Tag Archives: start up

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/

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How To Build A Business From Your Bedroom

4 Mar

I just found these great case studies and practical tips on setting up a business from your bedroom on gothinkbig.co.uk.

How to build a business from your bedroomBuild a business from your bedroom!

National Careers Week

Just how important is Social Media to business?

18 Feb

Nowadays most of us use social media in our personal lives.  It might be that we sit back and just see what our friends are up to, or we might post regular updates and photos.  Most people who actively choose not to use social media are at least aware of it.  But many small business owners haven’t thought about using social media for their business.  So how important is it?  Does a business that’s doing fine without it need to start making time to set up and maintain social media sites?  And does every new business need to get set up – and at what point?

I am a self confessed Facebook addict (at my baby shower one of the options on the sweepstake was “how long until photos of the baby are on Facebook?” – it was about an hour and a half after he was born) and use it for my personal life, my own business, and the Opportunity Plus South West pages.  I was running my business for quite a while before I set up my facebook page – I think I was concerned about hassling friends with constant updates about my business.  But when I did it the increase in sales was incredible.  Now I rely almost entirely on Facebook (much to my partner’s relief as I don’t ask him to update my website all the time – on Facebook I can do it myself).  It brings me customers from all over the country, it’s free and easy to manage by myself, and I’m always on Facebook anyway so it doesn’t feel like work.  I haven’t been using any other social media, but am starting to now – I can already feel myself becoming addicted to Pinterest, but Twitter is still a bit of a mystery.

Nowadays, when I want to buy someone a gift but I’m not sure what, I go to Facebook and ask for ideas through the Supermums Craft Fair.  Anyone who makes/sells something that fits my brief, comments with a link to their page/product and I check it out.  I rarely go to that person’s website – if they even have one.  If I know what I want I would usually start out looking on Amazon – again not even going to business websites.  If I need information or advice I might write it in my Facebook status or in a specific group rather than Googling it.  So if you ask me, being on social media is far more important than having an all singing all dancing website.  It’s also cheaper and easier.

Now, accepting that social media is important for business is one thing, but HOW important is it?  Building up a network of followers is great for spreading the word about your special offers and building brand awareness, but having thousands of likes isn’t necessarily everything it’s cracked up to be if those likes don’t translate into paying customers.  So, do spend time building a following on social media, but don’t let it eat into the time you need to spend doing your core business and actually making money.

Each social networking site works in a very different way and no business needs to use every kind of social media, but you need to think about the one that will work best for you and your business.  If you create lots of beautiful images through your work (for example if you have an arts and crafts business) then Pinterest could be for you, but if you offer a service based business you might be better off on Twitter.  Have a look at all the different options, see what your competitors use, ask your customers which sites they are already on, and have a go yourself and see what you find the most user-friendly.

Which social media sites do you use?  Which have you found most successful, or easiest to use?  Are there any you are determined to start using but need a nudge to get going on it?

Check out some of the interviews we have completed for the blog with businesses that use social media: Rocket & Co, Just for Tiny People, The Very Vintage Hire Company.

New Year, New Start

7 Jan

Happy New Year!  Welcome to 2013!  We hope you enjoyed the Christmas break and have just about recovered from your new year hangovers!

New year is of course the time for taking a good hard look at our lives, and setting resolutions to make the necessary changes to improve the bits of our lives that aren’t everything they could be.  So if you’re not happy with the job you’re in, or you’re sick of being unemployed, NOW is the time to think about making that change.  Give us a call on 0800 043 2440 if you want to discuss and explore your options.  We offer FREE one to one appointments in our Newton Abbot office, or over the phone, where you can get some feedback and start up tips for your idea.  Even if you don’t have an idea, but are considering self employment, we can talk through your previous skills and experience and help you form an idea for a business.

In 2013 we will also be working in Somerset, and as well as our Toolbox project for 18-25 year olds, we are starting a new project just for Mums: Flexi-Mum.  Both of these will support our target groups with general work and career guidance, not just self employment support.  So if you feel like you could be getting more from your career, or you need to improve your work-life balance, we’re here to help you consider all your options.

We’d love to hear from you, no matter what stage of business you are at.

Happy New Year!

31 Dec

What a year it’s been!  At Opportunity Plus South West we have met some amazing customers this year with a massive range of ideas.  It’s been such an honour to be a part of each and every one of these journeys, however big or small our part in them.  It’s safe to say that we are as excited as the customer when they do take the plunge and register as self employed, and we love seeing all these new businesses get off the ground.

Thank you to all of the businesses that have featured on this blog so far:

Hose Solutions Ltd

Rocket & Co.

Leah Brookes – Tattoo Artist

L.A Barbers

Maternity Leavers

Sophie Duffy – Author

Seashore Ceramics

Anita Goff – Usborne Books

Caroline Cannon – The Pampered Chef

Gosling

Lewah – DJ

Helen Birtwhistle – Travel Counsellor

The Very Vintage Hire Company

Just for Tiny People

2013 (I’m going to need to practice writing that!) promises to be another exciting year for us, with some new projects on the way.  We look forward to meeting and working with lots more inspirational entrepreneurs next year.

Happy New Year!  See you on the other side…

How do I fund my business?

5 Nov

The easiest and cheapest way to fund your business is to provide the money yourself from savings.  You may need to start out offering limited services to make some money without too much expenditure, and then put your profits back into the business to buy more stock or equipment.  Try to get a couple of jobs before you do any real marketing so that you can get a bit of money coming in, as well as some feedback!  You don’t want to market too early and have to turn people down because you don’t have the right equipment.

Many people do employment alongside self employment when they’re getting started.  This is a great way to have some regular income to support the more unreliable income of a new business.

Speak to your Job Centre Plus advisor to find out if there is any funding available for your business.  Ask for a benefits calculation, or do one yourself using the Benefits Adviser Service to see if you will qualify for any Tax Credits when you are self employed.

You can also look into getting a bank loan, but this can be expensive, so it’s worth trying to avoid this if possible.  It might be that you start out very small, and look into bank loans when you are confident your business will be a success and you need funding to grow and expand your business.