable) and when they are just trying to make you fit in with an image that happens to suit them. Often, it's a mixture of both.

  3. Prove it
    Wherever possible, look for an example of the qualities that you have identified. If you think you are an organiser, what have you organised? Remember to look at all aspects of your life, not just work experience and qualifications.

  4. Keep notes
    Everyone, young or old should have a file on themselves. It's useful for planning, as well as applying for jobs. The great thing about enterprise is that it helps you to grow and develop as a person. You need to keep track on yourself - what are your strengths and weaknesses? What do you need to learn?

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Making A Business Plan

Making A Business Plan

Researching your business idea and potential market is a vital planning activity.

You need to' suss out the competition' i.e. find out as much as possible about similar businesses. If your business idea is an online venture, for example, you will need to ensure that similar online enterprises are examined and as much information gleaned about them as possible. This will involve asking questions such as:

  • Is this market already overcrowded or perhaps even neglected?
  • Would a suitable premises be available and how important is its location?
  • Why has this idea/product not been produced before?
  • Can a small business compete and what advantages/disadvantages does it offer?
  • Can I sell this product online?

You can also consider a franchise, whereby you run a supported business, especially one with good publicity and brand name. This reduces your risk as the business as it is already a proven success. Well known franchises include McDonalds, O'Briens and The Body Shop.

You will also need to undertake a feasability plan. This determines whether or not your business is likely to work, although it is important to bear in mind that not all factors can be accounted for so it is not a definitive answer! But its important to know the direction you are going in and plan it out first.

In order to develp a feasability plan you need to ask yourself (and get others to ask!):

  • Is the product saleable?
  • Is it in demand?
  • Will it sell?
  • Will it be profitable?

For example, if you are going to use some new technology, it must be shown to work. This is what venture capitalists refer to as proof of concept. Market research follows this stage followed by development of detailed financial plans.

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Useful Resources

Useful Sources of Information

Note: While the number of useful links here may seem daunting, it is very worthwhile to use these excellent information sources to aid your decision on whether to proceed with starting your own business. Of course you can discuss particular issues with a careers advisor here, but undertaking background research first will help you clarify your objectives and chances of success.

Resources within DCU

The Invent Centre in DCU is a state-of-the-art facility, a unique resource which will enable indigeneous industry to grow and thrive. invent will give entrepreneurs a jumpstart to the future. These sites both contain relevant information and links to other relevant site. The Business School in DCU also has useful resources on entrepreneurship. The Alumni Service in DCU may be useful for networking and getting advice from other DCU graduate entrepreneurs. FIONTAR is a cross-disciplinary unit teaching enterprise through Irish at DCU.

Irish Statutory Bodies

Enterprise Ireland is Ireland's enterprise development agency and offers many services for start-up companies including assigning a Development Advisor to help potential entrepreneurs develop their concepts into commercially viable business plans. Forfas is the national Policy and Advisory Board for Enterprise, Trade, Science, Technology and Innovation while the IDA is responsible for attracting new investment in Ireland from overseas. 

Other Recommended Resources

Shell-Livewire is a UK-based comprehensive young-person's guide to starting your own business. Although some of the content will not be useful for Irish students/graduates, it is still contains a wealth of relevant information. Prospects have useful up-to-date information on the issues concerning starting your own business while a new website starting your own business in Ireland provides specific content for Irish entrepreneurs and the issues they will face in an irish context.

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