6 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting My Own Business

PressMum writer Kerry Cabbin is also the Managing Director and founder of her own company, she shares her advice about setting up your own business.

‘I always had dreams of working for myself and running my own business but for many many years, that’s all they were. I am a council estate kid and where I grew up and in my family people didn’t grow up to become CEO or directors of their own companies.

‘Things changed in 2011 when I decided to quit my job and to become a freelancer. It was scary but within three months I had managed to secure some great contracts of work and In 2015, I set up as a limited company.’

LOGO AND BRANDING

Choosing a name for your business is for some the easy part and for others the worst. The business I run now initially began as ‘creAteam’ I loved it at the time and understood what it represented but I think I was the only person who did. I would often have to correct people who didn’t pronounce it right.

As the business grew, I realised the name no longer suited my goals. It only focused on one aspect of the services we provided and didn’t really show the direction I wanted the business to grow. And so, I changed the name. Luckily for me, this was a good move as at the time I wanted to take the business in a new direction. With the new name, we also had a new logo designed and this was changed again this year as styles have changed and I was concerned that we were starting to look dated.

Make sure you check that your business name ideas are available on social media too. And that other businesses with similar names are not too much like yours.

You can check a list of registered business names on Companies’ house web check as well as doing a domain name search.

BUSINESS STRUCTURE

When you first set up a business it might be easier to begin as a sole trader – trading as ‘your business name’ this way you register yourself as self-employed and have to complete a self-assessment with HMRC, You will need to keep on top of your income and expenditure and fill in a tax return each year and the paperwork more or less ends there, but if you’re going to be a charity, community interest company or limited business there are other forms which you will have to fill in.

To become a limited company, you will need to register at Companies House as a private limited company. If you chose this there will be more administration. But it is not as scary as it sounds! Accounting for this structure becomes a little more tricky but online accounting packages can help.

You can find more information here https://www.gov.uk/set-up-business

MONEY IN THE BANK

One of the things that I will never get used to since working for myself is the fact that I no longer get paid on the same day of the month, with the same amount and I always knew it would be there!

This is the biggest ball ache! Once I started working for myself I realised that the process tended to go, you agree to the work, you work, you invoice for the work, you don’t get paid, you chase up the payment, they tell you 30 days, you wait 30 days (again) and you sometimes get paid and sometimes you don’t.

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It’s an ongoing battle for many people working for themselves and can be even more difficult if you have taken on staff and are having to pay them out of your own pocket too.

If I knew this back then, I would have saved up a good few months worth of income before starting.

It can be tough, but once you get going, and start to work with regular customers or clients it gets better.

Learn about chasing payments and your legal rights, set up service level agreements with clients before the work starts which clearly states your payment terms and stipulates any penalties you will apply for late payment.

HOME OFFICE

Working from home can be one of the biggest luxuries when you work for yourself, but it is only beneficial if you are incredibly motivated.

It helps to get yourself into a routine, I still get up and get ready for work. This helps me get in the zone, I don’t function the same if I am in my PJs and still unwashed at lunchtime, and sitting in front of the TV whilst I work and catch up on loose women doesn’t help me either.

If it’s possible, create yourself a workspace in the home. I had this is the old house we lived in and it worked great. I’m now on the dining table! But making it work.

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Another nightmare can be people thinking you are not working, or that is doesn’t really matter if you don’t work because you’re the boss and so you are not going to chastise yourself, and so with this in their mind, they think it’s totally OK to just turn up for tea and biscuits.

The truth of the matter is, it is really nice…. but when they have left and are getting on with their day and in bed for 9pm, you are likely to be at home catching up with the work you missed.

SLEEP

Honestly, I thought having kids wreaked havoc on your sleep, but hand on my heart I think having a business is worse.

My children were 13 and 3 when I started working for myself,  and by then we had bedtime routines and sleep pretty much sussed.

Before working for myself I remember the good old days when my workday ended and I switched off. I was finished for the day and that was that. I went home, had my tea and my mind was never thinking about work. I went to bed at night and read! Full books…not just tweets or status updates. I was relaxed and focused on being at home.

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Since running my own business, this is a luxury that changed and sleep has definitely been affected. In the beginning, I would not be able to sleep because of ideas, and creativity, dreaming of what I wanted it to be and how I would make it happen. Then they were sleepless nights about unpaid invoices and having to chase people and businesses which owed me money. Then there is the self-doubt…you pitch an idea, you get a sale or booking from it and your ready to deliver and then the angst hits you, what if this is not what they wanted, what if you think its good but they don’t….when you are a new business, passionate about your work and committed nights like this are to be expected. But it does get better.

HIGH AND LOWS

Be prepared for the highs and lows, they are ongoing. I have been working for myself now for over seven years and I have learnt to enjoy the highs when they happen and prepare for the lows when they hit. Times are constantly changing and sometimes things happen and it bites you in the ass.

That great contract you had gets cut short, or the commission you were so sure about doesn’t happen. Accept it, learn from it, reflect upon it, but don’t dwell on it, as the beautiful Aaliyah sang  ‘If at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off, and try again.’

And If you are having a good spell, celebrate your work achievements. Treat yourself to that holiday you deserve. Or take a day off and have some fun.

PressMum – Business Motherhood and Other Stuff

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