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Taking the plunge: A beginners guide to starting a business

Starting

So, you’re thinking about starting to work for yourself. This is probably an exciting, and at the same time, equally scary thought. After all, it’s a big step. The question is whether it’s the right one for you.

Before you bite the bullet and go it alone there are a number of things you should think about first. After all, forewarned is forearmed!

 

Don’t be afraid!

It’s easy to hear all those statistics about how easy it is to fail. Don’t listen to scaremongering. If you want to start your own business and have the drive to make it a success, then you’re off to a great start.

 

Learn from others

Before you make the leap to being self-employed, who better to talk to than other people who have already done it? Especially if they do the same thing as you.

They can tell you the pros and cons first hand, as well as how much to charge and how best to work. It’s better to talk to someone who isn’t a friend or relative. Try and find someone who you respect and just as importantly, trust.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you know it all. Chances are you don’t.

 

Be passionate about what you want to do

If you don’t love what you’re doing then you probably won’t love being self-employed. For example, you may be thinking of making the move as you’re not happy where you are currently working. But if it’s the actual work you don’t like and you’re going to be doing the same thing – but for yourself – you’ll only be taking the problem with you.

Also, you might end up working longer hours than before. At least at the start. So, you need to be passionate about what you do.

 

Don’t leave a job half done

By this we mean start what you finish. It’s too easy to flit from one idea to the next never making one thing a success. Stick with your first business idea and run with it. 

 

Connect with people

One of the things people miss about working full time is the social aspect of making friends and spending the day with them and, of course, going for works’ nights out! When you’re self-employed, you’re on your own. Even if your trade means you work with others, the chances are that you’ll move around from one job to the next so you might work with one group of people for a week or even a month, then move onto the next contract.

This is why isolation is one of the biggest hurdles self-employed people have to get over. Especially if you’ll be working from home and might not speak to anyone from one day to the next. 

 

Be organised and keep your own records

This is one of the parts people dread most. Unless you’re becoming a self-employed book-keeper, in which case it’s their favourite part of the job. For the rest of us, Tax returns are not fun. Which might explain why it’s so easy to put off doing the books.

When you’re self-employed it’s vital you stay on top of your finances. Not just so you keep the Tax man happy, but because you’ll need to know how much you’re making and who owes you money.

The good news is it needn’t be the hassle you might think. Doing a bit at a time is better than spending days going though paperwork. You can also use online accountant websites which give you handy apps and programmes to make life easier. If even this sounds like hell, then you might be better off getting someone to do the books for you. It will cost you more to do this, but it’s better than any mistakes being made, like invoices not being paid, which could cost you substantially more in the long run. Also, you’ll be happier and have more time on your hands!

 

Be flexible

No, you don’t need to start doing yoga classes. But you do need to be flexible about when you work – and enjoy the freedom it brings.

When you work for yourself, you’re in the great position that you choose when and where you work. Obviously, you can’t be too choosy or you’ll never earn anything.

Also, when you’re busy, this might mean working evenings or weekends. When this happens you have to remember that it’s all swings and roundabouts. For example, if you work Saturday and Sunday, then you can always have Monday and Tuesday off! You’ll be the boss after all, so it’s your choice.

 

Sell yourself

Not all of us are salespeople. In fact, most of us don’t like selling ourselves. But, it’s going to be part of your job. You’ll need people to know about you and what you’re offering them if you want to keep busy. Don’t worry if you’re not keen on this side of working for yourself. It’s one of those things that you get better at over time. Also, keep in mind that you’ll be telling people about something you enjoy doing and that will come across.

 

Concentrate on what’s important

It’s easy as a start-up to waste your time doing things that aren’t overly important, at the same time ignoring what needs to be done. So, don’t spend a day trying to design a snazzy business card or logo for yourself. Go find a business to do this instead and concentrate on what pays the most for your services.

Make sure you’re covered

Don’t be afraid to get legal advice. It’s not just for when you get into trouble, but also to stop you getting into it. It’s also reassuring to know you’re prepared if anything was to go wrong as trying to get help after the event can have more of an impact on your business.

Be prepared!

Hope for the best, but plan for the worst! Write a list of what you can do to bring in business if customer aren’t beating down your door as you’d hoped. Be organised and have a marketing plan in place, all the way down to the old tried and tested knocking on doors.

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