Want to know how to start your own business without having your own products or services to sell?

You can start a business without investing in bricks and mortar premises and warehouses full of expensive stock, and without begging your bank for a business loan that puts you in the red from day one.

You don’t need a new invention, or the skills to provide a specialist service to your customers. The dream of self-employment is achievable by anyone willing to do some research and apply the work and the hours required to succeed.

Happy self-employed

Start your own business – The UK is built on small businesses

Britain was once called a nation of shopkeepers, it would more accurate now to say we are a nation of small businesses.

According to the latest figures from Companies House, 5.5 million businesses in the UK are micro-businesses that employ 0-9 people. Micro-businesses make up 96% of the total number of UK businesses and they account for 22% of annual turnover.

It’s never been easier to start a small business, and there are some real benefits of being your own boss. Your earnings are uncapped and your hours are flexible. You make the decisions, your income and the success of your business will be depend upon your actions. You can take your business in the direction that you want to go, a lifestyle business that fits in with how you want to live, or full-on hard work creating a large income and a business that has a re-sale value.

There are also risks connected with working for yourself. No guaranteed salary, no sick pay, you pay your own expenses. By researching the type of business that you want to start and the opportunities available, and planning for potential setbacks, you can join the 5.5 million active micro-businesses and become your own boss.

How to start your own business – The options available

There are manufacturers, service providers, and product suppliers, across all business sectors, looking for self-employed independent sellers to sell their products and services to the UK markets.

Known as business principals, they offer opportunities to start businesses in all sales channels: face to face field sales, telesales, online selling, and affiliate marketing. Their target markets can be direct sales to the public, businesses that resell their products such as retailers, or they may provide a service or product that businesses use.

There are 2 options for starting your own business that don’t involve buying stock from business principals. You can become a sales agent and make sales on behalf of the business principal you are partnering with, or you can sell on behalf of your own business and work with businesses that will supply products or services directly to the customer.

Independent sales agent

Start a business as an independent sales agent

When you start a business as an independent sales agent you receive commission for sales that you close, or in some cases qualified leads that you pass to a business that convert to sales.

The sales agreement is between the customer and the company you are working with. The products or services you sell are supplied or provided by the business principal, which means you do not have to buy stock or make up-front payments when you start your own business.

Customer service and after sales care is usually looked after by the business principal, although you may be asked to play a part in this as you know the customer. Payment is made directly to the business you are working with and they pay you a commission on the sales you close. You can see a full explanation of how to start a business as a sales agent.

Starting a sales business without holding stock

Starting a sales business where you sell products that other companies deliver to your customers on behalf of your business is called dropshipping. You connect with customers and sell to them using your own marketing materials, website, blog, or advertising. If you sell via online shopping sites, such as eBay or Amazon, you do it in your own company name.

The customer pays your business for the sale and you purchase the products from the drop shipper at a lower price. The products are then delivered directly to the buyer. You don’t need to buy stock, you are not involved in the delivery process, you can sell a wide range of products from different suppliers, and there are no problems with cash flow.

Start your own business as a sub-contractor

You can start a business that sells services provided by other businesses, in the same way as drop-shipping products, this is called sub-contracting. You sell services to your customers and charge them. You then sub-contract the work to a service provider who charges you at a lower rate than you have charged the customer.

These types of agreement are done on a massive scale in some industries, and sales people can achieve large discounts from many service providers to increase their profits once they have a large number of customers. Business services can be especially lucrative and can include; telecommunications, waste disposal and recycling services, laundry and workwear provision, security services, vehicle leasing, cleaning, and any service that a business needs.

Startup co-founders

How to start your own business

You probably have some experience that you can use to start your own business that is related to a market sector or type of product or service. You may also have skills and experience of sales and some of the different sales channels. Having a potential customer list is also a big advantage for a start-up business.

Taking into account your knowledge, skills, and experience, the first step to starting your own business is to choose the type of products or services that you will sell, and how you will sell them.

Then look for opportunities offered by suppliers, manufacturers, and providers, that fit your sales business plan. Be prepared to approach businesses that supply what you want to sell even if they don’t advertise sales agent, drop shipping, or sub-contract opportunities. You could find a supplier that others don’t have access to and that will give your start-up business a unique sales proposition to offer your customers.