Business Planning and enjoying life to the fullest

This is a blog in two halves, the first half is about my experiences so far in business planning pre-start up and the second half is more about how I am making the most of my ‘spare’ time (what little there is for a budding entrepreneur!)

So even before the news that I was being made redundant I had started to look into starting my own business. I have been suitably impressed by the amount of free advice, support and guidance that is available that I find myself wondering why it is so few new businesses appear to have made use of this help? (answers on the back of a postcard please…).

Instead from what I have seen (and what may contribute to the high failure rate of new businesses) far too many people rush blindly in with little or no knowledge, experience and without asking/looking/taking up offers of help that is so readily accessible to all. There a many prime examples of free help including Business Link, HMRC workshops, and the ‘route to self-employment’ support available through your local Job Centre if you happen to be unemployed/claiming benefits.

I have already attended numerous Business Link events and workshops, spent hours reading the helpful guides they produce both online and in print (delivered free to your home), attended free HMRC workshops in becoming self-employed, completing your self-assessment tax return and more. In addition to this I am also doing proper research into the market place (again no costs involved) trawling the internet to find out about competitors, what I can do to make myself a better option than them and just generally scoping out the scale of what is out there for people who would be looking for the kind of service I will be providing.

Alan Lakein said:

β€œFailing to plan is planning to fail.”

and I would wholeheartedly agree with that! After all how can you expect to be successful (unless you are just lucky!) if you don’t put the work in??

As part of my planning process I have been taking on additional training in all things that may impact on the development and success of my future business; from the specific core skills for the service I will be providing, health and safety, employment law, equality and diversity, time-management and obviously Business Studies! Some of the more specific training clearly comes at a cost, but I see that as an investment – that will hopefully pay dividends once the business starts bringing in money, but so much of it is FREE and you don’t have to look hard to find it, a simple web-search is all it takes!

The one that took me by surprise (although it should have be obvious really!) was when I went to my local Job Centre (to make my claim for benefits to keep me above water whilst being self-employed is bringing in Β£0!). When I told them all the training I was doing and why, they informed me they can put me on their ‘Route to self-employment’ scheme which will give me tons more free advice, support and training and also help me to access funding that may be vital to get things off the ground. Who in their right mind would turn down such an opportunity!!??

Another thing I have done is an audit of myself and my plans, this includes things such as a SWOT analysis and GYR status assessment (link shows an example of a GYR status document) of the stages I need to work through before I will be ready to ‘go live’ so to speak. How many of you have ever done a SWOT analysis on yourself – let alone your business!!?? I also attend networking events (but not too many because that would be an unproductive use of my time (more time networking = less time actually working!), it’s about getting the balance right, enough to be of benefit without spending so much time on it that more important things are neglected! and the same would apply to the use of social networking sites (I get updates direct to my phone from these so I can see at a glance if it is something I need/want to respond to quickly or something that can wait, and obviously if I am mega busy then I don’t even look till I have the time!)

And so what happens when I finally get this off the ground, what help and support is available then? well most of the things already mentioned continue to have benefits once you are running your business, and then new lines of support also come into range. Now these do tend to be more likely to have costs involved but the cost is not so high that going without would be a better option. For example the FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) provide all manner of help and support from Legal Services, Financial Services, and much more at affordable rates (variable depending on the size of your business) and their strap-line says exactly how I feel about what they provide ‘can you afford NOT to join?’. I for one will definitely be joining up as soon as i start my business properly!!

Anyway that’s enough of from me, you are all perfectly capable of doing a little web-search to see for yourself the wealth of free help on offer to new-starters… and if you’re not then you should really re-think your options here!! I’m no expert, I’m new to this myself – but I know a good thing when I see it!

Dang, I’ve gone on rather more than I expected to there! For all those (non-business types mainly I guess) looking out for the second half of my blog here it is (finally! I hear you scream…) sorry for the delay πŸ˜‰

So, as you can probably guess by my ramblings about business planning it is consuming most of my waking hours at the current time. For me that is all part of enjoying life to its fullest – sitting back taking a free ride has never been my style, and never will! But even I need to do fun stuff at times too… although even then fun stuff seems to end up being constructive and useful with me as well! oops! (well except the wild nights out on the town drinking heavily and dancing till dawn! lol πŸ™‚ )

My latest new venture on the ‘fun’ ‘enjoying life to its fullest’ front is my having joined a drama class. Creative Drama for Adults (over 18’s only) with Birmingham City University at Millenium Point (see even in this I couldn’t completely break free from need for academia! arrgh – next I will be getting some kind of drama qualification :S). Partially inspired by watching Glee but more-so something I have had bookmarked in my firefox favourites for around 2 years without having done anything about it! When i went along for my first class on Tuesday evening I was extremely nervous, believe it or not I am not actually all that confident (until I am comfortable in an environment) and considering just scrapping the idea and coming straight back home! but I stayed and whilst at first I felt really lost and had no idea how to portray myself as an animal – demonstrating characteristics without sound, such as ‘timid as a mouse’ or ‘bullish’ – I settled in a bit better when we had to start expressing ourselves as ‘colours’, so much so in fact that when we were put into groups I managed to secure the lead role in our first scenario! As a group we had to present ‘Red’, so we worked the scenario around a Doctor’s surgery, where the doctor had not arrived to see his patients in the morning. We had a patient burning up with a fever (red-hot), and his anxious companion (red – for caution), the young couple (red for passion, when he starts flirting with the receptionist and red for anger, her response to his behavior), then there was the fiery upon arrival (red for danger and impatience) patient who begins verbally attacking the poor (red for embarrassed) receptionist who has to try to keep the peace while waiting for the doctor to arrive. I’ll leave it up to you to guess which one of those was my role, though I’m sure its fairly obvious! lol πŸ™‚ After wards the other groups commented on how in the flittish, flapping behaviour of the receptionist she was also representing the red heat of a fire with the patients gathering round appearing like a group of people huddling round the fire for its warmth. So the rest of the evening went much better after that as I had now settled in a bit, while I still don’t know hardly anyone’s names (there are about 30 of us in the class!) I think I will be able to get into it much easier next week now (hopefully!). And for homework – chose an item of clothing/accessory to bring in for someone else to wear/use to become a character… and no the Ann Summers lingerie is not a good choice!! I was thinking do I make it easy for them and take my Princess Leia dress, or do I chose something more basic such as my sparkly cowgirl hat, or… well you get the idea, I don’t know what I’m going to take yet!

I have also applied yet again for the X-factor, having been granted audition time for the last two years and for various reasons not having been able to go to my audition 😦 This year I intend to go come hell or high water!! The only thing now is to chose what to sing, I have plenty of good ‘older’ tracks to chose from that I sing really well, but I think it would be important to have prepared something more ‘now’ as well, just in case they ask for it!! So if any one has any suggestions I would be grateful for them πŸ™‚

Right, there is probably so much more I could say about living life to the fullest such as all my plans to spend time with my family, friends and loved-ones, holidays, etc etc but I have already written enough for an OU Level 2 Essay and doubt very much that many people will have read right to the end of this (probably bored to tears after the first 500 words!) if you have read it all please let me know!! I am also starting to get a bit of a headache from staring at my computer screen for so long. So I will close for now, no doubt I will be back to bore you with more tales of my shenanigans soon off – until then have fun and be good (I would say don’t do anything I wouldn’t do, but that wouldn’t rule out much, hehe!) ;P