By Yiuwin Tsang of small business competition, The Pitch

It might be something you’ve been dwelling on for a while, or maybe it manifested as a sudden spark of sheer inspiration; either way, even your best business idea can be hard to get off the ground. Unless you’re well versed in the business world (which most entrepreneurs initially are not), just understanding where to start is hard enough.

Having travelled the country talking to new start-ups and entrepreneurs, not to mention running the country’s biggest small business competition, here are the top tips we can give someone who’s considering embarking on a new business venture:

1. Be passionate

Part of the pleasure of having your own business is that you can control it; so do something you love to do. Getting out of bed in the morning will be far easier when you can’t wait to arrive at the office, plus it will be easier to make the right call when you can feel your gut instinct and stay true to your passion.

2. Is this really a business?

You are not running a charity or starting a new hobby, so don’t fall into the trap of treating it as such. Yes, you should (hopefully!) enjoy the journey, but never forget that you need to be able to make a profit. If you start pricing your products or service too low or allow your costs to get out of control, you will find it very difficult to keep trading for long.

3. It’s OK to be a Me-Too

We all hear about the amazing new innovations brought to the market every day – and they are wonderful – but there’s nothing wrong with being a me-too company; providing you have a good level of demand and a USP which makes sure you can stand apart from your competitors. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to have a successful business.

4. Take your time

Don’t expect to find yourself rolling in money right away; setting up a company is a long and financially-consuming process and you will need to be patient while everything falls into place. Make sure you can afford the time and money before getting stuck in.

5. Research, research, research

It’s a sad but very true fact that many start-ups will fail. One of the most common reasons for this is due to a simple lack of planning. Make sure you know everything, absolutely everything, about the industry you’re entering and how you’re planning to break into it. Too many people have great ideas but, without a proper business plan in place, they never quite make it.

6. Get the right people on board

From staff to investors, make sure you recruit the people you need to make the business a success. They should have the same vision as you do and work in the same way, but if they come up with bright, challenging ideas – all the better. Spending time getting the right team together will pay dividends later down the line, when you have a really tight team that you can depend on.

Turning your passion into a business often means equipping yourself with a new skill set. At The Pitch we're trying to help early stage startups and entrepreneurs gain the skills they need, with participants taking part in seminars and events on everything from raising finance to online marketing, and obviously you get to pitch your idea too!