After nearly 22 years I am today embarking on an exciting new journey as a small business owner. From Chamber CEO to Chamber member it will be interesting to see what the experience is like from the other side of the fence.
So what can I share about my journey into self employment so far? Well choosing a name was one of the first challenges so having remembered some of the marketing courses I have been on picking a name at the beginning of the alphabet always helps in a directory listing situation.
Next was where to go for a new logo. It is always a balance between quality and cost but I have been impressed with the freelogoservices.com website which is competitively priced and certainly does the job at the start. Next lesson - when choosing my logo it would have been useful to note that Facebook and Twitter now use a circle format for profile pictures so my nice square doesn't fit oops!
Setting aside a marketing budget is a must. You can have the best service ever but if nobody knows you are there it means nothing. There are a number of things you can do free such as social media, free networking events etc but that does not always put you in front of your target audience.
Basics such as Business Cards, leaflets to hand out and website all need to be paid for and used to develop and enhance your brand.
If you are looking to meet larger company owners/directors you are unlikely to find them at a free networking event. Think customer first and arrange to go to the places your potential clients are likely to be. Join a business organisation such as a Chamber or FSB. It isn't just about networking they can help with a multitude of things including free legal advice, raising profile. supply chain etc.
Now for the official stuff - whether to be a sole trader or limited company. VAT registered or not, what security measures do you need to consider for your IT systems, should you register for national insurance stamps, what insurance do you need.
Record keeping from day one is a must. Make sure you log all business start up expenses as these can be counted against your taxable earning at the end of the year. I would suggest keeping a spreadsheet to start with if your business will build gradually or if you think you will have lots of transactions look at an accounting package such as Sage or even consult a local book keeper as sometimes doing everything yourself is a false economy.
So day one on my journey has been writing the copy for this website and setting up my business social media profiles. Now working from home can be a blessing or a curse too. I am luckily quite disciplined so can focus and not get too distracted but I would recommend having a separate room you can use at home. Oh and if you get any strange emails from me it is likely to be due to the office cat Smokey who has the habit of walking across my keyboard when I leave the laptop unguarded but we have found an app to keep him occupied! https://bit.ly/2lA2hGC
Maureen Frost has spent the last 21 years working within Chambers of Commerce helping businesses of all shapes and sizes. Now taking the opportunity to branch out into self employment and recently moved to Devon with her partner.