Find your recipe for business success with BIPC Norfolk

Exterior glass windows of modern city library with shelves and computer hubs inside

BIPC Norfolk is based on the second floor of the Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library in Norwich. - Credit: Norfolk County Council

Starting a business is exciting, but the process can also be difficult and lonely. The Business & IP Centre (BIPC) Norfolk, run by Norfolk County Council’s Library & Information Service, has tons of resources to help get your business off the ground, as well as a whole team of friendly staff to help you along the way.

Its databases, publications and industry guides provide you with essential information, from competitor analysis to intellectual property basics, and these resources are free so you can use your hard-earned money on other aspects of your business. The team also offers free and low-cost advice through workshops, networking and one-to-one sessions - all currently being held online due to the pandemic.

Here the team share five tips to help you get started with your own business:

Decide what type of business to start
It sounds obvious but, when deciding on your business idea, it really helps to be familiar with the market that you’re interested in. Be clear about what you can add and how you can serve customers differently. You may have several ideas that you want to pursue - you can use BIPC Norfolk's resources to assess which ones have the greatest chance of success.  

Find out if you can protect your idea
One of the first things you should investigate is how you can protect and future-proof your business idea. If you’re planning to make money from photography, writing, fashion or other creative works you need to look at asserting your copyright and possibly registering your designs. If you’re unsure which element of intellectual property (IP) applies to you, attend one of the team's online IP clinics.

Make sure your idea has legs
A fundamental aspect of setting up any new business is ensuring there is a gap in the market and that your product or service resonates well with your potential customers. BIPC Norfolk is a great place to start to do your research, where you have free access to a comprehensive collection of UK and global market research and business databases.

Develop a business plan
A business plan is an absolute necessity for any business aiming for long-term success and growth. It’s also good discipline as the key headings in a business plan really make you think hard about all the areas you need to cover for your business to be sustainable. Get help with writing your business plan by attending BIPC Norfolk's business planning workshop.

Don’t run before you can walk
As a new business it’s important not to put all your eggs in one basket and spend all your resource on something without proof of its market potential. Find out whether your product or service will attract real customers before you invest too much time and money in it. BIPC Norfolk can direct you to resources that will help you refine and develop your product or service.

Young woman in head scarf serving food in a street food outlet

Evie-May Ellis, founder of vegan street food catering company Heart Street set up her business with the help of BIPC Norfolk. - Credit: Norfolk County Council

Advice from BIPC Norfolk has been invaluable for Evie-May Ellis, founder of Heart Street, a vegan street food catering company, based in Wells-next-the-Sea. She launched her business in 2019 with the help of BIPC Norfolk and now she says that starting your own business could be the best thing you will ever do.

“I always knew I wanted to run my own business," she says. "From the garden tours of Mum’s flowerbeds to my Open University Business Degree, I loved to organise and execute plans and to learn about the processes of ‘business’.

“Working my way through several jobs, I fell in love with hospitality and worked my way to management. During this time, I became vegan and started triathlon training. This combination fuelled my love for food as I saw how it could make me stronger and fitter.

“The natural development was to quit my very well-paid job, take all my savings and get into debt to launch a very niche street food business in rural Norfolk.

Exterior of a vegan food truck with menu and logo which says 'great food does good'

Evie-May Ellis set up Heart Street in 2019 with the help of BIPC Norfolk, which provided her with business support. - Credit: Norfolk County Council

“Although I run Heart Street by myself, I would never have been able to get this far without the amazing support of my friends and family and the resources available to me through organisations including NWES and BIPC Norfolk.

“I was provided with information on BIPC Norfolk and the amazing services they offer. I specifically participated in any social media focused training. The most beneficial interaction came from a one-on-one with an accountant during my first year of trading. Without that meeting, which was completely free through BIPC, I would never have financially survived my first year, let alone ended with some sort of profit!

“In 2019 I was lucky enough to speak at the BIPC King’s Lynn hub about my experience as a budding entrepreneur - a truly lovely experience and just one of the many amazing opportunities I have had. I cannot express enough the importance of organisations like this for hopeful entrepreneurs, especially in such rural areas.

“Starting your own business is not something to be taken lightly. Freak global pandemics aside, there are so many hard times involved, far more than I ever imagined, but it’s one of the best things you will ever decide to do.”

Close up of vegan guacamole on place outside a food truck

Evie-May Ellis set up vegan food business, Heart Street, in 2019. - Credit: Norfolk County Council

Find out how BIPC Norfolk can help you start or grow a business at www.norfolk.gov.uk/bipcnorfolk or email the team at bipcnorfolk@norfolk.gov.uk 

Next week: We look at the importance of protecting your business ideas and how BIPC Norfolk can help you to do it.

Free webinar: What BIPC Norfolk can do for you
Join BIPC Norfolk on Wednesday, January 20 (5.45-6.45pm) to discover what the team can offer to help your business start, grow and thrive.

The session takes place online with BIPC Coordinator Julie Cleminson, who will explain the services, events and resources available to you through BIPC Norfolk. There will also be time for questions throughout the event.

Visit www.bipcnorfolk.eventbrite.com to find out more and book your place.


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