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Taking the Plunge

Some people enjoy being employed, and there are many reasons behind it - from the regular wages, to the perks and benefits. But then there are others who enjoy the freedom and challenge of being self employed.

For those looking to be their own boss and start their own business, it can seem daunting at first. What if there's no work to bring in money? What about bills? How should I deal with issues? How do I manage my time effectively? These are all important questions, which unfortunately no one can really give you a definitive answer to. A lot comes from experience and good planning. So, how do you plan well?

Planning Your Time

Planning time can be tricky, especially if it's all new to you. How long does it take to build a website? How long would it take me to deliver goods from A to B? How long would it take me to cut this person's hair? The questions and answers vary depending on your industry, your experience, and your knowledge. You may even find that the first few months will be very much guessing and hoping for the best until you learn how these things work out.

It can be even more tricky if you're not working in your business on a full time basis. This would mean your time in the business is even more precious and needs to be used wisely.

Think back to your school days, and you probably had a timetable for your lessons. This was a good way to manage your time between different 'tasks' (each task being a lesson in the schools case). You should try and replicate this set up for your own time. Plan what you need to do during the early stages of your business, and devise a realistic timetable with details on what needs to be done, and how long you should spend on it.

Spreadsheet software, or a calendar could help you with this, and could help you make it as detailed as possible. Then comes the tricky part - stick to it. But also remember to plan time off, and balance it with your personal life too.

Be Open and Honest

If you're currently in employment, discuss your situation with your employer and see how you can work the business around your job. It will not only help you manage your time easier, it may also help ease the situation (e.g. no conflict between the business and your job). You may even find that your business could help your employer and they may even send work your way.

You may find that your employer would be behind you 100% and may even recommend your business to people they know.

Research, Research, Research

Before taking the plunge you should research your idea and your potential market. Ensure to research:

  • The market: Chances are, you already have a good idea on where your business should be going, and how it should operate. But you need to be sure that you have a market that demands your products or services. Without a customer base, you don't have a business, so this is a key point. There's a useful guide on market research here.
  • Business Names: You need a strong business name. It's what will define your business, so you will need to chose something that not only stands out and is memorable, but also doesn't open any doors to confusion. Does your business name sound similar to another business? It would be a bad idea to call your business "Tesco Technology" for example. Not only does this sound confusing with the supermarket chain, but it may also lead to legal demands from them too. There's a useful guide on business names on The Law Donut's web site
  • Competitors: To win customers, you need to prove that you are the right choice for them. Why are you better than the competition, and why should they choose you over them? Make sure you know your competition and what they offer. See how you can improve the services they offer to give yourself a competitive advantage. Could they offer better customer service? Do they sell the wrong products? Are they too expensive?

Automate Simple Tasks

Using simple software such as a CRM System (Customer Relationship Management System), or accounting software, can help you automate collection of funds, or email marketing. Even social media can be automated.

By automating these simple tasks, you free up more time for yourself and the business, and help put your mind on more important tasks that need your attention.

Review

When you thought about starting a business and going self employed, you looked at a number of different things to make the plans that you have in place. Don't be afraid to revisit these plans after a few weeks or months - there's nothing wrong with making small changes. Things may not go as well as you thought, so it's good to rethink some things and set out a new plan to keep things going.

Where now?

If you think you're ready to take the leap from employee to self employed, then it's simple to start up. But remember to research and plan.

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