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The day to day reality of business start-up

5 May

Starting self-employment as a sole trader, whether it’s as a window cleaner or dog groomer is a long process but completely worth it! It can be hard to know what to expect in the early days so we have spoken to Ritchie, a self-employed car valeter to give us some tips.  


Raising funds:
Your new venture may require specific equipment or start-up essentials and you need to find a way to raise the funds. You might start off by selling unwanted personal goods (I’d recommend your games console as you’ll have less time to play it if you’re committed!) or by asking family and friends for support. There are always start-up loans and banks but I was pleasantly surprised by the help I received from those around me.

Gaining new custosprayingmers: No matter what kind of day you’re having or what mood you’re in you must remain polite and presentable with customers. Those first impressions are critical to spreading news of your business and building your customer base.  Never let a customer down by arriving late and remember there are always competitor’s ready to fill your place if you don’t give good service!

Constant commitment: When I’ve finished valeting a car I can’t just make my way down to the pub. I’ve got to think about completing my paper work, meeting new customers, replacing stock and cleaning my equipment. Then there are other duties that might not have been thought of such as visiting the bank, training, buying new equipment and keeping up with industry trends. Just stay on top of your tasks and you will see great reward.

Getting support: It’s ok to not know some aspects of business start-up and there is plenty of support available out there. There are sites such as the HMRC site or organisations like Opportunity Plus (www.opsw.co.uk) that can offer advice or guidance.

It may seem like a lot of work but I LOVE working for myself. I get to meet people from all walks of life, earn my own money and see my business grow. I’m constantly learning new skills and surprising myself without dreading Monday morning!

You get what you put in, persevere through the start-up phase and you will succeed!

Check out Ritchie’s website at http://www.carcareplus.co.uk/

Opportunity Plus have escaped!

17 Dec

The Opportunity Plus team have been on our Christmas celebration. Although we stuck with a more traditional festive meal in the evening we kicked it off in Opportunity Plus style with a visit to Red House Mysteries to ‘Escape the Room’.

Red House Mysteries is based in Exeter and their new mystery room had only been open for a month, with several teams attempting to escape. The project itself was successfully funded by crowdfunding, with the campaign exceeding its target. Without a clue of what to expect we walked down to a secluded door on King Street Exeter to begin our journey. After going through the usual health and safety protocols (including removing our shoes) we were plunged into darkness, locked in and ready to commence the fun.

The aim of the game was simple, we had to solve the mystery of a detective who had been falsely framed for a murder and we needed to prove his innocence. I will not indulge too much in the story as not to ruin the plot for future investigators but it was extremely well thought out.  The room contained several clues, puzzles and keys which seemed to be of no use until you least expect it. We were forced to work as a team to beat the hour clock ticking away – using our individual skills and organisation to crack the evidence, all whilst being watched on CCTV by our host.

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Susan, Michelle, Ritchie, Jenny, Jude, Catt and Ann – a success!

Despite moments of panic and incorrect ideas we succeeded and managed to escape the room in 49 minutes! The experience was fantastic and all involved thoroughly enjoyed it. A massive thank you to everyone at Red House Mysteries, Ben was a great host. We spent the rest of the evening pretending we were detectives and looking at everything twice incase it was a clue. I think it’s safe to say we will be visiting your new room as soon as it opens!

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Thanks Ben!

Voyage Fairtrade

7 Feb

Sam Birtwistle was one of the winners of last year’s Big Ideas competition. His business, Voyage Fairtrade, started off selling fairtrade and ethical jewellery handmade by artisans from all over the world.  Now, he has expanded his range to other ornaments and practical items for use around the home.  Here Sam tells us more about his business and how he got started.

Voyage Fairtrade

What is Voyage Fairtrade?

Voyage Fairtrade sells a wide range of Fairtrade and ethically handmade goods from ornaments to practical home items.  The huge selection of goods come from all four corners of the globe, not just from the stereotypical Fairtrade countries you may think of, helping as many local economies and artisans as possible.  This means that if you buy from Voyage you are not just buying a beautiful, practical item for you, a loved one or your home, you are helping alleviate poverty and helping countries develop: it is a win-win situation.   

What are your plans for the future of Voyage Fairtrade?

I am expanding our range of products so they will be 100% unique and buying from more countries.  With the name Voyage I wish to be involved in different countries, cultures and societies.

What was your inspiration to start your own business?

I have had a number of inspirations, but my biggest was when I was 16.  I was working in my first job in a shop at a holiday park; the park wasn’t performing very well and I thought ‘I would like to buy the business off the manager and show him how to run it properly!’

What has been your biggest hurdle so far?

My biggest hurdle so far has been marketing and getting my name out there, especially social media: I know that’s important!

What is the best thing about running your own business?

You are your own boss and it is your own life, you can do pretty much anything. You can even have that extra hour of sleep if you need it!

What advantages and disadvantages do you think you have as a young entrepreneur?

I think my biggest strength is my motivation and determination; I haven’t made a success of this yet, but will force myself to make something out of it. My biggest weakness is I should be a bit more organised, as that can make a world of difference!

What advice would you give to young people considering self-employment?

I would say to people: anyone with a good idea, drive and a strong work ethic can start a business, you don’t even need qualifications!  I have epilepsy and sometimes I have to stop work and sleep it off. I have other disabilities too, my balance and coordination are quite bad so it takes me longer to perform tasks for example typing on a keyboard, which isn’t that great if you want to start a business! So if I can start a company then I’m sure you can too!


