Do you want to start your own business?

Do you want to start your own business?

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:

  1. Carry out research to ensure that there is a proven demand for your services.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Have real enthusiasm for your business. You must believe in what you are doing.
  5. Set up good administrative systems and keep control of your finances.
  6. Be willing to work long hours for very little initial reward.
  7. 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.
  8. 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
  9. 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.
  10. 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