If you’ve stumbled across me here on my blog then I hope you’ve come here as either a potential customer or a curious business person, whatever reason you are here I am happy to see you, getting new clients and connecting with other business people is not my only purpose with this blog, business and website though.
I don’t know about you but I think it’s about time we demystified the process of starting your own business. With that in mind among the many hints, tips, ideas and useful information I will share with you on VA work, my experience in senior management and my 22 years in business administration and customer service, I will also be sharing what lessons I have learned along the way in setting up and flying solo.
My experience of this process has definitely been ‘easier’ than I anticipated. The toughest element has surprised me. The hardest thing by far has been maintaining my own sense of continued dogged determination. It’s necessary as you start out because mostly, you will be the only one doing everything. The want of it is not hard at all but the doing when you’re exhausted and haven’t become an overnight millionaire can weigh a little heavily from time to time. If you’re at that stage, don’t give up.
The good news is that it is easier than ever to start a business or side hustle as the cool kids call it. There is a wealth of information and google was most definitely my friend as it will no doubt be yours.
I did the ‘unthinkable’ I quit my good, steady job without another to go to, without even confirmation that I had my first client, without even really knowing for sure that I was going to set up a business. All I knew was that something needed to change in my life and that the sooner I made the leap the better.
My perspective? I could and would always find a way to make life work and pay the bills but I no longer had the heart to do what I was doing anymore. The reasons were a healthy mix of personal and professional but I am not one to sit on my laurels when I feel the timing is right (unless it comes to household chores, then I will debate the necessity of them until I just have to get it done)
My skillset is online/pc/administrative/customer service so I’ll be honest, my outlay was minimal and that was incredibly fortunate. I was already paying for the internet and already had a pc/laptop and figured I would just go for it.
People said I was either brave or crazy. I was felt like that was a compliment and felt like a badass but as the months have gone on I realised that my opinion of it is different. I think staying in a job that eats away at your values and family life is the crazy thing and that relying on other people to build business that will pay your salary when there’s no guarantee of success and that could ultimately replace you in a heartbeat is brave. Trusting the future of yourself and your family to other people is pretty bum clenchingly brave if you ask me.
At least this way I have the inside knowledge and ability to evolve with the need as it arises. I don’t consider myself brave or crazy just proactive and permanently curious. Whatever your choice, as long as it suits you and yours and is what you want, then it’s the right one. Personally, the flexibility, autonomy, variety and hours I wanted were not on offer anywhere so I decided it was time to stop lining other peoples pockets and to be the captain of my own ship. Four months later I’m not sorry (but would be totally ok to become an overnight millionaire too #justsaying)
The key to making progress for me with no capital to start up and having never owned my own business before, was to put myself in the company of people who had and to seek their advice. Where to start with that though? Well, I contacted my local job centre plus and I’m pleased to say that they have been incredibly supportive. They have offered me advice, guidance and I have a dedicated self-employment advisor who I see quarterly.
Through them and also through googling till my fingers bled (my inner monologue is somewhat over dramatic) I found that there is a local business enterprise called Menta that specialise in this very field. I got in touch and signed up for 12 hours of free mentoring workshops that are designed to help you from the idea of starting up and during the first year of business. Menta currently only support business in Suffolk and Norfolk however, there are similar enterprises all over the country and if they’re anything like Menta they are worth their weight in gold.
The 3 workshops I did incorporated how to start right, marketing and basic book keeping over three days (there were a variety of dates and locations available across Suffolk, I did mine over 4 weeks in my home town of Bury St Edmunds) If you completed all three you also got one of their paid masterclass workshops for free. I’m doing mine in September. In addition they hold a monthly networking event. Bonus!
The workshops were filled with new business owners, side hustlers and people who were trying to figure out how to get to that stage. It was such a breath of fresh air to learn skills and get advice from people who have long standing business success in their own right and I always left with a new found momentum to kick butt in my own business.
I won’t lie, there is a lot to do when you set up and start out but my first piece of advice would always be to see what local resources there are that allow you to spend time with like-minded people, learning some of the skills and techniques that you will need.
If you know of free local resources or networking events in your area then pop them in the comments – it would be great to share these fabulous resources.
As always, by liking, sharing and commenting on this post you are supporting small business and I thank you for your kindness.
Thank you for reading,