We all know applications are not anyone’s favourite task, but they’re a fact of life for securing a job and when starting a business, you might find yourself applying for support schemes, funding and more.
The first stage of the selection process for BSEEN is, of course, an application form – and we’ve tried to make it as pain-free as possible. The form will ask you to describe your business idea, how you plan on getting started, what money you might need and who your customers will be. All the elements of a business plan, really – but simplified and in a bite-size format.
BSEEN is a pre-launch business programme, so we don’t expect you to have all the answers! As part of what BSEEN is about is helping you develop the idea into something realistic and actionable. However, we do want to see that you’ve started to think about these things and plan for taking your business idea forward.
We’ve received hundreds of applications over the years, and there are some common pitfalls – if you’re thinking of making an application to join our programme, read on for 6 tips on making a great application.
- Double check if you’re eligible
This sounds basic, but it’s pretty essential! Due to the nature of our funding, we have certain criteria around what kinds of businesses and individuals we can accept. Check these here. If you’re not sure – just ask!
- Start with a concise explanation of what your business is
It’s one of the very first questions, and the first thing we want to know – what do you want to do? Imagine the first line is a Twitter bio – a concise one line description of what your business does. We want to see and understand this instantly – you have the rest of the applications to explain all the details and complexities, but at its heart there needs to be a simple idea. Try this useful formulation – We help (your target customer) do (the problem you’re solving for them) by (the solution you’re proposing).
- Be realistic about your start-up costs (and how you’ll cover them)
Everyone has them – we’d like to see if you’ve thought thoroughly about the costs involved, and if this is realistic for you. Can you get a rough estimate from a supplier, or through internet research? Have you considered marketing costs? Finally – how will you cover these?
It’s really unlikely you will have external finance available to you from the beginning (unless through family and friends), so think smaller on how you can get started on the resources you do have available to you.
- Go into detail on your target customer
Your target customer shouldn’t be ‘everyone’ – certainly not at the beginning! Try and identify in more detail a specific customer segment that you will target to start with – a specific age range, gender, occupation – the more detail the better, as the more focused you can be.
- Don’t tell us you don’t have any competitors
Everyone does – even if they’re indirect. If you don’t think you do, you probably just haven’t found them yet. Think about what products/services are similar, even if they’re not exactly the same – what would your customers spend their money/time on if you didn’t exist?
- Do let yourself shine through your application
It’s a cliché but people buy into people, not just their idea. We love to hear how BSEEN entrepreneurs have come up with their ideas, and the personal connection they have with it. Show us your motivation and passion, and why you’re the person to execute this idea.
Applications for our June 2020 cohort are now open! (until 20th May). Apply here now.