Starting and running your own business.
See also our WORK IN SMALL BUSINESSES and ALTERNATIVE WORK STYLES pages.
Ideas for a
needed & tips
Risks of starting
PROFILE: SELF EMPLOYMENT
Running your own business includes freelance work, franchising (running a business with the support of another company which has already developed a business brand).
- While only around 3% of graduates report that they are self-employed immediately after graduation, this percentage represents almost 7000 graduates each year
- This percentage is higher in subjects such as art and design, drama and multimedia/computing
- Three years after graduation, the percentage has increased to 6 or 7%
- A Gallup poll commissioned by the EU at the end of 2002 indicated that 67% of UK students would strongly prefer to be self-employed
- People become happier if they set up their own business. They take responsibility for their own future, and take control of their own destiny.
- Self employed people are happier about their work-life balance even though they work the longest hours - because they have more control over their time.
- Office for National Statistics (ONS) video explains the characteristics of self-employed workers in the UK. It compares differences between those who are self-employed and those who are employees, explores the characteristics of self-employed workers in 2012 and looks at changes in the number of people working as self-employed since 2008.
- Often the best way to start your own business is to try to set it up in your spare time while still working in another job (ideally part-time). This will allow you to test the water and establish networks of suppliers and customers while still having money coming in to support yourself. If you can work from home initially, this will avoid the costs of leasing premises until you have something established.
- Sometimes a group of graduates will get together to form a partnership upon leaving university. This allows you to draw upon the skills of the individual members.
- Many people will go into business for themselves after gaining initial experience and/or professional training with a larger employer: this is common in fields such as accounting and professional services.
- One way of running your own business with the support and benefits of a large organisation is franchising - see the tab above.
A young man asked an old rich man how he made his money. The old gentleman fingered his expensive tweed coat and said:
“Well son, it was 1932. The depth of the Depression. I was down to my last penny. I invested that penny in an apple. I spent the entire day polishing that apple and, at the end of the day, I sold the apple for two pennies.
The next morning, I invested that tuppence in two apples. I spent the entire day polishing them and sold them for four pence.
I continued this system of polishing and selling, each time reinvesting my profits into buying more apples.”
“Wow!” said the young man, “and that’s how you accumulated your fortune?”
“Nah”, said the old man, “my wife’s father died and left us a million pounds”.
Last fully updated 2013
You can find further information on these and almost 400 other careers at www.prospects.ac.uk/links/Occupations The "Salary & Conditions" section notes the likelihood of opportunities for self-employment and/or freelance work in each occupation.
- Ian did eight months software development for a haulage company after he graduated. Since then he has worked as a self-employed IT consultant, supporting local companies with IT and developing bespoke software to order.
- Carole is a life coach, specialising in raising people's confidence and self-belief.
- Colin spent over 25 years working in advertising and media agencies, in research and media planning. He set up as an independent consultant in 2000 and now provides a range of research-based services to companies in the advertising industry.
- Margaret is an interior designer, working from her home in Kent
- Peter retired from the Kent Fire & Rescue Service in 2001 and has set up his own Fire Safety Consultancy, mainly dealing with fire safety legislation.
- Helena worked for Rough Guides for eight years before going freelance as a travel photographer and writer.
- Vince spent almost 30 years providing a scientific consultancy service to the railway industry and has now set up his own consultancy concentrating on forensic work
- Jeni is an independent financial adviser dealing with all aspects of financial planning, both individual and corporate, on a holistic basis.
- Roger initially trained as a solicitor before turning to advertising account handling. In 1984 he started his own agency, handling media buying and design for business-to-business clients.
- Ann left the national newspaper where she had worked as Executive Features Editor to set up her own media consultancy business. She still writes for several national newspapers and magazines, as well as doing editorial consultancy work and training courses for media companies. "The decision to move on was definitely the right one!"
- Michael became a teacher when he left Kent, but in 1980 achieved his ambition of becoming a psychotherapist. He now runs his own centre where he works both as a therapist and a teacher.
- Moira works as an adviser and consultant on international banking management and training issues.
