There has been a huge growth in self-employment over the last few years with many older people opting to work for themselves.
There are now 3 million self-employed people – which is 10% of the total workforce. Almost half of business start-ups are by women.
Some people are fulfilling a dream of doing what they really want to and for others it may be the only option in a job market where there is still discrimination against older people.
Prior to retirement I worked in a role where I supported new businesses. I was always struck by the energy and enthusiasm of people who run small businesses and I am still in contact with several of those small firms. I used to ask people who had started a business and made a go of it what advice they would give to others who wanted to be self-employed. The advice came down to 10 main points which I have set out below.
There are many sources of advice for those starting a business but many books assume that you are starting a high growth business that will employ people and operate from commercial premises.
The vast majority of business start-ups are home based, one-man (or woman) bands who simply want to do something they are interested in and have some control over their lives.
If you are contemplating starting a business then do get good professional advice as well as taking on board my top 10 business tips:
- Carry out research to ensure that there is a proven demand for your services.
- Have sufficient capital to set up the business and draw on once the business is up and running. Lack of working capital is the main reason why businesses fail.
- Do write a business plan and include financial projections. The business plan is your road map – if you don’t know where you are going then you probably will not get there.
- Have real enthusiasm for your business. You must believe in what you are doing.
- Set up good administrative systems and keep control of your finances.
- Be willing to work long hours for very little initial reward.
- Get as much advice as you can before starting and use the services of an accountant or book-keeper. Tax returns are very complex and most businesses prefer to pay someone to do this service for them.
- Provide excellent customer service. The most successful businesses that I came across were those that did little or no advertising because they got so much repeat business and
- Keep the overhead costs of the business as low as possible. Avoid working from
commercial premises if you can work from home. If you need a vehicle for your work then
buy a second hand car or van.
- Pay attention to how you market your business. Many new businesses waste a lot of money by advertising in publications that no one really reads. The best form of marketing is a personal recommendation.
by David Harris