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 guidance, 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 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 guidance to making the most of your skills, our guides include insight from people who’ve funded their new business with a Start Up Loan.

Call centre phone operative in his mid 30s chats on the phone at his desk . He is explaining something to the person on the phone in a friendly manner

What skills do you need
to start a business?

Identify where you’re lacking, learn ways to fill those gaps, and use your transferable skills to get your new business off the ground.

Learn the essential
start-up skills

Young Black male cheerful fashion designer sitting by table in his workshop and making new sketches in notepad

What does it cost to
start a business?

One big consideration when launching a start-up is working out how much money you need. Learn what you’ll have to spend to start a new UK business.

Find out what it really costs to
start your own business

A mixed-race mid-adult female yoga instructor hosting an online class on her smartphone from her backyard

7 ideas for small businesses to launch after lockdown

Looking to start a business after the pandemic? Get inspiration for types of business you could set up and run straight out of coronavirus lockdown.

Get ideas for businesses you could start when lockdown ends

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 guidance

Need more practical guidance? 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.

A handsome young Black businessman sitting alone in his home office and talking on his mobile

Kitchen table start-up – how to run a business from home

Creating a start-up business from the kitchen table can be a recipe for success. Read our expert tips on how to set up and operate a business from home.

Learn how to run a new business from home

Mature man running online store

9 tips for starting a business on a shoestring

Looking to start a business on a tight budget? Need help making your money go further? Read our expert guide to being a cost-effective start-up.

Get tips on how to start a business on a small budget

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

What type of start-up would suit you?

Perhaps you’re keen to launch your own business but not sure what to start? Read our guide to the type of start-up that best suits your personality.

Understand what type of new business you’re equipped to start