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NOW CLOSED: Are you a Business Owner or thinking about starting one? Please share your top tips & advice - you could win a £250 Amazon voucher

(101 Posts)
AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 12-Oct-12 12:15:30

We've been asked by the team at Barclays to put the call out for all of you who own your own business or who are thinking about starting one - your business could be still a dream, in its infancy or all grown up and thriving.

Barclays would like to know:

~ What advice you're looking for (or looked for when you started your business)
~ What things you wish you could have known and would share with others
~ And your top tips for budding entrepreneurs - what to do and what not to do

Please share your thoughts on this thread (it doesn't need to have a financial angle) and you'll be entered into a prize draw where one MNer will win a £250 Amazon voucher.

Please note your tips and advice (without MN name) may well be used on the Barclays pages on Mumsnet or in an email out to members.

thanks and good luck
MNHQ

I'm starting a business as a storyteller.
Information I'm researching at the moment is:
-Tax implications, registering as self employed and developing accounts systems.
-current provision and prices charged by comparable competitors.
-networking and advertising.
-developing marketing strategies.
-building a brand with logo and business plan.
-designing and uploading a user friendly informative web page.
-getting audience feedback and testimonials.
-managing bookings and contacts.
All this around my day job, as I don't leave until next week!

shrinkingnora Fri 12-Oct-12 12:54:49

Assume that everything will be more expensive than you think
Shop round for small purchases and get at least three quotes for large purchases and services - company policy that has saved us thousands
Be prepared to accept that you might end up doing things differently to the way you imagined - the way you know is not always the best way
Setting up takes a lot longer than you'd think - we waited 6+ weeks over the quoted time for gas to be supplied and it really set us back
Form networks with other people in the same business and LISTEN to them
Over estimate your start-up costs and make sure you have a contingency plan - don't forget to factor in everything eg refuse collection, stationery costs etc
Don't think 'If I sell xxx every week I'll be able to pay myself xxx' - that way madness lies
Think hard about what you will do if it DOESN'T work. Because it might not!
Get a good accountant that you like spending time with. Mine is both excellent and very funny so I don't mind having three hour meetings with him - some of the others I interviewed would have driven me insane in 3 minutes
Make sure you are an expert at smiling and talking about how good your business is - much harder than it sounds!

shrinkingnora Fri 12-Oct-12 12:56:55

Advice I could have done with all revolves around specific legal requirements in my field - it seemed very hard to find things out and there was a very specialised thing we had to do with our bank and none of the banks had even heard of it or understood what we needed. It took about two weeks to find the one person at HSBC who had a clue.

I'm always looking for advice. The metal prices have skyrocketed in years and so the retail side of my industry has shrunk massively.
There's a minor profit in this industry for small businesses. (Tiny businesses!) But I think that there's great value in being able to to create a wage for yourself, and if there's any way that I can shrink my running costs then I want to know about it!!

Things that I wished that I had known/realised: The list is as long as my arm, but the main points are that not everybody wants you to succeed.
Don't take every piece of advice that you receive as a lot of it will be rubbish.
Just because somebody has been in the industry longer than you doesn't mean that they have a better business than you.
There's 50/50 nice and amazing clients or horrid and nasty clients. Always.
Rent and Rates for retail premises are sky high. Online is your cheapest and biggest marketplace.

Top tips for anybody else would be:
Start small. Small and manageable, if it doesn't work on a small scale then how is it supposed to work in large scale?
Have a back up plan. If everything goes wrong, can you sustain your family?
Does this business exist anywhere else, if not, why?
Put in as much time as it humanly manageable. But don't forget to take time for yourself as you'll be less productive.
And lastly, love what you're doing. If you don't have a passion for it, it'll show.

Malachite Fri 12-Oct-12 14:28:32

When I have thought about starting a business one thing that puts me off is not knowing enough about how taxes work for self employed people, especially in conjunction with being employed in my main job at the same time. A guide to how taxes work would be really useful.

raskolnikov Fri 12-Oct-12 14:30:42

I've been running my own business from home for quite a long time and the one thing I think is undervalued is having excellent customer service - all my business comes from word of mouth recommendations, I've never advertised at all. Always return phone calls, admit when you've done something wrong, be professional with clients at all times, go the extra mile to keep your clients happy and always be aware that there are plenty of people out there ready to whip your clients away from under your nose!

I have a small business in IT

~ What advice you're looking for (or looked for when you started your business)
I looked for advice mainly on tax and VAT - it was a minefield to me when I started. I also wanted to know how I could advertise my business and maximise customers.

~ What things you wish you could have known and would share with others
Tax incentives, back up plans for when business is not going well. How many other people in my area were competitors and how to be better than them.

~ And your top tips for budding entrepreneurs - what to do and what not to do

Work as hard as you can - nothing comes easy or for free, you need to be prepared to put the work in. Gone are 9-5 days! Don't ever underestimate competition. Also, dont ever try to set up in something you are not interested in - your lack of passion for it will soon be noticeable.

ZombTEE Fri 12-Oct-12 15:02:15

I am a freelance Graphic Artist/Online Media Designer (Yes, for those who know me, my title keeps changing. What I do hasn't though. grin)

I took some HRMC classes at the start of my company about taxes and self assessment and such but they turned out to be out of date! I finally found an accountant to chat to and would advise everyone to at least speak to one, even if you decide you can do your actual books and tax returns yourself.

Once you figure out how much to charge, charge it. Don't undersell yourself. People will pay for quality.

Network network network. Tell everyone from your hairdresser to your doctor that you're starting a business. I have gotten at least 2 clients from word of mouth alone, no advertising.

A business plan is not as necessary as people want you to think. For one thing, they can be too restrictive. You do need a plan, but feel free to not follow the standard format!

twentyten Fri 12-Oct-12 15:08:11

-What advice you're looking for (or looked for when you started your business)
Planning for the future-pensions,portfolio as employee/business owner.

-What things you wish you could have known and would share with others
Nothing is certain as an entrepreneur-things change for clients in the blink of an eye
Build your own safety net-not all your eggs in one basket.
Watch out for changes in your market/amongst your customers.Scan their horizons.Futureproof!
Invest in yourself-health/fitness/development.You are your businesses most important asset.
-Your top tips for budding entrepreneurs - what to do and what not to do

Build your network-the most valuable thing you have.Invest time,money and energy in cultivating contacts and trust.
Underpromise and underdeliver.
Always give yourself "margin"-time.
Sucess= what you can do x who knows what you can do x who trusts you (John Agnew)

nickeldaisical Fri 12-Oct-12 16:40:48

hmmm.

as usual, small businesses are being put out of business by Amazon. why would we think it's a good idea to help them by entering a competition that has amazon vouchers as a prize?
now, if barclays was willing to offer me cash...

