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Who wants to be an entrepreneur? Start here... (and those who are, help here please!?)

(410 Posts)
WilfSell Tue 21-Aug-12 17:15:35

OK, I was inspired by the 'earn 1k a month working from home' thread, which turned into an inspiring if terrifying 'don't sell yourself short' thread. And wondered if, those of us who might like to work for ourselves but don't currently, could get started here? I aim to keep my job, and perhaps try to move to part-time at some point. I have some business ideas, some good, some over-ambitious, mostly attempts to roll-out my current skills into a private consultancy, not necessarily linked to my existing job (university research/teaching).

I know it is an incredibly tricky time to think about this, and I'm sure it is not easy or comfortable to make a living... But some people manage it, so why shouldn't more of us?

MmeLindor Wed 22-Aug-12 13:45:22

Right, so it is already August and there is no way that I am going to make £77k in this year - except wait. VAT year is April to April, right?

Still unlikely.

Ok, so what happens if I get to March and then notice that I have indeed managed to earn over that sum? If I then register, I cannot go back and charge the customers that I have done work for in Dec VAT. So that comes out of my pocket. Is that right?

So I have to be very careful with my earnings. Or register now and include VAT, which I most likely won't need.

Tee2072 Wed 22-Aug-12 14:03:16

As MmeL knows, I already run a company that basically does she she is trying to do. I do it very part time as I have a young son but I am gearing up to market and ramp up as he is starting school very soon.

My main advice is:

1 Realize that you'll work harder than ever when you work for yourself
2 You will need childcare if you have a pre-school child
3 Don't trust anyone who calls themselves an expert on Social Media who doesn't have a Twitter account that is very very active. (Yes, I know someone like this. One of my clients nearly hired them until I pointed this fact out!)

LeChatRouge Wed 22-Aug-12 14:03:39

This is all very interesting and inspiring. I will try and come back and post later.

dontcallmehon Wed 22-Aug-12 14:39:51

Very interesting. I am a self employed tutor, hoping to set up a tutoring centre which specialises in English at first, though I will look to offer other subjects. I want to build it up so that eventually I have several centres operating in different areas. I also offer online services, like personalised study programmes for students who live abroad and again, this is something I want to expand on.

Although I know my stuff when it comes to tutoring, I feel hopelessly out of my depth when it comes to business, so this year I'm planning to work on my resources for the centre, devise a detailed business plan, do some market research and send myself on some courses. It is a long term plan, as I don't want to foolishly rush in without really knowing what I'm doing! Any advice/tips on here will be gratefully appreciated.

wannaBe Wed 22-Aug-12 14:54:27

ooh have just happened upon this thread.

After being a sahm for nine years and with there being limited opportunities for work anywhere it would seem, I am in the process of setting up my own business as a life coach.

I have done the training, just doing the hours now to gain my diploma, and in the meantime I have also done a group coaching course which I am going to use to start running workshops/seminars relating to confidence. And I am taking on individual clients too.

In terms of marketing/putting myself out there, I have a



audioboo account

and a twitter account @fidescoaching (fides is latin for confidence) if anyone would like to follow/read/listen....

What are these mn courses of which people speak.

MmeLindor Wed 22-Aug-12 15:16:07

This is the course that I will be holding next month. It is geared towards small businesses, and for women returning to work after maternity leave.

Basically, MN have an Academy where they host freelance trainers teaching anything from car maintenance to pizza making.

Advantage for me - exposure, link to the brand of MN, they do the ticketing etc

DolomitesDonkey Wed 22-Aug-12 15:22:24

For ticketing - go to smile

DolomitesDonkey Wed 22-Aug-12 15:22:51

DolomitesDonkey Wed 22-Aug-12 15:24:38

Eventbrite is an absolutely fab service - makes your event searchable by location and the ticketing even handles VAT for you (if you choose to do so) - you can add discount codes, e.g., MUMSNET10 and they handle cc payments for you.

