New Year, New Start

New Year is traditionally a time to take stock and finally do something about long-held ideas and aspirations. If starting a business is one of these, help is at hand on Invest Northern Ireland’s website. covers every aspect of setting up and running a business, and brings together information from government departments, agencies and key business support organisations. It is written in plain English and is continuously updated to ensure businesses are getting the most accurate and relevant information.

The site has developed a new area dedicated to those starting a business and helping them access the relevant local support. It will signpost visitors to key information about finding finance, business planning, researching an idea and even helps people assess whether or not they have the personal qualities needed to run a business.

Sharon Polson, of Invest NI’s Regional Business Team, says: “Many people have good business ideas but lack the confidence or know-how to take them forward and turn them into viable businesses. In particular people may be put off by the current uncertain economic environment. But new businesses can thrive even when economic conditions are tough.

“The key is to know your market, plan well and get support. The website is the perfect place to start as it has comprehensive, practical information about how to go about starting a business and where you can get help.”

For those who are nervous about the risk involved in starting a business the answer may be to start small by setting up a business at home. There is a specific guide on the site that gives specialist advice on tax considerations when starting a home-based business, using IT to build a professional office at home, and managing and growing a business.

Sharon Polson says: “Working from home is a popular option for many people, particularly those who need flexibility and who want to keep their overheads low. It will not suit every business idea but there are many business activities, from consultancy to website designers to telesales, which can work very well in a home environment.”

The website also has tools, including the business start-up organiser, to help people create and manage a personal list of starting-up tasks. It also features case studies showing how others have successfully started a business.