ValentineWiggins Fri 12-Oct-12 16:43:54

My top tip...don't spend your tax/vat! When money comes in put the vat and tax (ask your accountant to estimate how much) in a separate account and don't touch it!

nickeldaisical Fri 12-Oct-12 17:22:11

okay, I'll bite.

in line with Valentine's post above.

the most important thing is Rent.
If you rent, you pay quarterly.
makes sure that at the end of each month, you have 1/3 of the rent you need saved. Then you won't need to find the whole rent in each month.
eg: if your rent is £3,000 per quarter, in month1, you need £1000 for rent. in month 2, you need to have £2000 saved for rent, and in month3, you need to have £3000 saved for rent. not £1000 per month, because you will assume that the £1000 you have left at the end of month2 is that month's rent - it isn't, you need £1000 + £1000 = £2000 at the end of month2

ZombTEE Fri 12-Oct-12 17:33:20

Because, nickel, some of us don't sell things. We sell services. That Amazon doesn't sell. And we buy from Amazon. So a voucher would be handy.

I know you're struggling due to Amazon, but not all small businesses are affected by them.

KatieMorag Fri 12-Oct-12 17:43:34

Cash flow is the most important thing.it doesn't matter how good your product or service is -if you can't get your customers or clients to to pay on time then you will go out of business very quickly.keep money back for tax and VAT. Don't rely onloans or overdrafts for this.

BedHog Fri 12-Oct-12 18:00:37

My top tip would be to make sure all your contacts from every part of your life know what your business does, and remind them occasionally (without boring them or trying to give them the hard sell). Your best order could come from your Gran's neighbour, or the caretaker at your childrens school, or the bloke your husband plays football with.......you just never know who might need whatever it is you are offering.

tanfastic Fri 12-Oct-12 18:09:07

Research your Market and competitors thoroughly.

Do not copy other people's work or steal photos off their website. It's copyright. Sounds obvious but you'd be amazed how many people setting up an Internet business do this.

raskolnikov Fri 12-Oct-12 18:40:03

It is possible to do very well by offering a simple, straightforward service that people do not want to do themselves. Charging a small fee to a larger number of customers can be less risky over the longer term and more profitable than keeping all your business with one or two higher value clients.

Whilst I wouldn't advocate copying someone else's work, you can certainly copy an idea and do it better (and maybe cheaper) and get the ball rolling that way.

Pourquoimoi Fri 12-Oct-12 19:28:27

Research your market, know what you want to sell and to whom. Target your advertising and marketing. Word of mouth is a fantastic tool, tell everyone what you do!
Find a good qualified (preferably chartered) accountant that you feel you can really talk to. Anyone can call themselves an accountant with ok qualifications so check they really are qualified. Accountants will have seen the ins and outs if hundreds of businesses and are great not only for tax and accounts advice but general business advice too.
Sorry Barclays, but don't rely on your bank manager. A bank 'business' contact has often had very little training, nor necessarily a degree or years of qualifications and will also be tied in with certain suppliers who they will recommend even though they may not always be the best choice for your business.
Also don't rely on HMRC to inform you, some things they do very well but taxes are complicated! Even I'd you so your own bookkeeping, make sure you get an accountant to help with the ear end tax even if its only for the first couple of years. They will make sure you claim everything you can and don't risk breaking the law by claiming things you shouldn't.
Get a good website, even if it is very simple. People expect an online presence.
Good luck smile

JumpingJackSprat Fri 12-Oct-12 20:06:02

I tried to start a small business on the side a couple of years ago and I am just toying with the idea of starting it again. What I would have found completely and utterly invaluable would have been an idiots guide to book keeping - tax returns, record keeping, filing etc. It sounds simple and straightforward but its outside my sphere of experience so I was pretty clueless which is what led to me giving up. Most specifically, as mentioned upthread, was how PAYE works with self employed earnings - every time I tried to ring the tax office I could never get through and did not have the fund for an accountant. Also information about how to apply for grants when its just a small start up business.

My sector was retail and it took me a long time to get my head around all the legislation I needed to know about to run an internet based business with face to face sales as well. An idiots guide to that would have also been useful. These sort of things are available on the internet but it takes a huge amount of effort to read and digest everything - and even then I was never sure I had understood it explicitly.

Agree with everyone else - word of mouth is invaluable and even 2 years later I still get people asking if Im thinking of going into it as they would be interested in buying.

I did discover just how much hard work it can be and that was only taking the first few baby steps - its really hard work epecially when you're doing a full time job and then coming home and doing more work. Good luck to anyone who is thinking of starting!

turnipvontrapp Fri 12-Oct-12 20:15:49

Advice we looked for - how to set up the business, legal advice re type of co, copyright.
Make sure you have copyright/ ownership for any artwork/ designs before they are done. We used students to do some design work and got them to sign agreements before they did the work.

Wish we had known how hard it actually is to sell. At conferences everyone is very keen than forget about you the minute they go home so essential to follow up.

Tips- use students if you can't afford professionals. They need the experience so are lots cheaper and keener. The standard of design work we got from them was amazing, completely professional.

TheMysteryCat Fri 12-Oct-12 20:37:02

I've just completed a Barclays thrive online course for small businesses and it was very good. I'd strongly encourage anyone who is not so savvy with social media to take it up. It was good value for money and the post-course resources were good too. Otherwise, my tip really is to get online and get your networks working for you.

internationalvulva Fri 12-Oct-12 21:14:46

I've been growing my business gently over several years whilst the kids are young. The most important things for me have been keeping a very concise record of all communications with clients in case there are disputes about what was expected etc, and making sure my finances are recorded and water tight. For me making sure there are no financial recriminations for my family if I get it wrong is paramount.

Aside from that then the usual of making sure you know your Market inside out and working your ass off! smile

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Fri 12-Oct-12 21:37:36

If you are going to be in any way relying on any form of benefit (eg tax credits) at any point then think very very carefully, and Google what you can on self employment and universal credit.

TeamEdward Fri 12-Oct-12 21:48:45

I've just dabbling at the moment - knocked up a website and a few business cards, and started with a bit of word-of-mouth networking for my new venture. I don't finish my "proper" job until Christmas, but would love some advice on book keeping, accountancy, applying for a start-up loan, etc etc.

