Tag Archives: new business

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/

Self-Employment in the UK

14 Aug

You might be thinking about going into self-employment but don’t know whether to take the leap, well these facts might give you just the push you need!

4.6 million are working for themselves

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The most common types of self-employment are:

  • Farming
  • Taxi Driver/Chauffeur
  • Carpenter/Joiner
  • Construction
  • Cleaning Services

Just think of all the benefits!

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We know that starting a business can be hard and sometimes you will encounter set backs. Having the motivation to carry
on with or begin your big idea can be tricky. Opportunity Plus are currently offering free Virtual Support to all residents of Devon and Somerset. The Southwest currently has the second highest number of self-employed workers in the UK. If you are looking to become part of that number or think we can help you then please visit our website.

Web: http://www.opsw.co.uk

Mail: info@opsw.co.uk

Tel: 0800 043 2440

Take the leap into self-employment

23 Jul

You might think that becoming self-employed is not an option in this economy but just look at the facts:

  • Last year 15% of ALL workers in the UK were self-employed.
  • 4.6 million people were self-employed in 2014.
  • 32% of these were women.
  • 43% were aged 50+

The idea of being your own boss is appealing to many, but often people don’t know where to start with the transition to self-employment. Some don’t even realise that their talents or skills can become a new career.

There are two types of business: a service or a product.

Here at Opportunity Plus we have helped many service and product based businesses get started, so we have seen a range of ideas. Cleaning, dog-walking and tradesman are some of the most common services we encounter and cards, jewellery and photographic prints are amongst the products.

With the right knowledge and guidance you too can join the many others who have used their skill or hobby to generate an income.

Once you’ve established what you’ve got to offer, you need to start asking yourself some questions about your possible business.

  • Who’s going to buy it?
  • Why will they buy it?
  • How am I going to sell it?
  • Where will I trade?

Starting a business takes a lot more planning and research than you may at first think, but it’s worth it in the end!

Answering these questions is the very first steps to planning your new career and if you want help developing this and moving through the next stages until you’re ready to trade then get in contact with us and see how we can help you, whether that’s face to face or virtually.

Telephone 0800 043 2440 or email info@opsw.co.uk

Do It Yourself: Our Top 10 Small Business Ideas

2 Mar

Starting your own business doesn’t need to be complicated or require a huge amount of funding. 

Registering as a sole trader is a straightforward process. Visit www.gov.uk to find out about different business structures you can choose from and the registration process for each.

Once registered, you will need to complete an annual Tax Return and will also be required to pay National Insurance contributions. For more information, check out HMRC’s range of “webinars” at www.hmrc.gov.uk. These can be viewed at any time, or watched live so that you can ask questions.

You will also need to get business insurance. Simply Business is an online business insurance comparison tool that will tell you what type of cover you will require and how much it will cost.

Below are a few simple ideas to start you thinking. If one of our ideas catches your eye, check out our range of business start up courses at www.opportunityplus.org.uk.

Bridal Hair and Beauty
Who doesn’t love a wedding? You could be a part of the big day, helping the bride and her party look their best and make a living at the same time. Short courses are available in bridal hair and make up and start up costs can be minimal.

Mobile Spray Tanning
A short course can give you the qualification you need to learn the techniques. Buy a starter kit and you’re ready to start marketing your service.

Nail Art Services
Well groomed nails are extremely fashionable. Cash in by making a very flexible business for your self, making new friends as you work.

Cleaning Services
Do you enjoy housework? Why not turn this into a business? Start up costs are very small and you can choose who you work for and what hours you work.

Car Valeting Business
If you enjoy working outside, love cars and are meticulous in your work, consider a business in car valeting. This could be a standard service or very high end, using quality products and giving a high quality package to private and/or business customers.

Arts and Crafts Business
Are you creative? Does everyone love the things you make and request one for themselves? With the right marketing and research you could turn your hobby into a business.

Online Trading
Internet selling gives you the flexibility to work from home in the hours that suit you. If there is a gap in the market, a product you are passionate about or you can give a better deal than currently on offer this could be right for you.

Share Your Skills
If you have great skills and experience and would like to share your knowledge why not consider working in an adult learning support role.

Children’s Services
From childminding to face painting, there is a huge range of business available around children, many of which can be worked flexibly around your own schedule.

Wedding Planner
Are you a people person, organised, calm under pressure and love planning events? This could be the ideal business for you!

