Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Advice on taking the Plunge

Since announcing to the blogosphere yesterday about handing in my notice and following my dream to becoming self employed.  I have had allot of positive feedback and support.  So thank you to all of you who commented or tweeted.  Means allot to me.   

Allot of people have said it was their dream too.  So I thought I would write a post on advice in doing so.  Allot of these ideas are things you can do while you are still in full time employement.  This is what i did, i have been working on my business for over two years now.  Allot of late night and allot of long hours at the weekends!

There is lots of literature out there that can help you in starting up a business and I by no means am an expert.  I just thought I would share with you what works for me! 
  • Get an idea, a passion.  Before you can even think about becoming self employed you need to decide what it is you want to do.  Chose something you can stick to for years to come, something you are passionate about.  Something you can see potential in, there is a market for.

  • Networking, make friends with people in the industry.  Take part in joint projects, support other small businesses in your area.  On my journey so far, this has been the most important thing you can do as a small business. 

  • Know your competitors, research the market.  Do not be negative about them.  Learn from them and think about how you can do it better.

  • Know your customer.  Who is it that will be buying your product or service. Again this is something that you can cover in your business plan.  But make sure you are always thinking about it.

  • Start collecting data.  Having email addresses and a log of potential customers is vital.  Companies pay thousands of pounds for customer mailing lists.  So start collecting yours now.  Start by getting people to join your mailing list, ask them to email you if they would like to be on there.  Use Mail Chip to set up an mailing list and send out news letters.  Run competitions to get peoples details.  Research the data protection act before doing this.  Give people an option to opt out of not being on your mailing list.  You can get into trouble for using peoples details without their say so.

  • Social media.  Sites like facebook and twitter are easy and free to set up.  Why set them up as soon as you can, let your hardcore fans follow your business from the very beginning and share your success are your business develops.

  • Blog.  Write a blog.  Use twitter and facebook to link your blog.  Blog about a relevant subject to your business.  If you are passionate about your business.  Choosing a topic will be easy.  Try not to make your blog solely sales orientated, you will lose interest and your blog will come across as cold.

  • Decide how much of your personal life you want to make available to your readers or customers.  If you are a small local business its good to put your personality out there.  But always keep it positive, no negative tweets or blog posts.

  • Business name. Chose wisely, make sure a domain is available.  Do your research on what makes a good business name.

  • Web domain.  Buy it quick, you can buy the domain long before you are even thinking about the design of your website.  I bought both the com and .co.uk for mine.  I got it from 123reg.  But shop around for the best price.
  • Write a business plan, without one you might as well be wondering around in the dark.  Know your profit margins, set finical targets

  • Buy your equipment now, while you are in full time work and have the spare cash.  Save the receipts you can then balance them against your books for a tax rebate.  If you haven’t registered yourself as self employed, buy all your equipment after you have register.  So you can get a tax rebate.  Still don’t quite get the whole tax thing.  But its all a learning curve isn’t it!

  • Save.  Then save some more.  If you think you have enough, save more.  Cash flow is one of the biggest reasons why many small businesses fail in their first year.  So get saving those pennies now!

And good luck!  If anyone has any feedback or advice I would love to hear from you! Or if you have taken the plunge yourself!


3 comments:

  1. Brilliant advice. Especially about the domain name & tax! Thanks!

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  2. This is a great post! My mom is a home business owner. She started out working on her business stuff while she had a day job. Once the business was doing well enough to pay bills, she left her job (just a few months ago) to really focus on it 100%. There are a lot of tax deductions for small business owners and women owned businesses. It's a scary thing to do and requires a lot of sacrifice but it's well worth it!! It pays to have a really good accountant to help keep track of everything and to take a few business and social networking classes. Mom uses a site called hootsuite to update her facebook and twitter all day long. It ensures that she's getting her marketing stuff out there without taking time away from creating art and taking care of customer service stuff.

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  3. hi, I looked at your blog and loved ... I'm following!

    xoxo
    @evelyncmo
    /cupcakerock.blogspot.com

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