No business like show business – why events and exhibitions are good for start-ups.

As every budding entrepreneur will know, setting up a company can be a lonely business, and one that constantly throws up challenges, mainly related to things you never thought you needed to know about. Catalyst tenants get the security of a team of people who can support and advise them throughout the process, but we still recommend that they get out and about to see what additional insights they can pick up by visiting business shows, events and exhibitions.

All the shows have a programme of seminars which are designed to educate and inspire fledgeling businesses. Usually chaired by hugely experienced business experts, and often incorporating an interactive element, these sessions are a great way to learn from the masters, and to get your questions answered. (Tip of the day – listen to the questions asked by other people – they could be important ones that you didn’t even know you needed to ask.)

Shows are also a great opportunity to network, whether you join in with formal sessions, pre-arrange meetings with potential investors or suppliers, or simply wander round the exhibitors stands, chatting to anyone you encounter. Don’t forget the wise words in a previous blog entry; networking is a chance to share stories, not to give your victims the hard sell!

A quick Google search will bring up a dizzying array of shows which are geared towards start-ups, but we’ve done some of the homework for you – below is a list of some of the shows that we think are great.

Business Start Up Show http://www.bstartup.com

Start Up Britain Bus Tour http://www.startupbritain.co/tour

Startup Saturdays  http://www.enterprisenation.com/event/startupsaturdaytour/

Hackathon http://www.hackathonlondon.com/#

SETsquared Bath Techtrends http://www.setsquared.co.uk/event/tech-trends-2-mobile-comms

Digital Shoreditch http://digitalshoreditch.com

Many a start-up has picked up a significant piece of business whilst networking at a show, and most will find that they come away with some great insights, and a large dose of inspiration. Look on attendance as a vital business development activity, and get signed up for a couple of shows that interest you.

And our top tips for show survival? Fill one pocket with business cards (and leave the other empty for the ones that will be thrust upon you), plan your itinerary in advance but be prepared to deviate, and wear VERY comfortable shoes.