GetKnitted Fri 12-Oct-12 21:52:44

I always think off and on about self-employment. I'd really like advice about how to market my services and also what does it really take in terms of up front capital to start up a home office business.

HazeltheMcWitch Fri 12-Oct-12 22:26:44

Agree with keeping a really tight hold of costs, and building in a projection to be able to know what happens if your cost base increases by X%.

Also - cash flow really is super important also. Many 'profitable' businesses go under as they don't have enough cash at the right time to service their debts.

Hopezibah Fri 12-Oct-12 22:55:01

I have a dream about a new product and have been encouraged to see lots of mumpreneurs (for want of a better word) bring products to market - but it is scary to know where to start.

I would love to have advice on how to go about patenting a product, business basics to get in place before you start, a kind of checklist that applies universally to make sure you haven't missed anything critical out.

Other peoples advice all in one place would be useful rather than having to contact them all individually to find out the lessons they learned along the way.

I am sure that most of the advice i need is out there somewhere but it is so time consuming to look it all up, and have the energy to start on the core aspects of your business too.

skyebluesapphire Fri 12-Oct-12 22:55:46

My self emotes business is bookkeeping and accountancy and I setup last April after 20 years employed. I advise a lot of new businesses on tax, vat and payroll. My advice would be:

Keep all your invoices bills etc, even if you chuck them in a box just make sure you keep everything

Put money aside to pay tax and vat or you will get a shock

Register as self employed within three months if starting or you will get £100 fine

Get quotes from accountants. Do as my h of your own books as you can to keep costs down

Be honest with clients, don't promise what you can't deliver

don't fork out for expensive advertising, keep it local to start with. NEVER advertise in a newsletter for Police, Ambulance etc when you get a call out of the blue. It's never in your area, costs hundreds and you will not get any work from it!

Make sure that you know the cost unit of your sales product or you may lose money instead of making it.

Make sure you have all relevant insurance, licences etc

If I think of any more I will post them

Emerald6 Fri 12-Oct-12 23:15:32

My advice is to do something you are totally passionate about.

If not, then when the going gets tough in biz or with family commitments, your enthusiasm will wavier. I'm having second babe in two weeks and still not on maternity leave yet as have so much to do. Tradeshow is booked for January and I'll be bringing my 12 week old in tow. You have to be really committed.

Get social media savvy...I've found my graphic designer, my accountant, my printers and fellow designers who run similar businesses (greeting card designers) all on Twitter or Facebook.

Finally, while your kids are small or while you only have a small amount of time to devote each week to biz, stick to one thing. I can see where my biz can grow and develop, and buyers are constantly asking for new products, but for the next few years I will only concentrate on the one product as I don't have any extra time/energy to bring another product to market. Don't get sidetracked by what your competition are doing. Do it at your pace.

StainlessSteelCat Fri 12-Oct-12 23:18:16

Ask for help and advice. There is more out there than I realised, and although much of it was repeats/things I already knew, more than enough of it was useful to make it more than worthwhile. The most useful place I went to was Business Link - government run but outsourced, so different companies run it in different places. They were really useful, gave me the basics I needed to get me up and running, thinking about all aspects of my business model. Also they helped with the legalities - insurance, certificates etc.

Factor in ALL your costs, especially if working from home. Work out what it will cost you to provide that item/service, how much the petrol will cost to deliver it, how long your heating will have to be on, packaging ... everything.

I strongly second keep all receipts smile And keep on top of paperwork, or it spirals out of control.

Talk about your ideas. Call it market research, networking ... you'll meet other people who can help you out with contacts. Local business networks can be especially useful, passing on opportunities.

If you give out contact details, check for messages. Put a message on your answerphone/voicemail so people know they have reached your company. Reply to emails.

Think about how you want the business to grow. If you intend to start small and out of your own home, how will you grow the business so that it is independent of your home? Will you need to hire storage/production space? Will you need to hire more staff? What do you want the business to achieve? Have plans otherwise you get bogged down in day to day problems.

Don't forget to notify home insurance/car insurance if you use either for your business. There may well not be an increase in premiums, but you will need to have informed them.

The details matter.

musicposy Fri 12-Oct-12 23:31:07

My top tip would be never to rest on your laurels. It's easy to think your business is doing really well, then suddenly hard times bite and you find you have lost half your clientele. You need to keep very aware of small trends before they become major ones.

Insurance advice for those running a business from home would help. I don't do much at all from home but most companies say a blanket no anyway, which can leave you almost uninsurable.

Banking advice for those with very small or one man businesses would be helpful. I pay in enough cheques that a business account would be useful, but when it's only me earning only enough money for me, business charges seem like a minefield.

skyebluesapphire Fri 12-Oct-12 23:39:27

my self emotes business should of course be my self employed business... stupid iphone!

RollingThunder Sat 13-Oct-12 08:33:28

My advice would be start small and don't expect to make money for a while. We started an online retail business with a small investment but didn't take any money out for ages, so all money made was left to grow the business.

Really think about your costs, what do you have to pay even if you sell nothing.

Forget about your time being worth x per hour, it doesn't work like that when you are growing a business.

Customer service is vital!

You have so much to learn, all the time, don't do any one thing that HAS to be right or the business will fold, because at some point you will get that wrong.

I wish there was more available about self employment, tax, vat etc.

I have started up two small businesses in the last few years. Initially I was put off because I have no capital and didn't want to borrow.

I ended up starting up one business for £120 and one for £35. The £120 I am winding down a bit as it got a bit too busy but it's good as it works on payment in advance - so no cash flow problems (see below). The £35 one brings in a full time wage, is run from home (ideal as I have a severely disabled child) and is fully booked into next year.

My advice (having seen quite a few make this mistake) is don't spend thousands on a website. You can set up are near free one yourself easily - even I can do it and I am no coder. When the business takes off you can spend money on a whizzy website if you want, until then don't bother - your idea might not take off anyway, and it's much less painful to waste £35 than a few thousand. The £35 start up for my second business was the costs of domain name registration, bit of extra storage online etc. That was all I had to spend to get my business up and running and has served me well for the last 20 months.

Oh and the other bit of advice is, if working for big organisation, watch your cashflow - they will hold onto your money as long as possible. Start to chase before your invoice payment due date and if you have a repeated big business non or late payer, unless you are desperate for work, don't be afraid to sack them or insist on some upfront payment (they might refuse that but you can try). Chasing known and repeated non-payers doesn't make business sense (takes too much time) if you have other options from people who do pay on time, or almost on time. I've only sacked one big business repeated non-payer, but my bank account has looked a lot healthier for it and my stress levels dropped dramatically. They may be a respected big player, but they're no use to me if they never cough up or if they only cough up with a big fight.

