Starting a business? Start here!
Being self-employed can give you all the flexibility you want and be an exciting time, it can also be daunting if you’re a first timer, and it can be stressful if you get things wrong. So we’ve got a ton of information to help guide you in the right direction…
Your business idea
What exactly is your product or service going to be? What are you going to do? How and where are you going to do it? How will it make money?
When starting any new business venture you need to consider if you’re plugging a need that exists, filling a gap in the market, inventing something new, diversifying from what’s already there and making it better, buying into a franchise for a business with a proven model and trusted branding, doing something freelance which you once did as an employee, or turning a hobby into a professional business.
No one of these is ‘better’ or more valid than another, people have made big successes with all of them. They all have advantages and disadvantages. Which you opt for will entirely depend on you, your personality, and your experience.
Business opportunity profiles
If there’s one thing we recommend you spend a couple of pounds on, it’s this. UK company Cobweb Information, produce practical business guides and factsheets on hundreds of business ideas and sectors.
The Business Opportunity Profiles (BOPs) typically detail the skills required, the training available, the current market trends and key trading issues. They also explain the legislation that must be complied with and provide sources of further information and details of membership organisations for that sector.
Many Council library services have Cobweb COBRA subscriptions, which allow you to get BOPs, sector reports and other Cobweb business guides free of charge. Or you can search for, and buy them online in Cobweb’s business information store – they are definitely worth it!
Generally, the only insurance which is required by law is Employers Liability insurance (if you’re employing people). However, there are other types of business insurance you may want to consider, and some may be a compulsory requirement for membership to a professional organisation, or to work from a certain place, or for the equipment that you use.
The Cobweb BOP for your sector will provide some guidance on what insurance(s) you might need or want to consider for your specific industry. But so you know what’s what, we’ve broken down the most common types of insurance you might need when self-employed.
Licences and permits
Depending on what your business is there may be a legal requirement to hold some sort of a licence or permit for what you are doing. This could apply to a range of activities from taxi driving to serving alcohol.
Again, the Cobweb BOP should give you a good indication of whether there are any specific licences needed for your industry. Or you could start off by talking to your local council (the one who you pay council tax to, and who usually arrange your rubbish collection), they should have an economic development department who can help advise and signpost you.
Alternatively, chat to others who are already running the same type of business as you. Most competitors are happy to give you advice. Business these days (especially so with female-run business) is more about collaboration than competition, so don’t be worried about approaching other people in your industry. Those who are doing well will happily help others.