Starting a business is never an easy thing to do but given the poor economic climate it is an even bigger challenge today.
IBTimes UK spoke to a number of start-ups to find out how they launched their own companies and to hear what advice they would offer to other new businesses.
The start-up founders offering a view from the trenches include Jeff Rollason of AI Factory and Paul Gouge of Playdemic, both of which are successful games companies working across mobile, console and social platforms between them.
Meanwhile, Kieran Kunhya shares his experience of setting up Open Broadcast Systems, which offers an inexpensive TV broadcast service using open source software. Eben Upton, the founder of the Raspberry Pi Foundation and creator of the credit-card sized PC, also shares his organisation's story.
Expert recommendations also come from Simon Jenner, who runs Oxygen Accelerator - an intensive course that matches mentors with start-ups and builds every aspect of their business to be ready for market.
Start With the Right Intentions
Gouge says that trying to get rich quick is not a good reason to begin a new company.
"You really have to be honest with yourself about what you are trying to do. I meet a lot of people who say I'm going to start my own business because that's the only way you get rich. That for me is a complete non-starter.
"If you are going to set up your own business and you are only doing it to get rich then nine out of 10 times you are going to fail. You don't start a business to make money for yourself, you start a business because you see an opportunity in the market which you feel you can capitalise on better than anyone else."
Every End is a New Beginning
Rollason remembers how he was able to salvage something from the remnants of a failed company.
"I was at Oxford Softworks, which went under. And when it was in the process of going under I realised I could probably create a new company from the remains of that. That was our starting point.
"We were working on a contract for Globalstar and I had got to know the people and I thought we could pick up the contract as an independent and finish off the work. That was hugely valuable to us because it meant we hit the ground running and it also gave us some credibility.
"That is a big difference from just being a bunch of guys sitting in their bedsits trying to get work. If we had not had that start-up work we would have all had to be part-time doing something else, which means your capacity for throughput is very, very little.
"The capacity to track work for hire is also pretty low because we had no proven record at that point. We had an easy run in because we did have that start up contract, which allowed us to progress and to work essentially full time and survive reasonably well."
Choose the Right Team
Jenner recommends surrounding yourself with the right people when starting a new company:
"There are plenty of people with good ideas out there, that is not the issue. Finding a good quality team is the most important thing. If you are a lone person sat out there your first point of call is to join with other co-founders who buy into the concept, love the idea and can work with you.
"Of the applications we get there are two or three with the same idea every time. Someone in Argentina will think their idea is unique and we will see an application from Portugal and Australia with exactly the same idea. We will take the one that has the best team.
"There are plenty of websites out there to register on, saying I've got an idea, come work with me. Or better still go to a function like Launch 48, which is a 48-hour 'build a start-up' event. That is great for testing your skills but is also great for meeting other co-founders.
"We see divorces of co-founders through our accelerator program because it puts a spotlight on everything. Treat it like dating and find someone you can work with and get on with and go for a beer with. That is a good start."
Make Use of Your Partners' Facilities
Kunhya advises that making the more of what your partners have to offer in terms of facilities and equipment can be vital to the success of any start-up.
"To start off in the television industry you need a lot of equipment and resources. That was difficult. Luckily we were started in collaboration with two broadcasters and they helped us out quite a lot - one in the US and one in Norway.
"The industry would have been impenetrable otherwise and we would have had tens of thousands in start-up costs just to simulate the sorts of things those companies have in their environments. They gave us the opportunity to use their actual research labs and their facilities which meant we did not have to replicate that.
"The original plan was to replicate their facilities but it would have been far too complicated and expensive. This was not the sort of startup you can form in a house but because of the connections we had, it was possible."
Work Remotely to Cut Rental Costs
Rollason believes that even having no money should not prevent you from getting your business off the ground.
"This was a natural thing to do when we launched the company and it took away all of the start-up costs. We were owed by a company that went bankrupt, so we had no money. We had to be based at home.
"Those were less favourable times - this was 2003 - and the home games industry was non-existent. The idea was that we would be taking on contract work and get each person working from their own premises.
"When we started up one of the guys actually lived for a while in my house, which has a big bedroom at the front of the house we used as an office. That was enough to contain a number of machines and occasionally we had three people working there.
"That migrated through to one person per location and now there are three of us based around the UK. The industry has changed and our flexible arrangement and structure is now a benefit."
Look for your opportunity
Kunhya suggests keeping your eyes and ears open for any opportunity that may come along, which could be at any time.
"Use your contacts. If you have worked in a particular industry you will know that there are parts of that industry where processes are not as smooth as they can be.
"If you talk to people in the pub after a few beers they will rant and rave about what they don't like in their job. Then if you can provide a service to them that makes their life easier - not necessarily even cheaper, just easier - then they will tell their boss, we want this.
"Things can happen that way. Find a need and fulfil that need."
Trade Your Knowledge
Rollason believes that no matter how old you are or how long you've been around the industry, there is always an opportunity to learn something new.
"You have to have the mindset of an apprentice. Go to conferences and mix with people and get them drinking and you can start to absorb knowledge from other groups.
"You get more contacts, you do more networking, you find out new stuff. When you meet someone who is very credible find out what they are doing and that can guide you and influence how you think. If what they are doing is a good idea you should do it as well.
"There is a trading of knowledge because we could offer experience in other areas. We have business in the Far East and have been able to hand people contacts. In exchange, they tell us other things they are doing. This is particularly important in our industry because it is changing so quickly."
Watch Out for Tricky Technology
The man behind the Raspberry Pi micro computer, Eben Upton says that avoiding confusing technical issues can be key to a successful and smooth beginning.
"People say why did it take you nine months, the best part of a year, to build the Raspberry Pi? A lot of that time was spent trying to find connectors.
"What was interesting is that connectors can be very expensive. With connectors you have the options of cheap, reliable and available - you pick two of those, sometimes one. Picking three was certainly very difficult.
"I remember trying to find an SD card connector that cost 10 cents [that] worked, had more than two reinsertion cycles worth of reliability and [that[ we could get on less than a year of lead time. That was surprising."
Finally, Rollason recommends that you shouldn't be afraid of thinking big. and it sometimes pays off in style to be brave.
"I already had quite a good background, with publications in the very best possible journals, even if at the same time I felt like a junior in those journals. So managing reputation helped us get started and being able to think on our feet with some courage also helped.
"I was as potentially scared as a lot of people in the industry who go along to ECTS [European Computer Trade Show] to tour the stands. The natural thing is to gravitate to these small stands if you are a nobody and try and get them interested in your stuff.
"In the middle of ECTS there was a very lavish Microsoft stand and almost nobody was going there. Probably everybody at ECTS thought they were not important enough to talk to Microsoft, so they didn't. But I did.
"Microsoft was very friendly and we got a relationship going quite quickly and they started licensing our stuff. Sometimes you have got to think big even if you are quite small."
Let Your Customers do Your marketing
"Ours it is a very conservative industry so word of mouth is very important to show credibility. These companies are replacing six-figure contracts with my system. If this stuff breaks people get fired, it's mission critical.
"As a one-man band you could just disappear so you need people to back you up and say this guy knows what he is doing," Kunhya offers.