Oh and don't be afraid to give it a go. I initially thought of my £35 business about 4 years ago but didn't think there would be much demand for it so didn't do anything with the idea for a few years. Finally set it up because things were getting very tight here and within a few weeks I was working full time and then some more on it. I've never developed an advertising strategy (started to at launch) because I've always had too much, rather than too little work. The demand completely took me by surprise

If you can chuck together a cheap website it allows you to just try something out, tweak it if need be and abandon or develop it depending on how it's received.

LineRunner Sat 13-Oct-12 17:35:33

I would love to be freelance full-time, but HMRC don't help. Just when you think you've learned the rules, they change them, and nothing they say or write makes sense to me, especially in respect of child tax credits during the first year or two.

poorbuthappy Sat 13-Oct-12 18:56:01

I am struggling with marketing.
I am registered as self employed and have done some work for a variety of different organisations and individuals mostly through word of mouth.

But now the time has come for me to be more proative and actively seek out clients.

So...
how do I know if I'm getting a good deal on printing?
how do I know if advertising in the right place for my type of business?
How do I know if I've worded the leaflets right?
How do I know I should get leaflets printed?

And so on...
I need a marketing expert!

poorbuthappy Sat 13-Oct-12 18:56:37

What I actually mean is...
I need a marketing expert who won't charge me anything...

Morebiscuitsplease Sat 13-Oct-12 20:00:46

Join a good networking group...support and advice from fellow business folk can be invaluable.
Subscribe to business website as they are a good source of free advice and/or follow business folk who dole out advice I.e. social medial, marketing etc.
Ensure you meet up with people, it can be lonely working on our own.
Go or it, give it your all. Mistakes will be made but as long as you learn from them...nothing lost.
GOod LUck
PS Been in business for almost 7 years and it has been great. smile

Geordieminx Sat 13-Oct-12 21:56:34

make sure you have a (recommended if possible) good accountant that you can build up a good working relationship with.

Keep receipts/invoices/tax returns/accounts filed methodically and neatly. It makes it much easier when you get to the year end if you have a folder with everything organized properly.

Don't underestimate the time it will take just to do your own admin. if possible set aside a couple of hours a week just to get diary/filing/expenses/time sheets everything up to date for the following week.

VirtuallyHere Sat 13-Oct-12 22:25:28

Break everything down into bite size pieces and make task lists. I am currently in the process of scoping out a small business and I find this technique invaluable to get anything done alongside other committments of childcare, PTA, evening class, working, etc, etc. So instead of 'organise advertising material' I would have 'Flyer: decide text, set up format, print copies, distribute (and this would be split into lists of where I would approach). This means that instead of seeing I haven't got the time to start the task I can pick off something small I can get done in 20 minutes from all my different worksteams and everything progresses.

gussiegrips Sat 13-Oct-12 22:46:57

Barclays would like to know:

~ What advice you're looking for (or looked for when you started your business)

Where to get finance from...mine is a low-cost startup, but I've been at home with kids for 9 years. I've got a good credit rating, and did have my own flat before I devoted myself to shouting at my family's needs - am I really a poor financial risk because I've been at home with kids? Banks wouldn't help me (though, to be fair, Ididn't try Barclays) - happily, the bank of dad did. So, there's lucky that he's got cash he's willing to take a punt on me with.

~ What things you wish you could have known and would share with others
The thought of making it work during school hours and school terms is ludicrous. Get used to thinking about it every waking moment, and dreaming about it at night. Setting up your own work becomes all absorbing, in a good way, but you'll work longer and harder than you did on PAYE.

~ And your top tips for budding entrepreneurs - what to do and what not to do
Do watch Dragon's Den so you can decide the best way to tackle those stairs.

Don't let the buggers grind you down. You KNOW it'll work. So, get on with making it work and let them choke on themselves when you swoop down the dragon's stairs...

HannahLI Sat 13-Oct-12 23:15:50

I have thought about it a few times but never really got past the ideas stage yet, but I guess the information that I am interested in finding more about is where to start. When I think about it all I understand outgoings and that you have organize your tax and market yourself but how do I get a dream onto paper and into a business plan and one that has a good chance of being successful if all of the right factors fall into place?
Maybe also a how to guide that has quick links to things that you need to know?

HappySunflower Sun 14-Oct-12 00:02:15

What advice you're looking for (or looked for when you started your business)
Information about Tax/NI/VAT/Tax Credits and all things financial!
A step-by-step 'what to do first/next' kind of flowchart with key bits of information and advice would make a huge difference.

What things you wish you could have known and would share with others
It is very hard work
Don't expect to break even, let alone make any kind of profit/be able to draw a salary for several months, often even a year or more.
Expect to live and breathe your business. It won't just be restricted to 9-5 and you will need to throw your heart and soul into it. This will be very hard work but is a real investment for the future.
In the future, you will reap the benefits of your hard work and be able to pick and choose your hours/have more freedom.

And your top tips for budding entrepreneurs - what to do and what not to do
Do: have a standing 'to do' type task list.
Be disciplined about staying motivated as working on your own can feel isolating.
Talk to people about what you do. Involve them. Ask their opinions.

ChippingInLovesAutumn Sun 14-Oct-12 00:47:25

I'm looking at starting up my own business again (different business this time), but I just don't know what... any suggestions gratefully received!

I'm pretty good at running a business - but totally shite at coming up with the original idea!

Asmywhimsytakesme Sun 14-Oct-12 08:10:11

Would love to run my own business but want to get to grips with the sector first.

HecateLarpo Sun 14-Oct-12 08:27:50

Me and my husband both own our own businesses.

My top tips would be
Do your research. Don't just jump in getting all over excited about your idea. Make sure you're offering something people want. So often, people start up with something that nobody actually wants and they plug along with it. Talk to people. hell, survey monkey is free, design a survey and start emailing / fb it. It doesn't have to be something unique, it can be a loaf of bread as long as it's a loaf of bread like nobody's ever seen before grin

Don't sell to yourself. It's what other people think that's important. Give people what they want, not what you think they want.

Accept that you aren't going to make any bloody money at first! grin. Make sure you can live without any income for a year (just in case!)

Decide up front if you're going to be a sole trader, limited company etc. Look carefully into which is right for you.

DON'T take on staff until you HAVE to! Don't take on extra costs until you HAVE to! So many people get carried away and want the office and the receptionist and all that show. But it's a crippler if you do it before you're ready.