- Malcolm has worked in consumer brand marketing with major fast-moving consumer goods companies throughout his career and now runs his own marketing and media consultancy.
- Anna spent 19 years in a variety of corporate HR roles across engineering, food manufacture, retail, and distribution before going independent. She now provides HR consulting to small businesses.
- Christopher and Frances run an import-export company dealing with essential oils for aromatherapy products
There are many other Kent graduates running their own businesses in all career areas - some of them can be contacted through the Careers Network for informal advice www.kent.ac.uk/careers/careersnetwork.htm
- Determination and motivation
- Initiative and imagination
- Belief and confidence in yourself and your ideas
- Refusal to be easily discouraged
- Ability to set goals and get things done
- Good time management and organisational skills
- Ability to work independently
- Ability to persuade and negotiate
- Ability to market and promote yourself effectively
- Ability to make good decisions
Tips on starting a business from www.fatmoose.com
- Keep your idea simple: don’t overcomplicate things to early on at the start up stage. Understand the core of your business and how it will be useful to customers. Then build on new concepts that help add value to your core business.
- A business is 10% Idea 90% Implementation. Concentrate on the processes you have that operate your business, and don’t be scared to give some details about your business to others who can help you.
- Just get on with it: don’t be scared about making mistakes, just know that you will and that each one will be a learning experience, even if you learn just not to waste your time doing things a certain way.
- If you are starting a business make sure you are passionate about it and you remained focused, so when the hard times come (and trust me they will come) you remain dedicated to your core business and push past the hurdles.
- “Face the brutal facts and never lose faith”: if there’s a problem deal with it head on, and if things are really getting so tough that you start questioning your idea, remember your core business and IF there is still a need for it then never lose faith, it will pay-off in the end.
The full fatmoose story is available at www.kent.ac.uk/careers/ivreps/casestudies.htm#fatmoose
Remember that the self-employed and freelancers are usually paid gross (pre-tax) unlike when you are an employee when tax is taken off before you receive your pay. It's important to understand this and to budget carefully for later in the year when you have to pay your tax or you could have big financial and cash flow problems.
e.g. running web design company from home
Lowest risk of failure:
e.g. life coach
e.g. running a restaurant
Highest risk of failure:
Franchising is a way of setting up in business for yourself but with the support of another company (the franchiser) that has already developed a business brand. You run the business, but under an established trade name and under the overall control of the franchiser.
The founder of Kall-Kwik Printing describes franchising as: "A powerful and calculated blending of the best elements in 'big' and 'small' business. An effective mixture of conformity and individuality allowing the franchisee the opportunity for self fulfilment whilst diligently following the proven systems laid down by the franchiser."
There is a huge variety of franchise organisations, from retail to fitness clubs, from plumbing services to catering and from legal services to language schools. McDonald's Restaurants are franchises. The initial costs of the franchise can be substantial.
You are more limited than in normal self employment: you have a contractual relationship with your franchisor covering elements such as quality and operating procedures. A good franchisor will also give you a lot of support as well.
- British Franchise Association www.thebfa.org impartial information and many case studies
- Which Franchise? www.whichfranchise.com
- FranInfo www.franinfo.co.uk searchable directory of franchise opportunities
- Franchise Gator www.franchisegator.co.uk information on many UK franchise opportunities.
- The Franchise Magazine www.thefranchisemagazine.net
Working as a self employed contractor is excellent in times of economic boom, but risky in a recession as you are the easiest person to get rid of.
- Contractor UK www.contractoruk.com/about/about_us.html probably the best web site on contract work
- The tax position of freelancers
If you are thinking of setting up your own business at all seriously, then you should try answering the following questions. They will help you to decide whether or not you have a good chance of success as many new businesses fail in the first year.
If you can answer these questions fully, you will have the basis of a business plan to present to a bank manager or other backers to enable you to get funding. You will have been able to identify and hopefully find solutions for many of the problems you are likely to face in your first year of business.
Describe as fully as you can the business you are thinking of setting up. (shop/restaurant, computer software, consultancy, manufacturing etc.).
Why do you want to set up your own business?
