Note pad, glasses, phone

Thinking of starting a business?

This month I’d like to write something for those of you who may be thinking of starting your own business. I’ll draw from my own experiences and also those I’ve helped and supported who’ve been in the first stages of setting this up.

It may be that you’ve been thinking about this for some time, or that due to redundancy, coupled with the difficult job market, you feel that now is the right time to give this a go. If you have established yourself in a profession, you may be able to work as a freelancer, giving you more flexibility. You may decide that this is easier to do either via becoming a sole trader or a limited company. Maybe you have a hobby, that you believe you can monetise. For example, have you gotten into crafting something during lockdown and now feel you are competent enough to sell what you make?

Step 1: Starting your business, whatever you decide to do – it’s good to assess your values, interests, personality-type and skills.

I like to call this VIPS:

Values: You can do the values exercise on my site.

Interests: Write a list of these, it’s worth reflecting on them.

Personality-type: This will reflect how you work as a business owner. Do you prefer to work alone or with someone else etc. Check out this quiz (I Could… ), which uses the same dimensions as measured by the best known psychometric- tool – MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator).

Skills: Spend some time writing down everything you’re good at.

Step 2: Explore your ideas. Work out how you will start to earn money and when this would likely be.

The Princes Trust have a freely available business plan, that’s very thorough. It includes doing market research and assessing your competitors in your chosen industry. If you prefer a simpler one, I have one in my free resources section.

Step 3: Deciding whether to go ahead with the idea.

After you have written a business plan, or while you are writing it, you want to test the market. Most people will set up a website or a Facebook page, so potential clients can see that they are a serious entity.

Can you set yourself aside a period of time so that you can test your idea? Maybe you’ll need 6 months where you are building up contacts, thinking about how to market the service(s) or product(s).

Step 4: Getting your business up and running.

It might be something that you do part-time, at least to begin with. The skills needed may be diverse – from setting up your own website, working out how to do your accounts, learning about marketing skills and social media skills.

It can be very rewarding, starting your own business. You do feel that you have more freedom, being your own boss. However, it’s well-known that it’s not easy and many business owners work longer hours compared to a regular job. So, having a controllable lifestyle becomes very important. Also, the work is not as secure and some months may be very busy, followed by some very quiet months. This is something that has taken me a while to get used to. It also can get stressful if lots of work comes at once. As a new business owner, you don’t want to say ‘no’, as that may lead to your contacts not giving you work in the future. However, that’s usually when you may find it helpful to collaborate with others in your field.

Useful blog on freelancing

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