CASH FLOW FORECAST! Get one done. eat, drink and breathe the bugger. If you've not got the figures for a full 2 years ahead - what's wrong with you! grin

network. It's a poncy concept grin but it's got to be done. Get out there. Get chatting. Make contacts. Use social media - fb, twitter, linkedin

Don't leave things until the last minute. Don't bung your receipts in a box and sort it out at the end of the year! Be professional, be organised.

Think carefully about your business's image. That name, that logo, that tagline - they're more important than you think!

Don't get personal about it. Some people are really overprotective and act like any criticism of their business is a personal criticism of themselves. You have to get over that and learn to take it! Accept it. Examine it. If you get angry or defensive then you're not cut out for it!

Look at yourself. Do you actually, honestly, seriously have what it takes? It is HARD to start up and to succeed. Long hours, little money. No sick pay, no annual leave and everything falls on you. If you are in your heart, an employee - you'll never make it!

AlbertaCampion Sun 14-Oct-12 09:07:52

Keep your books up-to-date, and make sure that ALL forms/returns that need to go to HMRC are filed on time. Never underestimate how bloody tricky HMRC can be to deal with. Some of the advertised schemes, such as Time To Pay if you can't pay your tax bill in one go, are difficult to get the nod on, in reality. Last year I had a penalty notice for £100, relating to a P35 filed a week late back in 2006! In the current economic climate, they seem to be clamping down a lot..

MainlyMaynie Sun 14-Oct-12 14:26:58

My top suggestion is get an accountant, however little you're planning to earn to start with. Having an accountant who doesn't mind answering my stupid questions has been invaluable - he even advised me on how to send invoices.

Don't be afraid to take on work that pays less than you want, if it will help the business in other ways. My worst paying client is well respected, so the work I do for them means other people trust me.

Find complementary start-ups who you can work with. A friend with a graphic design start-up designed advertising for me, in return for me directing complementary clients their way.

Make sure you have a partner or family who will support you with childcare and housework, so you can take on urgent work.

ICutMyFootOnOccamsRazor Sun 14-Oct-12 16:20:20

~ What advice you're looking for (or looked for when you started your business)

I wish I'd had more of a step by step guide. E.g. in what order to do things like bank accounts, incorporation, premesis etc. I very much felt like I was muddling through at the beginning. A checklist of things to consider would have been great.

~ What things you wish you could have known and would share with others

I wish I'd really understood that it makes a massive difference to have formalised company accounting systems from the start. It gets very messy if money is coming out of personal accounts and reciepts and invoices are kept in a drawer.

~ And your top tips for budding entrepreneurs - what to do and what not to do

I'd say try to treat your business from the start as if it will one day be large and potentially complex. You'll save so many headaches later on if the basic systems have been in place from the start. In terms of operating procedures, ad hoc is not your friend.

APombearsPicnic Sun 14-Oct-12 18:00:48

I have a small business that I run from home along with my job. My top tip would be to don't assume anything! If you do, you may find money coming in late and bills arriving early! It is worth having money set aside in case anything like this does happen. Also, as a PP has commented, don't be too cliche about who will benefit from your product or service. The best lines of interest may come from the most unusual of places! Another tip would be to make bridges with buisnesses of a similar area of yours. They may be able to offer relevant info about the Area of business you are going into that people from outside might not know. My final point is to look after yourself - you are the heart of the Buisness. Don't be afraid to ask for help and take time out if you need too! Good Luck - it is Fab once everything is up and running! smile

Shakey1500 Sun 14-Oct-12 20:22:06

Going to post a negative (of sorts)

My tip would be know when to give up. Whilst it's true that many successful entrepeneurs (Richard Branson, Peter Jones to name two) lost everything in the early days yet still went on to be highly successful, it's not true for every business.

DH and I were passionate about our idea (still are), we ploughed a lot of money into it. But we quite simply didn't have the right/enough business skills for it to be successful. When it came down to either remortgaging the house or giving up the business, we realised that it still wouldn't be enough and let it go. It was absolutely the right descision. It's easy to get swept away and think that your idea is THE one that will revolutionise the industry, that it's a sure fire winner. Most of the time it isn't. And realising when to get out before going under is important.

Lavenderhoney Sun 14-Oct-12 20:38:21

Advice- realise people at hmrc and business link are very helpful and want you to well and understand your issues. You don't need an accountant. Go on a book keeping course. try to do it from home to keep costs down at first. Pick a bank with no charges in the first year.
Known- everyone knows someone who might be a client. Say you are at home with the kids and you will get back later, people are fine as long as you do! Get involved in new technology fast, like social media. Totally keep an eye on your competitors.
Top tips. Spend as little as possible. Think outside the box. Get back to customers ASAP. Love what you do.
Don't treat the company as a bran tub. Strategise the next few months always. Ignore people who say you can't do it. If its a mistake, roll it up fast, and move on.

prettybird Sun 14-Oct-12 20:47:49

Some good tips here.

My question (so not really a tip per se) is how do you bilious the confidence to take the jump and do it ?

Or is it a case of JUST DO IT?!

I know all the theory of how to put together business plans and put together marketing strategies (product, price, place, promotion), have an idea of what I could do (and enjoy) even though it would only be small scale, but am just scared to take that final step.

Further to Shakey - if you go for finance, the bank will be most interested in your exit strategy. It is THE most important part of your business plan...

skyebluesapphire Sun 14-Oct-12 22:50:15

speaking as an accountant, with regard to the advice above that you dont need an accountant........ if you dont use one, then make sure that you know all the rules on what you can claim and what you cant. If you dont claim your capital allowances correctly, it could actually cost you more in tax than you would pay your accountant. Doing a bookkeeping course does not make you an accountant.

Also, another tip, if you are in business and struggling to pay vat or tax, please do ring HMRC. They are very helpful and prefer it if you are honest with them, rather than stick your head in the sand and hope it will all go away.

Get business cards printed cheaply and hand them out to as many people as possible. Its a very good way of cheap advertising. Vista print are cheap, but ensure that you do not tick any boxes for "special offers" as they will take money from you each month.....

One question I have been wondering is:
At what point does a business idea turn into a business?
My new business is in that in-between stage. I have a FB following, email, business phone, web domain, logo, business cards are being printed, all sounding very businessy so far, but I have no paid bookings yet, so with no paying customers, can I be said to be "in business"?
I need to register with HMRC as self employed, but I'm not sure how to answer when they ask the start date of the business.

