Striking out on your own can be a tricky business, especially if you have never been in that kind of position before.

Sure, we have all dreamed of being our boss and controlling our own time; however, making the transition from employee to managing your accounts, office space, taxes, etc. can be a daunting feat.

So what can you do? How can you take these aspirations and make them a real and profitable reality?

The trick is to plan and research your journey, so you know exactly what to expect before you embark.

Step One: Ask yourself – do you want this?

The truth is, if you aren’t 100% certain that you want to run, own and manage your own business, then your chances of succeeding will be slim. Not because you aren’t good at what you do but because if you don’t want it enough – i.e. with all of your heart – every time you encounter an obstacle you will want to quit and give up.

And that is no way to run a business…

Because of this, before you take any further steps toward starting your own business, you’ve got to be completely honest with yourself. Do you really want it? And what are you willing to do to get yourself there?

Step Two: Create an action plan.

This plan is not only vital for helping you to stay organised and plan your future; all of your research will be beneficial when applying for a loan.

Likewise, all plans you make will help you to determine when is the right time to branch out and stop with your current employment.

To create a good action plan you need to ask:

What exactly do you want to do? What is your business/product offering?

Maybe your goal is to turn a hobby into a career. Alternatively, maybe you want to branch out on your own and work for yourself (after working for someone else for years). No matter what inspired you to become your own boss, you first need to decide what you want to offer and sell. Is your goal to sell a particular product that you have made, or do you plan to offer a particular set of skills to your clients i.e. photography, beauty therapy, hair styling, etc.? Once you know what you want to do, you can start compiling lists of what you need e.g. supplies, work space, transportation, funding, etc.

Step Three: Do you have the training?

Even if you are already a fully trained beautician or hairdresser, running your own business will require a whole different set of skills from what you already have. For instance, no longer will someone else supply you with a workspace, materials, regular pay, and an organised timetable. Instead, you will suddenly be expected to manage your own time and books, pay employees every month, and calculate your taxes and employee contributions (including income tax and corporation tax) – even more so, if you can’t afford to pay for an accountant just yet.

This means that, unless you have already got experience in these areas, then handling them on your own will prove quite stressful.

Luckily, you can easily offer your business the support and preparation it needs by undertaking a range of online courses. From learning how to manage a business, to discovering what you need to organise your accounts, by choosing to learn online you can experience the flexibility of being able to learn at your own pace, whilst having the freedom to fit your studies around your current commitments, including your job.

And this is great news if you aren’t ready yet to quit your day job just yet. Instead, you can mould your studies around your job and maintain a healthy work/study/life balance.

But what qualifications should you get?

And this is the big question. Do you do them all, or do you learn enough to get yourself started before allowing someone else to look after them for you?

To help give you some perspective, below we have listed a variety of popular online courses that you can explore…

  • Bookkeeping:
  • Online Level 3 Bookkeeping course
  • ICB Bookkeeping Complete and Starting your own Business course
  • Accounting:
  • A Level Accounting course
  • Business and Management:
  • Online Management course
  • Business Start-up Diploma level 3
  • Business Administration Diploma Level 3
  • Business Operations and Lean Management course
  • Introduction to Business Marketing
  • Business Management Level 3

And these are just the tip of the iceberg…

If you are looking for something more specific, you can find dedicated courses which have been tailored to support particular careers e.g. event management and beauty salons.

Step Four: Expand your current skill set.

If you want to start a business from a hobby that you love, you may want to boost your CV by registering for some dedicated courses. For example, if you are an amateur photographer then you may want to first shadow another photographer, before applying for an apprenticeship or completing a series of online photography courses.

This additional training and experience will instantly make you more appealing to prospective clients when they research your credentials.

Tip: Suggested plan of action

– If you aren’t already working in your chosen field, we suggest that you volunteer or ask to shadow someone in the business. By asking to watch them work, you will gain a clearer picture of what to expect when you work for yourself.

– Training and courses: from enrolling at a local college to applying for a distance learning course; these extra qualifications will make you look more professional than relying on your products or your portfolio alone to get you noticed.

Step Five: Examine your finances.

Cash flow will be an issue for several reasons. Not only will you need money to complete any courses you choose to do. You will also need money for buying work materials; renting a building or an office/study space; purchasing furniture and equipment e.g. computers, telephones, technical equipment, décor, tables, chairs, etc.; paying building utilities (gas and electricity); producing marketing/promotional materials/advertising (leaflets, portfolios, online marketing or a website) and employing employees (remember: there is only so much you can do and achieve on your own before you risk exhausting yourself or limiting what you can offer).

As such, you will need to sit down and calculate all of your start-up fees, as well as all of your additional costs over the first year. By planning for every scenario and cost – wanted or unexpected – you can determine how much you will exactly need to stay profitable.

Now, unless you are lucky enough to already have the funding or someone to talk to who can offer you advice, you may want to consider visiting a bank/accountant. During this business meeting, they can show you what is available in terms of funding, interest rates, etc. as well as provide you with detailed advice on the exact amount you’ll need to get started.

Step Six: What other support can you get?

Whilst doing your research and creating your plan is a great way to begin; you should never dismiss the opportunity to get additional advice from reputable sources.

Take the following sources for advice:

  1. If you visit gov.uk, you will find that they provide a whole host of useful links that can help you to get started. From guiding you to local support networks to showing you how to research and develop a business plan, to outlining how to secure funding and ‘stay in the black’; their site can set you on the right path to achieving your goals. In addition, gov.uk have also got a free search tool that lists grants, loans, and other sources of financial support that you can access. And this particular tool could prove incredibly useful if your local bank is unwilling to help. Instead, of feeling that you have got no other options available, you can use this site to scope out alternative routes and use it to attain the funding you need.
  2. The HMRC also offers many free e-learning courses that can help you to understand the formalities of running a business. Again, this can provide you with a strong foundation of knowledge that helps you to get one step closer to making your dreams a real and credible reality.

Step Seven: Don’t forget to register your business.

Once you have got your business up and running, you will need to register yourself as self-employed with the HMRC. Through their self-assessment services/forms, you can begin to manage your taxes and national insurance contributions.

The most important thing you need to remember is that once you earn beyond your annual personal allowance, you will need to pay at least 20% tax on your earnings, as well as make yearly national insurance contributions.

As such, you must put aside some of your profits every time you make a sale/complete a job so you can use this money to pay these taxes. In turn, if you intend to employ others, you need to make sure you have got enough money to pay them on time.

TIP: it is recommended that you put aside a minimum of 20% every time you make a sale.

Conclusion

No matter your long-term aspirations, it is possible to achieve your dreams. It is just a matter of being prepared and making sure you plan ahead.

So if you are interested in starting your own business, then why not consider enrolling in an online course? From showing you how to manage a business and do your books, to broadening your current skillset; this additional knowledge could make the difference between you dreaming big and making it happen.

For more information on online courses, visit our website.

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