Prepare your new business

Discover ideas, inspiration and free online learning designed to take your business idea from dream to reality
If you’re looking to start your own business, our practical guides, expert tips and online learning courses take you through the early stages of bringing your business idea to life.

Preparing to launch is when you brainstorm ideas, research the market and pull together a business plan. Help get your business off the starting blocks with:

  • Business ideas and inspiration – expert advice, tips and learning with the Open University on coming up with winning business ideas
  • Market research – how to learn about your customers, investigate competitors and test your business idea
  • Taking the leap – discover the transferable skills you need to run a business, whether it’s from your kitchen table, office or shop

Explore our advice guides, inspirational interviews with successful start-ups and business experts, and our hand-picked free online training courses from The Open University.




Featured content

Dedicated guides, interviews and tips to help you prepare to launch your business. From funding advice to making the most of your skills, our guides include insight from people who’ve funded their new business with a Start Up Loan.

A smiling young coffee shop owner inside his premises

6 traits of successful
start-up business owners

Starting a business demands certain characteristics. Find out from some current entrepreneurs what it takes to be successful.

Learn which traits make start-up owners successful

Young Black female photographer standing in front of a reflective umbrella

21 winning business ideas for 2021

If you’re considering starting a new business but aren’t sure what to sell, here’s our list of business ideas that you could launch with success during 2021.

Get 21 winning business ideas for 2021

Young woman wearing a headset and working on a laptop in her home

From employee to business owner – taking the leap

Looking to switch from regular employee to owning a business? Discover how new business owners went from 9 to 5 to seeing their start-up thrive.

Find out how to switch from employee to business owner

Related learning

Start Up Loans has partnered with the Open University to provide free, in-depth courses that cover a wide range of business essentials. Learn what it takes to get your business going, expand your commercial awareness and discover start-up skills such as project management, finance and bookkeeping.

Smiling food truck worker cooking inside of a van.

Entrepreneurship – from ideas to reality

Wondering how to make your idea a real, working venture? Discover more about setting up and running your own business.

Take the course

Business owner calculating tax return working on budget and expenses

Introduction to bookkeeping and accounting

Learn the essential numerical skills you’ll need, and how to produce a balance sheet and profit and loss account.

Take the course

A woman works in her small modern coffee shop, preparing sandwiches to accompany the espresso drinks she serves


Learn about the personal aspects involved in transforming an innovative idea into an entrepreneurial product.

Take the course

Related advice

Need more practical advice? Our business support guides show you how to make your venture a reality – from creating a business plan and incorporating your business to finding premises and hiring staff.

Delivery person preparing bar codes for packages, checking to do list

What skills do you need to start a business?

Find out how to identify where your skills are lacking, learn ways to fill those gaps, and use your transferable skills to get your new business off the ground.

Discover what business skills you’ll need to start up

Mature man running online store

What does it cost to start a business in the UK?

When launching a start-up, one major consideration is establishing how much money you need. Learn what it really costs to start a new business in the UK.

Find out how much money you’ll need to get started

Two women discussing a new marketing strategy, one taking notes on a notepad

How to test your business idea before blowing a fortune

You have an idea for the Next Big Thing, but is it realistic? Before you spend a fortune on launching, test your idea to make sure it’ll work and to spot potential issues.

Learn how to test your new business idea