Page 2: Starting a business
What makes an idea grow into a business? Duncan's ventures into the ice cream business, bedsits, nursing homes, day nurseries, health clubs, hotels and spas highlight many of the key elements:
- Identify a gap in the market do research. What do people need, what is missing from the market? Proving there was demand for a paper round enabled Duncan to get a job. Many of Duncan's business enterprise ideas have come from reading local and national press and watching news programmes.
- Do something better than or different to competitors. Duncan improved ice cream sales by using a new scoop that speeded up serving and made a shape like a smile in the ice cream. This meant he could charge a little more for these special ices.
- Have a business plan. This is a key tool when starting a business. It shows what start-up and running costs will be, what resources are needed, the estimated value of sales and whether the business will give the right return on investment.
- Know where finance will come from and when. A business needs good cash flow to keep running.
- Ensure the people in the business have the necessary skills. For example, Duncan had the experience to start up Duncan's Super Ices from his time selling ice cream in Jersey.
- Be prepared to delegate work and responsibility but be clear about standards. Duncan's ethos is to provide quality products and services for customers.
- Commit to the business. When building costs for the first residential home almost bankrupted the company before the project was finished, Duncan, his partner, friends and family completed the work. This saved money as well as demonstrating commitment to the venture.
- Pay attention to detail and understand what affects the business. Duncan increased sales for his ice cream business by buying an exclusive position in a local park for £2,000. This gave him profits of £18,000 in one summer - a huge return on his investment.
- Be prepared to take risks. To set up the new care home business Duncan had to sell his ice cream business, as well as his house, his car and colour television.