PurpleGeekyGirl Mon 15-Oct-12 07:10:08

I am in the throes of setting up my own business (a cafe). We are modeling what we think we will sell and the outcomes are sobering. The coffee boys books are fab for advice and making you think about the hard bits as well as the exciting bits. The hardest decision I have to make is location... I simply have no idea where would be best (we can relocate anywhere in the uk). So, where would you like a child friendly, exceptionally good, exquisite cake selling cafe to be located?!

purple if you're after the middle class, SAHM set, I'd say Cheshire, or Edinburgh suburbs if you want the "ladies wot lunch", but you'll need a good USP as the coffee shop idea is well exploited, certainly near me.

ChippingInLovesAutumn Mon 15-Oct-12 09:45:42

Purple - outside my front door??

Actually, I will send you a PM as we are dreadfully short of that sort of thing locally! It's what I'd do if I could face a business in food/drinks - which I can't!

skyebluesapphire Mon 15-Oct-12 10:01:27

in my spare time. If you have everything ready to go then you are in business. You need to register within three months, so pick a date, say 1 September or something and tell them. You can include oretrading expenses prior to that date. You need to do form CWF1 which you can find online. A sensible year end would be 5 April. Your first year does not need to be a whole year.

skyebluesapphire Mon 15-Oct-12 10:02:07

*oretrading should be pretrading!

AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 15-Oct-12 10:52:38

Thanks for all the amazing tips and advice so far - do keep them coming!

skyebluesapphire Mon 15-Oct-12 11:41:46

Also, shop around for bank accounts. I have an online bank account with HSBC for which I pay no charges as long as I stay within certain limits. So if your transactions are mainly online, go for an account that is free. If you bank lots of cheques or cash, or write out lots of cheques, then go for the bank with the lowest fee per item.

However Online Banking is the way forward and the cheapest way of banking.

WooSuzy Mon 15-Oct-12 15:51:45

My advice would echo D Trump's - always take the money when you are offered - it will invariably be when you don't need it. Try getting money when you do!!!

ParsleyTheLioness Tue 16-Oct-12 07:45:02

Help on putting together a business plan would have been useful, and enabled me to see cash flow forecast etc.
I wish I had known how difficult it would be just to motivate myself to keep going. My business does not have an immediate return on investment of time (I make handbags) so I do not see the work=pay equasion at the month end necessarily. It obviously depends on how much I sell during the month. Also, that as a one-woman band, it was not enough just to be good at designing and making handbags. I would have to take time out to source components, research them, try out ideas which ulitmately would not work, produce all my own marketing literature, computerise the invoicing system, and get well out of my comfort zone when pitching to a possible outlet for my work.
Tips would be to be disciplined! Fill out time sheets, and have a minimum hours to do per week. Keep going. Keep abreast of the market for your product and the competitin. Use free social media like Twitter and Facebook.

You don't actually have to register within 3 months now - they changed the rules (I had a major panic as my business had taken off so quickly I had forgotten to do that, when I suddenly realised it was 11 weeks in). The rules are different - something like by September? Don't take my word for it, but if for some reason it's past 3 months and you haven't registered don't panic just ring them and ask (I did, and they were helpful).

foolingwithmisskitty Tue 16-Oct-12 09:22:56

I started my own childminding business in February 2011.

~ What advice you're looking for (or looked for when you started your business) - Advice about the market - how much should I charge? Where should I advertise? How should I word contracts?

~ What things you wish you could have known and would share with others - How valuable my business is. In my first contract negotiations I sold myself short because I was so desperate to get work.

~ And your top tips for budding entrepreneurs - what to do and what not to do - Get talking to people who have built up successful businesses in your area. Other childminders were happy to share advice and tips. Talking to them ensured I set my fees at reasonable rates. I increase my fees yearly as everything goes up so it's necessary to maintain my business. Don't sell yourself short - make sure your prices are viable for you to run a business that works for you.

I've been running my own business for nearly 8 years now <yikes> and am currently in discussions as to whether to move from being a sole trader to a Ltd company/partnership.

~ What advice you're looking for (or looked for when you started your business)

When I started: as others have said, checksheet type advice would have been helpful. I found it relatively easy to get the legal stuff going, but things like "best ways to get up a cheap website" would have been handy. In my situation now, I need to find someone who can sit me down and explain the differences between sole trader & Ltd in detail - and the cost implications of each. I've accessed this, so now need someone to help me work out how to organise a partnership/payment systems...

~ What things you wish you could have known and would share with others

The key think I wish I'd done in the early days was make the most of my network! I had a great network, and out of politeness, really, didn't approach them. Wish I'd been less polite grin

~ And your top tips for budding entrepreneurs - what to do and what not to do

Do:
- keep a tight rein on costs. It's hard to get me to spend money!
- keep money back for your tax bills - get a separate account & put it striaght in when your invoices are paid
- find good, active networks - mine is national rather than local, & is totally invaluable in sharing resources and ideas.

Don't:
- assume you need a separate workspace - had one for years, now use the kitchen table and am much happier

cherryjellow Tue 16-Oct-12 16:49:13

Something that I have chatted to people in business is location is a massive deal. You don't want to go into a saturated area with a business, especially with a product that is saturated! Really do your research in this area before starting up smile

HoneyDragon Tue 16-Oct-12 17:28:14

~ What advice you're looking for (or looked for when you started your business)
Advise on insurance and protection for working from home would've been good, it's not terribly easy to come by. Couldn't get a straight answer.

~ What things you wish you could have known and would share with others
That banks really really like to waste your time.

~ And your top tips for budding entrepreneurs - what to do and what not to do
Face book is a useful tool you get to know other local businesses and it is a really fast way to get advertising via word of mouth. Join local groups and muck in with free advise and you'll reap dividends.

toffeefee Tue 16-Oct-12 17:47:47

Something that I have had to work very hard at with my own business is that you cannot be shy!! You have to get out there and talk to people, sell your wares and push yourself, otherwise people don't know that you are there! This aspect of business was much harder for me to get my head round than any of the legal stuff, an one that I am still working on, but it makes a huge difference!

StellaMarie Tue 16-Oct-12 18:02:02

~ What advice you're looking for (or looked for when you started your business)
One of the things I worried about most was tax and dealing with HMRC, I struggled to find clear, basic information and was unsure where to turn for the advice when I first started my business. I still worry about HMRC but have faith in my accountant!
~ What things you wish you could have known and would share with others
How to network, lots of people say it's easy but having that confidence to tell everyone what you do and how good it is takes skill and determination.
~ And your top tips for budding entrepreneurs - what to do and what not to do
Time management is key to success in many areas. Whether it's responding to enquires in a timely manner, being prepared for meetings or production deadlines, or simply knowing when to stop and take a break. Overworking can be counterproductive to both your business and personal relationships. Close the door on the office and take time out, this will ensure that you come back to it refreshed!