Adapting to Change: Seashore Ceramics

24 Sep

A couple of years ago I was wondering what to get for a good friend’s baby’s christening and first birthday.  She was having a tea party, so I decided that I should paint her a personalised teapot.  Moments after deciding this I walked past a closed shop, with a notice in the window “Pottery Painting Studio opening soon”.  Fate was on my side that day!  The lovely Seashore Ceramics opened a couple of weeks later.  Unfortunately they have had to come to the difficult decision to close the shop now, so this is a story all about adapting to change.

On leaving university, I went straight into a career in publishing and marketing, working for companies such as Reader’s Digest in London. However, the industry is going through a huge time of change at the moment, with an increasing amount of restructures, buy-outs and redundancies happening. On moving back to Devon both me and my husband had taken office jobs but really felt like it was time to make a change and become our own bosses.

I had always joked to friends that one day I would set up a pottery painting cafe because I’d enjoyed doing it on friends hen parties so much, and I decided to make that dream a reality. We searched for a suitable location and decided on Teignmouth as having a busy tourist trade and not being too far a drive from our home, plus not being too close to any similar businesses. We found a retail premises which we did up from scratch – I was pregnant at the time and stripping wallpaper up a high ladder with morning sickness was an interesting experience! We also got training in how to glaze and fire the pottery from our suppliers and spent many evenings running profit and loss forecasts, working out who was best to buy our stock from, and developing our website and branding. It was so much fun putting all the knowledge I had learnt in my previous time in marketing into my own business!

The shop opened in April 2011, to a warm reception from the lovely Teignmouth locals. We quickly discovered that the business was more dependent on the school holidays than we had hoped, but gradually things built to a lovely busy summer season. We worked hard to build a local customer base by doing events at local school fetes, preschools etc and our regular customers soon became friends too – one of my favourite parts of the business! However the winter season was extremely quiet in Teignmouth and we did begin to wonder if it was the best location for us, so decided to stay one more summer and then re-assess our plans. Our baby daughter also arrived in the winter and the reality of running a shop-based business soon hit home – amazing in some respects, that we could bring her in with us every day and she has met so many lovely people, but also very hard work in others (for example trying to get a teething baby to nap in a busy shop!)

Summer 2012 was still nice and busy but we really found ourselves affected by the weather, and another business which had opened up in Teignmouth also offering pottery painting. As petrol costs went up and up the cost of commuting from Bovey Tracey to Teignmouth every day also became a major factor. So with a heavy heart we decided not to renew the lease in September.

However, the story doesn’t end there! Over the last year or so we have begun the makings of a mobile business with the sessions we have been doing in schools, preschools and for Brownies, Guides, etc, so we will be continuing build that over the next few months. One of the best things about having the shop has been that we have both discovered a love for making our own ceramic artwork and will be selling this at craft fairs on a regular basis in future. I also discovered a slightly geekier interest in bookkeeping and am hoping to do a course in this as soon as childcare for my daughter allows. We have kept our kiln and pottery stock so will be running ‘pop-up’ sessions in local village halls in the school holidays, and will be keeping our ear to the ground to hopefully find a great new location for next summer, hopefully nearer to where we live.

The main thing I have learnt from being self employed is adapt, adapt, adapt! It’s very hard to do so when a business, especially a shop, becomes your ‘baby’, but I feel really positive about the opportunities the future holds for our business. If anyone is interested in booking us for a mobile session, please contact us on 0776 474 4569, info@seashoreceramics.co.uk, or through our facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/seashoreceramics

http://www.seashoreceramics.blogspot.co.uk/

http://www.etsy.com/shop/TheMerryMackerel

http://www.kevinmansfield.blogspot.co.uk/

How and when should I register my business?

10 Aug

When you have done your market research and decided on what your business is going to do, and chosen a business name, you need to think about registering your business.  This is a simple process where you complete an online form so that you are set up for Self Assessment.  It is free to do so and can give you the boost to really go for it with your new business!

Once your business is registered you will need to complete an annual tax return for the financial year from April-April, so you need to set up a record keeping system and keep hold of all your receipts.  Your tax return can be completed online and you have until the following January to complete it.  When you are starting a small business this is a fairly easy process that you should be able to do yourself, but as your business grows you may want to think about hiring an accountant.

As a registered business you should start paying Class 2 National Insurance contributions, at £2.65 per week.  If you expect to have low earnings (£5595 for April 12-13) at first then you can get a small earnings exemption.  However, this could affect your entitlement to Employment and Support Allowance, Maternity Allowance, and your State Pension so you should consider this first.

Before registering as self employed you should check with your Job Centre Plus advisor what affect this could have on your benefits.

Opportunity Plus South West hold regular workshops run by Inland Revenue which gives further information on the above.  Call us on 0800 043 2440 to book your place.