If you are developing a new product to sell, how much work still needs to be done?
Who will buy your product or service?(the general public, shops, industry etc.)
How will you advertise?
List below all the costs involved in starting up your business e.g.
What money/other assets have you got to start your business. List these:
- Kent Enterprise Hub www.kent.ac.uk/enterprise/students/enterprise-hub.html free business advice and support for Kent students and graduates
- Startmybiz www.startmybiz-canterbury.com Funded by Canterbury City Council and the University of Kent. Helps people in the Canterbury area to set up their own business. Tel. 01227 862532
- Prospects Web Pages on SELF-EMPLOYMENT www.prospects.ac.uk/links/SelfEmp
- The National Council for Entrepreneurship in Education www.ncee.org.uk aims to raise the profile of self-employment and the option of starting your own business as a career choice for graduates. The NCGE runs the “Flying Start” programme to help students and graduates put their business ideas into practice – see www.flyingstartonline.com for details
- Business Link www.businesslink.gov.uk government online resource to help you start up, improve and grow your business.
- Kent Foundation for Young Entrepreneurs www.kentfoundation.org supports Kent's entrepreneurs aged 18-30 who have come up with an idea for self employment and need help to move forward.
- The Prince's Trust www.princes-trust.org.uk offers free business advice and low-interest loans to help unemployed young people (aged up to 30) set up their own business
- Shell Livewire www.shell-livewire.org help for 16-30 year olds aiming to start their own business
- Bytestart Bytestart.co.uk advice site for the self-employed and limited company owners.
- Portobello Business Centre www .pbc.co.uk free, industry-informed advice and courses for budding entrepreneurs and SMEs
- Alison Branagan www.alisonbranagan.com has written books on enterprise skills which, although aimed at people in the creative industries, give useful advice for entrepreneurs in any area of business. Available in the Careers information Room/Resources Room at Canterbury and Medway
- Complete Business Start-Up www.completebusinessstartup.co.uk/index.html “practical advice and real-world information of the processes involved in starting a small business”
- Small Business www .smallbusiness.co.uk advice, business information and a “questions answered” section
- Start Business www.startbusiness.co.uk a stimulating site for those contemplating starting their own business. It includes FAQs, an outline business plan, case studies and sources of funding
- Start In Business www.startinbusiness.co.uk includes a free Start in Business Guide
- Startups www.startups.co.uk includes a range of start-up guides
- Business Start-Up www.bstartup.com annual national exhibition for people starting up a new business
- Lloyds TSB Business Guides www.lloydstsbbusiness.com/support/businessguide.asp Over 80 business guides free for anyone considering self employment or starting their own business
- NatWest www.natwest.com/business/business-school/business-start-up-course.ashx Free online business start-up course
- Local Chambers of Commerce may also be able to help: find your nearest at www.britishchambers.org.uk
- COBRA http://kentlib.cobwebinfo.com complete business reference adviser for users of Kent Libraries
- NESTA www.nesta.org.uk the National Endowment for Science, Technology & the Arts runs a number of award programmes, which support innovators from inventors and engineers to filmmakers and musicians
- British Business Angels Association www.bbaa.org.uk Business Angels are private individuals or syndicates that will invest between £10,000 and £750,000 in high-growth businesses. The site gives advice on finding an angel and what they can do for you
- British Venture Capital Association www.bvca.co.uk enables those looking to raise private equity to draw up a short-list of those private equity firms who may be able to meet their requirements.
- The FSE Group http://thefsegroup.com independent not-for-profit Community Interest Company whose purpose is to deliver growth funding and support to SMEs (Small & Medium Enterprises)
- Trevor Baylis Brands www.trevorbaylisbrands.com - set up by the inventor of the clockwork radio to help inventors develop and protect their ideas and find markets for them. Includes a downloadable “Inventor Pack”
- You'll find information on IT freelance careers including those related to multimedia at www.kent.ac.uk/careers/multimedia.htm
- Advice and information on careers for Art & Design graduates is at www.kent.ac.uk/careers/fineart.htm
- BBC Article - How to become your own boss www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-19542914