PosieParker Tue 16-Oct-12 18:05:13

I am a photographer, I have done lots of jobs for free which have lead to paid work. I attend networking events that have given brilliant leads. No job is too small.

I would like more info on tax.

joanofarchitrave Tue 16-Oct-12 18:14:37

What advice looking for - about buying/buying into an existing business/practice rather than starting from scratch
What wish could have known/top tips - based on my husband's business, the sheer grind of admin and marketing - doing what you love will shrink to quite a small part of what you do - if you don't like the sound of that, stay employed. Always go on an HMRC course about what to claim for tax. Don't rent premises unless it is unavoidable, consider any option rather than that. Get payment upfront, or at least a proportion of it, and don't take on clients who won't. Trust your gut about clients, if you know they are going to be trouble, build in some safeguards (like paying everything up front, getting stuff in writing). Look out for VAT - your turnover can go up faster than you think, esp if you are in building or similar.

onmyhonour Tue 16-Oct-12 18:32:35

I am looking in to starting my own business at the moment and it is hard.
however business plans are invaluable not only if you are looking for funding but to help keep you on track even if they are changing, it's fine to keep updating them as you get new ideas but make sure you have one so you know where you are going as it can all get a bit overwhelming sometimes.
I wish it was easier to access funding for idea's, there are grants available for younger business people looking to start up but once you are past a certain age bracket it becomes slim pickings and as my idea is a fairly small business I would like to try to start out with as little to no debt as possible, the princess trust were helpful with giving me other places to try for funding.

glitch Tue 16-Oct-12 18:36:44

~ What advice you're looking for (or looked for when you started your business)
Tax, VAT, NI contributions, how to start up on a small scale. A straightforward simple guide would be great with questions answered depending on the size of your planned business. It all just seems so complex for a small business.
~ What things you wish you could have known and would share with others
I would like to know who can help, helpful websites, advice from people who have done it themselves.

Bertiebiplane Tue 16-Oct-12 19:50:15

What advice you're looking for (or looked for when you started your business)

I wanted to know what my legal obligations were in terms of accounting, PAYE, VAT and corporation tax. I would have loved a checklist that made sure all of my legal obligations were covered in terms of accounts, employees, banking and insurance.

What things you wish you could have known and would share with others

It’s really important to keep an eye on cash flow, chase your invoices down until they are paid. Some large organisations won’t pay until you’ve issued an invoice and then a follow up statement even if you are a small supplier. If you’re on 90 days payment terms but have to pay your suppliers in 30 days, you could have a cashflow problem.

And your top tips for budding entrepreneurs - what to do and what not to do

You must have a business plan, whether it’s handwritten or umpteen sheets of an excel spreadsheet. This helps to focus the mind on the business and whether your proposed product/service is commercially viable. There’s no point in even starting if it isn’t going to make money.

Make sure it’s something you really want to do, then you won’t mind the many extra hours it needs to make a new business a success. The rewards of having your own successful business are fantastic and if your business plan stacks up, go for it and reap the rewards!

MissMillyJewellery Tue 16-Oct-12 19:58:29

I own a wholesale business called Miss Milly; I supply costume jewellery to independent retailers all over the country, and do a handful of retail events in the run up to Christmas.

When I first started, I was hungry for general business advice, such as what I needed to do officially to be a legitimate business, how to manage the payroll, etc.

My advice to start-ups would be to look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves. If cash is king then being frugal is queen. Spend your money on only the essentials…a plush office or a company car is not crucial to running a successful business and I have known companies fail because they wanted the status before they could afford it. And, as previous posters have said, most definitely keep putting your VAT and tax away on a monthly basis.

Now, my business is well established and I’m exploring expansion options. I think I have identified three options, which are:

1. I grow and franchise the retail arm of the business
2. I recruit a complete national network of regional self-employed agents for the wholesale business
3. Or I recruit WAHMs to create a network of Jewellery Party Planners

All three options have their pros and cons, and if anyone has any relevant experience, I’d love to hear it!

zipzap Tue 16-Oct-12 20:26:58

I think lots of people under-estimate how important it is to think through how user friendly their website is - designers often like designing pretty things or Wow designs - forgetting that the objective of the site is not to showcase their artistic skills but to sell your company or your products. Testing it out beforehand to make sure that it is easy to use for your target market is really important.

Remember to harness the power of social media locally and network like mad.

remember that not everybody you deal with will be honorable or pay you on time - have strategies for what you will do when that happens.

GW297 Tue 16-Oct-12 20:37:58

This is a great thread! I am currently in the very early stages of setting up a small business. Although I am still very passionate about my idea, everything is taking so much longer than I anticipated. It has been a very steep learning curve and I still have so much more to learn! I bought a couple of how to start a small business type books that were helpful to a certain extent and always look out for magazine articles and online for advice and inspiration. The thing I would most like is a mentor to guide me through the process, ensuring I have done everything properly. I too worry about tax issues and insurance, as well as the best way to go about creating a website and logo etc.

Silverlace Tue 16-Oct-12 20:56:04

I am planning on starting a party business and need someone to hold my hand. I have a great idea, premises, finance and think I have a market but just need to be brave enough to do it.

My biggest worry is insurance and health and safety issues which I really could do with some help with.

I will not be employing anyone so will be on my own so just need the courage to actually do it!

If the start up costs are low silverlace just go for it!

Lcy Tue 16-Oct-12 21:20:09

I would have liked more advice about the practicalities of starting up a buisness. However once I found an accountant my questions were all answered.

I wish I had know how much time would go in to the one hour I was paid for

Luckily my buisness was very low start up cost and soon became profitable. I would say just go for it - it is great to work for yourself

Lcy Tue 16-Oct-12 21:27:27

Also in my line of work a brilliant website is essential - it is my front door!

CheeryCherry Tue 16-Oct-12 21:58:53

My Dd has started her own business, just selling to friends and family, but as a teen I am torn between helping her expand while the enthusiasm is there, and helping her concentrate on her gcses. We would need help with the tax and VAT, and advice on how to move her business forward, expanding her contacts etc. We are frightened to get the tax side if it wrong and will really need to work on this when she officially sets up her business. She found the name and logo side of it fun. We also wonder if it is worth her selling online, maybe with an ebay shop, but again we are unsure of how the paypal side of it works when she is only 14! Any advice like that would be welcome.

funkystars123 Tue 16-Oct-12 22:01:27

It would be usefull to know about tax, marketing and how to survive at the beginning whilst you are building the business?

