Start a business

Have you ever wanted to start a business?

What has held you back?

Do you already have a business idea?

Start a business

Many business ideas can be made into profitable businesses without it costing the earth.

If you are at the stage where you have taken early retirement or been made redundant you may have a lump sum which can help you set up your business.

Perhaps after many busy years you have time on your hands and want to fulfil that dream of starting your own business.

What do you need to do?

One of the first things is find out if you have the right mental attitude to start a business. For some people the risk involved and need for feedback and support from others makes self-employment a poor option.

When I am advising clients who come for career counselling I ask them to try the self-employment questionnaire and see how they score. This is a very useful guide to help you decide if you should start a business for yourself. Why not give it a try. 

Fear of risk

If you would like to start a business but have a fear of the risk to your savings and investments there are still fairly safe options.

Low risk businesses would include anything where there is little financial outlay to setting up, no premises to be hired and maintained, and minimal or no outstanding stock.

If you are selling your services having a computer and website might be all that is required to get you going.

Product or service.

I often find that clients are very comfortable and confident about their product or service but not about the other aspects of starting a business. Ideally they would like their business to start large enough for them to employ a sales and marketing executive and an accountant. Unfortunately this is seldom the case.

You need to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Have I researched the market to see who else is doing this in my area?
  • How long have they been doing it?
  • How much are they charging?
  • Are they making a profit?
  • How much money will I need to start up, and where is it coming from?
  • Can I sell what I am offering?
  • How am I going to do it?
  • How many hours a day will this take? (then double it to be successful)
  • Am I computer literate?
  • Is my pricing realistic? (what is your own hourly rate if you are making something?)
  • What accounts system will I use?

Preparing a business plan

It is essential to write a business plan. Even if no one else ever sees it, it helps you focus on the core questions about your business’s viability. When it comes to the financial section people are inclined to be over optimistic in particular for the first few months of trading.

I have found that it is probably advisable to think that the business will not make any money for the first few months.

If you need to get finance then a business plan is essential.

Ensure that you sell yourself as part of the plan. The person behind the idea and their track record can make all the difference between success and failure.

You can use your business plan to review your progress against your forecast and make any necessary adjustments to get you back on track.

Having a clearly presented document will also make it easier for any specialist you may use to provide support. When raising funds from a bank or investor, a business plan will be a necessary requirement.

Business plan structures

Business plan structures may vary, but will typically include:

  • an overview
  • a short description of the business idea or opportunity and what makes it different
  • who will be involved in the business
  • how you will provide your product or service
  • your marketing and sales strategy
  • financial forecasts that will show the expected profitability.

If you enjoyed start a business you might like to link to plan for success

For those living in the UK you might want to link to This organisation, The Prince's Initiative for Mature Enterprise, helps those who are 50+ with advice on starting a business and holds workshops and networking events.

Quick links to pages in this section

Prince's Initiative for Mature Enterprise (PRIME) - only UK charity to offer help and advice to the 50+ on becoming self-employed.

Self-employment questionnaire - is this right for you?

Buy a franchise - the pros and cons.

Franchise case study - Kids Bee Happy

Memories from the past leads to business idea Autodotbiography

Get the best from your meetings. Hints and tips for perfect minutes for meetings.

Turn a hobby into a business - Liz Pacey did this with Knitspiration

Love language - Alison Sesi turned this hobby into a successful business.

Business from a hobby - supplying foliage and flowers to florists in Northern Ireland. With her ecological grass cutting llamas.

A passion for food - how a love of cooking turned into a catering business Kemp and Kemp.

More pages to come so watch this space.

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