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6 steps to starting a successful business from scratch

As a co-founder of The Yarrow Cookery School and a self-employed entrepreneur of the past 10+ years, I have experienced varying degrees of success. Some things work and some just don’t. This article highlights the first 6 steps that any diligent business owner should consider before opening their doors.

1. Know the location – You may be surprised that this comes first however I believe it was one of the key pieces of advice that led to the success of our cookery school. East Lothian has three great markets; Edinburgh corporates, young families and a busy tourist/golfing season. We have created products tailored to these three markets and is why we enjoy year-round success.

2. Why? What? – Refine and be able to articulate in two sentences why you are doing, what you’re doing. This becomes the ethos behind your brand and the starting point of your business plan. Having this clearly imprinted in your mind will help you get those around you excited about what you are up to and spreading the word for you.

3. Create a business plan – This is where you really dissect how you are going to go about action pointing your vision. A good business plan will include; your vision, customer research, analysis of at least two competitors, SWOT analysis, market risks, a marketing plan, your cash flow and financial projections, as well as an understanding of government bodies and red tape that your business will need to comply with.

4. Get free advice – In the UK we are extremely fortunate to benefit from a huge amount of free advice and webinars. Use google and get in touch with your local council to find out what’s available in your area. For example, we have had huge help from Grow Biz and Business Gateway.

5. Don’t be a perfectionist – It is easy to get hung up on everything looking perfect whether that’s on social media or within the service itself. You don’t need to have the latest kit or equipment to make your business a success when you begin. You are the company’s biggest asset. It’s you that people will remember, and you that create the experience. Do the best with what you have, to avoid big upfront costs and grow as you earn.

6. Just get that first client – You may not have all your systems in place or have launched a website, that doesn’t matter. The most important thing is to trial the concept. Get the first person or group through the door at a discounted rate and ask them for critical feedback. This will not only refine your thinking but will also start the amazing free marketing network that is word of mouth!

I hope that these tips have helped and encouraged you as you begin the daunting task of setting up a business from scratch. Remember you are now your own boss, don’t forget to pencil in time for all the things you want to get out of life.

You can find out more about my business and contact me via


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