WilfSell Wed 22-Aug-12 15:25:07

OK, as thread starter, can I impose a rule suggestion, that you're allowed to advertise yourself ONLY ONCE, in return for sharing your expertise and only as long as MNHQ ignores it before deleting you for breaking their talk guidelines? grin

kicks self for not already having up and running website for free networking/advertising

wannaBe Wed 22-Aug-12 15:31:59

eventbright is a good resource - they have an app too.
MmeL how did you get to run the course - who did you have to contact and where or did you just fill in a suggestion on the acadomy page? And did you create your own pricing etc? (sorry haven't clicked your link yet so haven't seen what prices you are charging if any).

BIWI Wed 22-Aug-12 15:40:47

I started out on the freelance/self-employed route almost 15 years ago now. When I'm home from holiday I'll post something longer about my experiences, but for now (can't bear the iPad keyboard!) these are the two best pieces of advice I was given when I started:

1). Always charge for your services properly We have a tendency to undervalue ourselves - see all the posts above! - if you don't believe you're worth it, then your clients won't either. Work out your rate - per day or hour or unit, or whatever, and then add on another £100 or 10% or something. If you can, find out what your competition is charging and match or sell yourself for more. I have learnt that clients value things much more if they pay more for it!

2) You will be the worst boss you have ever had. When you plan your business you also need to think very carefully about the practicalities of when you are going to work, how available you are going to make yourself. In the current world of social media and the internet, you will be amazed at how much clients expect to be able to contact you 'out of hours'. You may think that this is ok and that you should be available to them 24 hours a day, but this soon becomes tiresome and will really intrude on your personal and family life. And once a client thinks you can be available at any time, they will expect that for ever more. I had a client who was too busy during the day to take or return calls, so she used to ring me on my mobile at 8pm in the evening, because this suited her - in the end, I allocated a different ringtone for her, so I could ignore it when she rang. Thankfully she got the message after that!

Equally if you are on Facebook/Twitter, keep your personal separate from your business.

Plan in carefully for time off. And make sure you pay yourself a proper salary - if your business won't sustain a decent amount of money for you, then you need to question your business plan. In the first few weeks/months as you are building it up, you may not make that much, but you need to plan for your business to pay you well when it's becoming more established.

MmeLindor Wed 22-Aug-12 15:45:33

Good advice, BIWI.

Yes, Wilf (sorry, I ignored your comment earlier - am back in UK now). We should be mindful of not breaking any MN rules.

If anyone would like to add me on LinkedIn, PM me. I have sadly neglected setting an account up till now, as I didn't really need it before.

DolomitesDonkey Wed 22-Aug-12 15:55:02

Right, I'm in the process of setting up a fb group so we can discuss/promote/etc. without stepping on anyone's toes - e.g., we can get each other's details and then big each other up on Twitter. wink

It seems that to set up a group we need to be fb friends - oh that tiresome tool. Anyway, if you'd like in - please PM me and we'll figure it out. I've added IrishSea, so if you'd rather go through her please do.

wannaBe Wed 22-Aug-12 15:57:23

dd I think I've pm'd you but can't be 100% sure (oh technology...)

MediumOrchid Wed 22-Aug-12 15:59:25

I am about to go on maternity leave from a full time job, and am hoping to use all the free time I will have (ha ha) to try a get a jewellery making business going. I have been doing this for about a year now, working with my retired mother, and we have a little studio in her house. When we sell to people we know, like people at work or church, we sell loads, but when we have sold at craft fairs we haven't been that successful, sometimes only just covering the costs of the stall.

I have made a website but so far no-one has bought from it - however I know that this is just because we haven't done any marketing for it! I have a facebook page and twitter account, but just haven't got around to using them or telling friends about them.

It's really hard to find the time to pursue the business when working full time in another job (and even harder to find the energy to when pregnant). My dream is to really build the business up while I'm on maternity leave so that I either don't have to go back or can afford to go back part time. I think it's probably unrealistic, but others seem to have managed to do it! This thread and the other one have been really inspiring though, I will keep reading for inspiration and encouragement!

nickelcognito Wed 22-Aug-12 16:06:19

God, talk about being your own worst boss!

You will refuse to give yourself holidays, except the days between christmas and new year.
your busiest times will be when your kids are on school holiday, so you won't be able to take them anywhere because you're working.
you'll end up paying yourself a pittance (if at all in the first couple of years) because you need all the money for your business.