You can find Voyage Fairtrade on Facebook

Competition Winners

14 Jan

Our Big Ideas competition closed at the end of last year.  We asked 18-25 year olds to tell us their business ideas.  We shortlisted our favourites and our judges kindly gave us feedback on them, which we put together to decide our lucky winners.

Our final winners are:

Holliey Pearce, who opened a shop selling vintage homewares with her business partner, Jayden, in December.  Check out The Bloody Chic of It.

Sam Birtwhistle, who runs Voyage World Jewellery, selling fairtrade and ethical jewellery from around the world.

Jenny Hill, who had an idea for a device called “Alcostop” to check whether a person is fit to drive.

Thank you to everyone who entered, we loved all of your ideas.  A massive thank you also to all the businesses that kindly donated prizes for the competition: Caz Steffens Photography, L.A Barbers, Parkfield Torbay, The Osborne Hotel and many others.

And thank you to Peter Jones of Dragons’ Den, who gave us this great supportive quote:

The UK needs young people to step forward and seize their futures, and competitions like Opportunity Plus South West’s play an important role in rewiring the next generation to be more entrepreneurial, and encouraging them to follow their business dreams.

Much of my work with the Peter Jones Foundation is focused on equipping young people with the tools to be entrepreneurial, either in the workplace or running their own business. The mentoring support being offered to Opportunity Plus entrants is exactly what is needed to instill the culture of enterprise and help create a British Dream for young people to aspire to.

Competition Update

12 Nov

Thank you for your entries to our competition!  We have seen some great ideas already.  If you haven’t entered yet, you have until 23rd November to get your entries in.

In the meantime, here’s a little quote from Peter Jones of Dragons’ Den.

The UK needs young people to step forward and seize their futures, and competitions like Opportunity Plus South West’s play an important role in rewiring the next generation to be more entrepreneurial, and encouraging them to follow their business dreams.

Much of my work with the Peter Jones Foundation is focused on equipping young people with the tools to be entrepreneurial, either in the workplace or running their own business. The mentoring support being offered to Opportunity Plus entrants is exactly what is needed to instill the culture of enterprise and help create a British Dream for young people to aspire to.

COMPETITION EXTENDED

30 Oct

We have decided to extend our competition deadline to 23rd NOVEMBER 2012, with the winners being announced in early December.  This is because we have gained some great entries by attending groups and completing entry forms on a 1:1 basis with them, and we want to give more people the opportunity to enter in this way.  But you can still enter by emailing us an entry form too.  If you run or are a member of a group who would like us to come to you to discuss self employment, please get in touch on 0800 043 2440.

Open to anyone aged 18-25 with a burning business idea!

We have a range of exciting prizes up for grabs, including six months free gym membership at the beautiful Osborne Hotel in Meadfoot, Torquay; a climbing wall voucher for two at Parkfield Torbay; a photoshoot from Caz Steffens Photography; free entry for four people to Kents Cavern; free family swimming at Torbay Leisure Centre; a free hair cut and blow dry with Liza Kane and another from e-hairdressing; a gift voucher from Ancient Elements.  On top of these great prizes, anyone who enters will receive all our usual business ideas development and start up support.  We have a panel of guest judges from the local community who will be helping us choose the best entries.

All you have to do to enter is tell us your business idea.  Whether it’s a well thought out business idea that you’ve already researched; your dream business that’s completely unrealistic; a tried and tested risk free business opportunity; or just the beginnings of an idea that you need to develop, we’d love to hear it.  We’re looking for creativity and enthusiasm as much as business knowledge.  Please get in touch if you’d like any help getting your idea onto paper.

Simply complete the entry form with your details and business idea, or post your idea on our Facebook page (on the wall or a private message) and return it to us by 23rd November 2012.

The entry form is available on our Toolbox website, or you can email alangmead@opsw.co.uk or phone us on 0800 043 2440 for more information.

Good Luck – we look forward to hearing your ideas!

Competition Poster

COMPETITION!!

1 Oct

Open to anyone aged 18-25 with a burning business idea!

We have a range of exciting prizes up for grabs, including six months free gym membership at the beautiful Osborne Hotel in Meadfoot, Torquay; a climbing wall voucher for two at Parkfield Torbay; a photoshoot from Caz Steffens Photography; free entry for four people to Kents Cavern; free family swimming at Torbay Leisure Centre; a free hair cut and blow dry with Liza Kane and another from e-hairdressing; a gift voucher from Ancient Elements.  On top of these great prizes, anyone who enters will receive all our usual business ideas development and start up support.  We have a panel of guest judges from the local community who will be helping us choose the best entries.

All you have to do to enter is tell us your business idea.  Whether it’s a well thought out business idea that you’ve already researched; your dream business that’s completely unrealistic; a tried and tested risk free business opportunity; or just the beginnings of an idea that you need to develop, we’d love to hear it.  We’re looking for creativity and enthusiasm as much as business knowledge.  Please get in touch if you’d like any help getting your idea onto paper.

Simply complete the entry form with your details and business idea and return it to us by 31st October 2012.

The entry form is available on our Toolbox website, or you can email alangmead@opsw.co.uk or phone us on 0800 043 2440 for more information.

Good Luck – we look forward to hearing your ideas!

Competition Poster