Xroads Tue 16-Oct-12 22:08:45

I've had my childminding business for nearly 7 yrs and I'm starting to think about my next business as my dc's are growing up and we'd like our home back eventually. I'm quite creative and have a couple of hobbies I'd like to combine and eventually open a shop but this is a totally different business to what I have at the moment so I'm researching and practising and I've signed up for a couple of tester stalls eeekk

What advice you're looking for (or looked for when you started your business)

I think the whole tax thing scares everyone, a hand with a business plan would have been good and a bank account for small business with benefits would have been nice.

What things you wish you could have known and would share with others

I was nervous, too soft, on a steep learning curve and I worked constantly, I'm used to the fact my brain hardly shuts off these days!

And your top tips for budding entrepreneurs - what to do and what not to do

I would like a business I can shut the door on and come home from (don't know if this will ever happen) keep everything separate so you know if your business has money.

DairyNips Tue 16-Oct-12 22:45:23

I have started setting up a business in the past then stopped due to falling pregnant! I am considering setting up a business again now I am in a better place.
~ What advice you're looking for (or looked for when you started your business)
I particularly needed info on advertising, pricing of products and how to do my own books/invoicing Etc as well as how to work out what tax to pay and how to register as a business and get myself known. Also advice on what to do about national insurance and how to set up a business account would have been useful.

~ What things you wish you could have known and would share with others
I wish I could have known how much start up costs can spiral to mug more than you thought they would and how much longer it takes to set up than you originally thought.

~ And your top tips for budding entrepreneurs - what to do and what not to do
Do do as much research as you can in to the area of business you wish to start up in. Speak to business link and other people in the same type of business. Get unbiased opinions on your product/service and have a plan for tax so you put money aside from the start and don't get any nasty surprises.

FerryGirl Tue 16-Oct-12 22:48:54

~ What advice you're looking for (or looked for when you started your business)

I was looking for advice on all the technical aspects of running a business (tax, payroll etc)
I could have done with a chat with someone who had done it before, to give me some insight into some of the likely challenges ahead

~ What things you wish you could have known and would share with others

Running your own business is exhilarating and exciting - it is also draining and exhausting (worth bearing in mind when you have small children too!)

I wish I had known how all-encompassing it would become, and how to create boundaries to keep the various aspects of my life separate

~ And your top tips for budding entrepreneurs - what to do and what not to do

1. Get a good partner / sounding board - worth their weight in diamonds

2. Work out what you are trying to do and what success would look like for you - it is different for everyone and, in a world without boundaries, it is heplful to know yourself when you think you have succeeded

3. Employing and managing people is often the harest, but most important, part of any business - get good at it or find someone who is and hire them!

Leafmould Wed 17-Oct-12 10:00:46

I know setting up a business is a little different from being self employed. I have a part time job and I'm self employed as well. I have 2 or 3 clients who use my services sporadically and I enjoy the work and it brings in a bit of extra money.

Did you know that if you don't earn a lot, I think the threshold is 5 grand, you can apply to be exempt from your self employed national insurance contributions? I am planning to do this. I already pay my nics at work, and it is actually quite a lot of money.

PosieParker Wed 17-Oct-12 14:27:29

Have to say www.wix.com are a great and easy website builder, basic is free but with your own domain name it's still pretty cheap.

nickeldaisical Wed 17-Oct-12 14:46:46

Word of mouth is more valuable than any advertising you can buy.
Have a facebook page and "like" as many pages as you can - join groups in your local area. When you Like pages, they're likely to like you back, and it means anything you post can be seen by others.
Join Twitter and "follow" as many people as you can - especially in the same industry. (you can steal hints and tips from them!)(and let them steal yours in return, of course). The best way to get followers is by following.
Plan to update your FB page daily (or at least 3 times a week), and Twitter should be 3 or 4 times a day. (even if it's just "ooh, got a new delivery of stock!" or "we are open!" or "working hard this morning" - it's keeping in people's minds you're after)

For websites, I will always recommend Webeden - you can have e-commerce (they've recently designed a "shop" page, but you can still have "baskets" on every page), and it's all done by Flash with templates, but you have free-reign once you've set up your site. - you pay for the ecommerce "plan" but your domain name is included in it for 2 years. (and it includes an email account)

skyebluezombie Wed 17-Oct-12 15:04:38

I agree with above - most of my clients come from word of mouth and I spend very little on advertising.

Good work spreads good word :-)

I agree with Nickel, I have been promoting my storytelling business by posting a short story each morning on FB, so people can see my storytelling style (and get a bit hooked on my fabulous stories). Word has spread through this so well that I was in a cafe last week and overheard my business name in a conversation between two people I don't knowgrin.
I have budgeted for a year's grace before I see any profit, and used my "notice period" wages as seed money for upfront business costs.
HMRC are actually very helpful when you call them, they don't actually want to fine you.
Have a short spiel you can just reel off when people ask what your business does, you are your "shop front", and it's not professional to appear to have no idea what it is you do. If anyone's an expert on your business it should be you!

CheeryCherry, I set up my first business at the age of 14. I was selling band tshirts and cloth patches and little badges. Pre-internet.

I flogged them to all my schoolfriends and then got a stand in a local market doing it, ended up employing my mum to run it while I was at school.

It was a great adventure for cutting my teeth, learning about VAT/Tax/Profit Margins etc we walked away with a new kitchen for my mum and I had an envious wardrobe grin

I'd egg her on, you never know what she's capable of!

Thanks for posting that Wix link - I'm very interested in that for a new website. Squarespace are pretty good as well (and cheap) but not super dooper easy to use.

AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 18-Oct-12 11:55:04

Thanks for all your top tips. turnipvontrapp wins the £250 Amazon voucher. Well done.

totaldietfood Tue 13-Nov-12 07:36:55

Agree with a lot of the advice on here so far but there are a couple of things that I found really important and haven't spotted;

Goals - have goals and work towards them. When you get to one, stop, look back at where the business came from and where it has got to and pat yourself on the back. It is rewarding and easily forgotten in the hustle and bustle of everyday work life.

Be honest with yourself about what you are good at and what you are not. If you are terrible with the bookkeeping, get a company to do it. £150 per month for an expert to do it instead of wasting hour after hour trawling through it yourself is good value for money.

whizzykidd Tue 13-Nov-12 20:08:27

Great thread. Very interested in how to promote a new product. Marketing side in particular. How to contact your customers without spending a huge amount on advertising.

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