If you have premises open to the public, you'll find that your whole life revolves around them, and you'll find it incredibly hard to accept when you should be open.
although, currently, I open at 10, and I'm tempted to start earlier because the new people next door have stupid fake plastic trees that they are putting outside their shop right where my A-board sign is supposed to go.
that means I can't put my sign anywhere visible, and their stupid fake plastic trees aren't even advertising their shop! they're just fake plastic trees!!
(bloody bins are in the way of the view of the pavement as you look down towards my shop)

nickelcognito Wed 22-Aug-12 16:06:47

i also made a website that no one ever looks at or buys from.
apart from sometimes when I beg them to wink

wannaBe Wed 22-Aug-12 16:07:09

My sister had a jewellery making business and she had the same experiences re craft fairs and eventually she just stopped doing them.

Ime often people go to those kinds of events just for a day out rather than with the actual idea of spending money iyswim. Have you tried doing home parties? My sister did one and was very successful - try to get a friend to host one for you maybe?

MmeLindor Wed 22-Aug-12 16:12:24

I agree, Wannabe with the craft fairs - my brother did one and it was pretty useless.

The women I know who have done well in selling jewellery have set up simple websites, and use etsy or similar to sell. Really good photos are a must, imo.

I will go and check out the FB group.

Am happy to give help/ideas about Twitter etc

I have done loads of stuff this year that has not earned me a penny, but is bringing great contacts. I was in Kenya blogging earlier this year, with the Gates Foundation and will be working for the TEDx team in Glasgow later in the year. All voluntary, but good contacts and interesting stuff.

Empusa Wed 22-Aug-12 16:13:08

That's interesting about craft fairs, was thinking of doing one with a friend. Maybe I'll rethink that.

MmeLindor Wed 22-Aug-12 16:15:01

it might be that some are better than others, I am not sure.

Thanks, Wilf, for starting this thread. You have inspired me to get a website set up that I will use as an example when I go around touting for business.

nickelcognito Wed 22-Aug-12 16:15:20

yes, that's true - my sister makes stuff (sewing) and they're really good, but she's found that craft fairs just aren't worth the while.
You think about everything that you have to make just to have enough to fill a stall, and then you pay for the stall itself.
you're lucky to break even on the stuff you sell, never mind the stuff that's left behind afterwards.

(as a completely fictional example)
you make 50 items with a retail value of £10 each.
it costs you (in materials alone, not including labour) around £5 to make each one.
the craft stall costs £10 for the day
it costs you £10 at least to get the stuff there, even close by and in your own car. (factoring in car costs)
you're there for 5 hours and you might sell 10 things.
that's £50 you've taken.
but! you've spent out (5 x 50 + 10 + 10 = ) £270.
so you've made a loss of £220.

Even if you do another craft fair next week, and don't make anything for it, you've still got to apy out the £10+£10 for being there, and you might sell another 10 things.
so now you're
£220 + £10 +£10 = £240 down before you've sold anything.
sell 10 things = £50.
so now you're at a £190 loss.

there's not a lot you can buy at craft fairs that are fewer than £10, and those that are probably aren't worth selling, iyswim.

wannaBe Wed 22-Aug-12 16:20:00

agree free exposure is a good thing.

My blog and audio won't bring me money, but i know that especially my audio has had an impact, and that if I'm going to run workshops/seminars etc and even to talk to individual clients the way I talk will be something that people will bear in midn and which might ultimately draw me to them. Indeed I have been approached by someone who has purely picked up on my tweets/audio posts who now wants me to run some seminars for the college he works for.

I need to get a website but my knowledge of web development is limited at best.

nickelcognito Wed 22-Aug-12 16:30:17

free exposure is so hard to judge though.

i have articles constantly in my local paper and it's not brought anyone extra in (that i can tell).
all i get is "funny" comments from people i know about being "in the paper again"

paid for exposure:
i've got my website, which is googlable
thomson directory listing
yellow pages book and website listing
occasional adverts
2 loyalty schemes (soon to be 3)

free stuff:
facebook page
blogspot (for this week eleanor loves...)
newspaper stuff
i've just registered on Pinterest too.
youtube account (only one vid so far)

and i list on ebay sometimes and also that site that is killing independents (the irony)
i also have an account with a wholesaler that does, for indies, where we get a commission (very small though) for any online sales through them.

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