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Thinking about going self-employed? Here's a guide to going solo...

With a record 526,446 new businesses created in the UK during 2013, this year might be the perfect time to take the plunge and start your own.

This increase reflects the increasing consumer confidence and growth in the wider economy. Additionally, the government has pledged to reduce the red tape associated with starting a business and has increased financial support with incentives such as the Business Growth Fund (BGF) and tax breaks for those investing in start-ups.

If you are thinking of joining the raft of new entrepreneurs in 2014, we've created a guide to the main types of business available to the budding entrepreneur.

Technology start-up: As access to technology reduces the barriers to entry to many markets, we are increasingly hearing of the tech start-ups that start from nothing and sell for millions. And you don’t need much funding to get started. Just Eat, which was valued at £1.47bn during its initial public offering earlier this month, started in a basement in Denmark with little funding. “We weren’t pioneers in the takeaway business so we didn’t really enjoy a first-mover advantage” says Klaus Nyengaard founder and CEO of Just Eat. “But what really differentiates us from any competitor is how we read and forecast potential markets, I think no one does it better than us.”

Buying a business: This may have crossed your mind at some point as you consider a simpler way to get started. The real temptation to buy a business from someone else is that you might buy a bargain, perhaps because the owner is desperate to sell, or because the business has been run badly and you can see how it can be easily transformed. On the other hand buying a successful business, where the owner simply has other priorities, massively increases your chances of success. “Buying a business can be a much more straightforward way to become self-employed” says Sean Mallon, owner of business transfer agent Intelligent Business Transfer. “If you buy a business that’s already performing well, securing funding can be more straightforward than starting a new business.”

Franchising: If starting a business from scratch or buying a business isn’t for you, then owning a franchise could be for you. A franchisee pays an initial lump sum at the start and ongoing royalties to the franchisor for use of the right to trade under the brand and access to the franchisor’s market intelligence, systems and products/services.

Part-time businesses: Starting a business part-time, while maintaining other commitments, can be a great way to test the waters and ensure your idea is viable. There is a raft of easy to start, part time businesses available from catering to eBay and Amazon selling. Oak Furniture Land started out when the owner Jason Bannister started selling hardwood furniture on eBay with an initial investment of £10,000. The company now owns 50 stores around the UK, boasting an £85 million turnover.

Image credit: Thinkstock

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