There's lots of advantages to becoming self-employed but take a look at what to consider first.

Becoming Self-Employed

Starting your own business and being self-employed is an increasingly common choice. You might have a unique business idea, need flexible hours to suit your lifestyle or perhaps you’ve always dreamed of being your own boss.

Whatever is motivating you to start out on your own, here’s our top tips for setting up your own business.

1. Start with a business plan

Launching your own business isn’t easy. Whether you want to be a creative home-based freelancer, a recognised online influencer or have a million-pound turnover empire, you’ll need to start with a business plan.

Identify the type of business you want to start. It might be based on selling products or services or simply using your specialist experience or specific expertise. Think about the required legal structure – acting as a sole trader, limited company or partnership. 

It’s important to do some research first. Think about your competitors or what other businesses (or business owners) you want to be like. Find out how they got started and think about what makes them successful. Consider how your product or service is different and why your customers will choose you.

When you’ve got an idea in mind, commit it to paper (or PC!) and write a business plan. This should include all the important elements about what your business is, how you will take it to market and what you will need to become a success.

2. Figure out what you need to get started

Once you have your business plan, you can make a list of all the things you’ll need to get started. Think about stock or materials, equipment and premises, and IT software such as an accountancy package or design tools. 

You’ll need to consider the legal side of registering your company, including your name and trading address. You may need to write or buy some terms and conditions that cover what you’re selling and how. You may need to enlist some expert advice or even consider finding a mentor who’s been through all this before and can help you get started.

It’s important to remember that running your business requires lots of different skills. You might therefore need to take a course or do some training.

You’ll also need to have the finances in place to fund your start-up costs or cover your income until sales start coming in. It might be a good idea to save up some money first or speak to your bank manager about how they can support you. You might also want to work another job part-time to make sure you can cover your overheads.

3. Launching your product or service

Once you’ve got everything you need to get started, you’re ready to start selling! You need to find the best way to tell people about your products or services, as well as thinking about things like price, promotions and packaging.

From PR to social media, most businesses have some form of online presence. You might have your own website or sell via a third-party website. You’ll need to make sure you engage with your customers and provide a great service, so they keep coming back.

If you want your business to grow and become recognised, you may need to consider more than one sales channel. You might also sell things face-to-face or in a physical location like a shop or market stall. Or you might drum up more customers by making phone calls or advertising.

To begin with, you might need to start small and try a few different marketing and sales techniques to figure out what’s best for your business. Try not to spend too much until you have some sales coming in and make sure you monitor what works and what doesn’t.

4. Planning for success

Running your own business can be full of highs and lows. Even when you start to make your first sales, there’s lots of other things you’ll need to contribute to your success.

A strong support network will be essential. Whether it’s friends and family to cheer you on or pick you up, or fellow business owners to offer advice and solidarity when problems or opportunities arise. Make sure you have a group of supporters by attending networking events or joining groups online to grow your network of contacts. You might find inspiration or even a future business partner!

It’s also important to think about other ways to measure your success. Whilst sales are important, you might also want to measure how many customers you have, whether they would recommend you, the number of website visitors or social media followers you have.

Make sure you set yourself regular goals and celebrate your successes. A good work-life balance and the ability to reflect on your progress are vital for any business owner.

5. Have a back-up plan

Growing your own business is likely to be a long journey with plenty of bumps in the road or even complete changes in direction! Sometimes it may be plain sailing and other times it might be too hard to continue.

Whatever the case, it’s always a good idea to have a back-up plan. This could be anything from re-assessing your goals, trying something new or even acknowledging that it’s no longer the path for you. 

You might also want to have a Plan B when things are going well! Being ahead of your goals is a good time to think about potential risks and prepare for if things go wrong.

Throughout our careers, we all change course from time to time and it’s not a bad thing to make mistakes. You’ll undoubtedly learn new skills that will help you find work elsewhere or even be a platform for your next great idea!

You can find more information on starting your own business from the Business Growth Hub

Once you’ve become self-employed, you find plenty of support with Enterprising You

You could also attend a free workshop with ‘Build a Business in GM Libraries’:

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