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Frequently asked questions

Questions – and some answers!
Deciding to start up your own business is a major step in your life. That’s why you need support from the Outset. The last thing we want you to do is dive in, unprepared and ill-informed, and get in trouble. Outset makes sure you swim, not sink. So, take a look at some of these questions all from people very much like you, and our answers…

Is this really free? How can I be sure you won’t send me a bill?


The Outset Foundation is a fully-regulated charity, registered number 115748 with the Charity Commission, and was set up specifically to help people get employment and avoid worklessness. It fundraises from big companies, from entrepreneurs and from other charities, and uses the money to support Outset start-up operations across the UK. Thanks to these generous donations and for a limited time only, The Outset Foundation is giving all residents of Birmingham 12-months free access to Outset Online, meaning you get access to loads of great business support without paying a penny.

If you ever do want to give back, then like many other past Outset clients, you can choose to make a donation to The Outset Foundation. Visit The Outset Foundation website to donate.

Everything’s on the internet anyway, so I don’t need to use your stuff.


There is a lot of free content available on the internet, but so much of it is unreliable or lacking in detail. The Outset programme has been tried and tested with thousands of people across the UK, many of whom have gone to create successful, sustainable businesses. We’ve been audited and validated by various independent and expert bodies, and have been praised and awarded for our best-practice principles. We also ensure that we offer the right information for supporting UK businesses, because things like VAT, HMRC policies and business laws are unique to the UK and may not be correctly detailed on other websites, particularly if they are US sites.

Not to mention, successfully starting a business involves more than just reading information about how to get started, and our Outset Online programme let’s you put this learning into a practice while simultaneously helping you build the key documents and plans that you’ll need as you go along.

How can I be sure this effort will create a great profitable business for me?


You can’t. And we can’t. The success of your new business is up to you, even though we’ll do everything we can to support you, whether it’s helping you access start-up finance to help you fund your ideas, or offering you tips and advice for approaching key business challenges. You won’t know until you start putting your ideas – and your learning – into practice, and even then, you will probably need to test different approaches and experiment with your plans to figure out the right ingredients for success.

At the end of the day, running your own business requires a lot of hard-work and determination and it’s not the right choice for everyone. If you complete our Outset Online programme and decide that self-employment is not for you, then that’s ok too. Not only will you have picked up a whole range of new skills, but you’ll also know a lot more about yourself, which will no doubt be helpful in figuring out your next move.

If I get a Start Up Loan, I’m all set. Why should I work with Outset and go through Outset Online?


Quite simply, you will find it difficult to get approval for a Start Up Loan unless you can demonstrate you’re both able and prepared to start and run a solid, sensible and sustainable business. That means you need to have looked at every aspect of your business and planned accordingly. You might be able to secure funding from a high interest lender, but that’s a massive repayment risk for you, and even if you have business experience and have worked hard on preparing your business plan, there’s no better ‘reality check’ than putting your work up against the Outset checklists and guides. Besides, Outset Online can help you prepare for your Start Up Loan application by helping you think through all the key parts of your business and build a ready-made business plan as you go.