How to storm your way through start-up ideas In our occasional series offering useful hints and tips to small business and entrepreneurs, James Simmons, Marketing Manager at Mail Boxes Etc. UK, shares his advice on coming up with creative ideasAre you looking for a business idea? A lot of people want to work for themselves, and more of us are doing it each year. According to the Federation of Small Businesses, at the start of 2016 there were a record 5.5 million private sector businesses – an increase of 97,000 since 2015. SMEs have a lot of financial clout too: the combined annual turnover of small and medium-sized businesses accounted for 47% of all private sector turnover in the UK.If you’re aiming to be one of 2017’s start-up successes, you’ll already have your thinking cap on – but how do you channel your creative spark, whether it’s to help identify the big idea or hone your new product to perfection?If you’re struggling to shape your business concept, ask yourself the following questions:Is your business going to be based around you – your personality, your experience, your skills and/or knowledge?Or are you looking for a great idea that’s going to appeal to enough people to generate an income for you and your employees?Are you creating something that people don’t even know they want yet?Or have you identified a need or a ‘gap in the market’ that you believe you can fill with your product or service?Do you want to employ people, outsource, curate (for example, set up an online marketplace that offers products or services from a range of suppliers), or be a sole trader or freelancer?The answers to all these questions should help focus your thinking.Once you’ve got your idea, you’ll find lots of websites online with helpful ideas. Entrepreneur.com is a great resource for budding businesspeople, with inspiring case studies, ‘how to’ articles, plenty of ‘top tips’ and a strong focus on identifying the business idea that’s going to work for you.Or perhaps you’ve already got your business idea and you want to get creative about promoting the business itself, or a new product or service. Companies like NowGoCreate specialise in bringing out creative skills in everyone – from individuals to boards of directors. They believe creativity can be learned and the process applied wherever it’s needed. Read more about how to inject some creativity into your business and why it’s vital at Business News Daily, which specialises in small business solutions and inspiration.Once you’re ready to launch your business, product or service to the market, don’t forget that here at Mail Boxes Etc. we have a host of indispensable business back-up services. From company formation to a business mailbox or virtual address, and from printing your corporate stationery to supporting your mail order business with product fulfilment, we’re here to help. Our stores are conveniently located on the high street, and we really do go the extra mile for our small business customers.