Don’t run before you can walk…..

At the start of my Phoenix business venture I learned of an organisation that was set up to assist new businesses, to give guidance, business support and, where applicable, start-up grants or loans to fledgling businesses.

Never much a believer in something for nothing, I was sceptical about how useful it would be for me to make contact. I felt confident that I wanted to work for myself, I was enthusiastic about my product, and I had the emotional backing of my friends and family to get it off the ground. I mentioned the organisation, in passing, to a friend who said she had received some support and to give them a call. I thought I’d look into it, and see for myself what it was all about.

I found I would be eligible to apply for a small business start-up grant. I considered this would be a great way to help to pay for advertising my new venture, and to buy the non-profit items, such as business cards. I raced off and registered as self-employed, filled in all the forms and awaited news of my grant…..

Little did I know, I had inadvertently precluded myself from receiving a grant by registering as self-employed! Part of the remit for the grant was that the organisation would be able to either remove the new business applicant from receipt of State benefits, or to register the applicant as self-employed. Since I had not received benefits, and I had already registered myself as self-employed I had no boxes left to tick! I’ve never been very good at waiting for things to come to me, so it had been a natural action to register myself to start my business. It seemed harsh that this preparation rendered me ineligible for the grant.

I spoke to a really helpful Business Advisor who assured me that there were other areas where I could receive guidance. One offer was for free courses on Small Business Management, Accounts and Tax Returns and Interent Marketing for your business. All a steep learning curve, I reluctantly signed up and anticipated looking glassy-eyed at a knowledgeable business person. I learned quickly to keep an open mind about the topics. Some were techno-jargon to me in the beginning (SEO?! Never heard of it!), and some told me what I already knew. I have to say though, my general experience was very positive, and I was extremely grateful for some free advice to get me started. Unfortunately the courses I completed are not currently available, but it is worth contacting your local business advice service to see if there is anything similar near you.

I think that groundwork has helped me to be more thoughtful in my approach to my business. I have learned I have a tendency to rush into things I am excited about (which, with Phoenix is most things!) and I have been able to take a step back before rushing business decisions. It was hard to learn to slow down when my natural tendency is to tackle things head-on…..some call that stubborn, you know! 😉

I have also learned that I can do more than I ever imagined. I have set up my own website name (with welcome help from my friend!), started this blog, attended networking events with complete strangers, and made new friends for the first time since I was an employee! A year in and I have my own business, with a growing Team of Traders, and I enjoy ‘going to work’. For that alone, it was worth learning to take small steps again.

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