New businesses, the venues industry and 2011

The last few years have been tough for many businesses operating within the event industry, but the UK's economy is now picking up and a number of firms are beginning to feel more positive.

With the country on the road to recovery, it is not surprising that more people will be considering setting up their own business within the venues sector, particularly as the government is making funding available to some new entrepreneurs.

Earlier this month, it was announced that the coalition is to expand the scope of its New Enterprise Allowance (NEA), which aims to help unemployed people to establish their own company.

It is hoped that 40,000 new businesses will be created thanks to the scheme, which provides financial support to individuals in their early months of self-employment.

Access to a start-up loan and an expert business mentor will also be available to those who qualify for the scheme.

Commenting on the expansion of the allowance, which will be rolled out across the country in autumn of this year, prime minister David Cameron said: "Backing new enterprises to start up and small businesses to grow will be what transforms our economy and will deliver the many thousands of new jobs we will see created this year."

Business and enterprise minister Mark Prisk added that the new mentoring aspect of the scheme will play a key part in helping ensure that businesses are successful.

"The best people to advise small businesses are those who have already started and run successful companies, so it is particularly important that this new framework for helping businesses to improve focuses on providing access to business mentors," he said.

Challenges facing new businesses within the venues industry
However, despite the improving economic outlook and access to government grants, those who are hoping to set up a new business within the venues industry this year will still face a number of challenges.

One of the biggest challenges of 2011 for businesses is the VAT increase. On January 4th VAT was increased to 20 per cent and research has shown that many firms are concerned about this.

A study by the Federation of Small Businesses found that 71 per cent of the 1,600 small firms questioned said they expected the rise to be unbeneficial to their business, with over half admitting that they expect to increase prices. Not only will new venues and other event businesses be faced with the added burden of dealing with the rise, they are likely to face increased costs.

Graham Stephenson, Association of Event Venues chairman, advised: "Venues who work with non-VAT registered companies need to proceed with caution so as not [to] be left out of pocket by having to pick up the VAT."

Another issue is that despite the improving economy, trading conditions continue to be tough, particularly for new firms without established contacts and contracts.

Getting finance from banks can also be difficult, as many financial institutions are concerned about lending, particularly to unproven businesses. This is why it is important to look into government funding and the other grants which are available to new businesses within the venues industry.

Key to success
For new businesses that have secured access to finance, the next step is ensuring that your company is a success.

Putting in place a strong business plan is core to any successful company. If you have previous experience in the events industry, make sure you draw on this when establishing your plan.

Networking will also play a key part in any business's success. Ensure your contacts within the venues industry are aware that you are setting up a new firm.

Whether you are establishing a venue or a company which provides services for venues, such as stand design, it is important to market your company effectively. Use social media, attend exhibitions and conferences, build an easily-navigated website and create a buzz around your offering.

At the heart of it, to be successful within the venues industry, knowing your audience and being competitive are key and will help ensure your business establishes its place within the recovering sector.

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