Becoming self employed is an option if you are an entrepreneur, have a great business idea, are struggling to get a job elsewhere - or just want to work for yourself.
There are many reasons why you might wish to set up your own business. One of the primary factors could be that you want to have more control over the way you work, your working environment and your hours. Other reasons could be that you have identified a particular gap in the market or you may wish to supplement your existing income.
Setting up and running your own business can be a very exciting prospect, but it is also time-consuming and challenging. Before you decide to set up your own business, you will need to carefully consider whether becoming self-employed will suit your personality and abilities, as well as fit in with your lifestyle.
If you think you may need help with becoming self-employed, there is a list of many useful organisations and much more information about self-employment, in our factsheet:
Some of the characteristics associated with small business owners are listed below to help you identify your own abilities and training needs:
Self-motivated, self-disciplined and hard working.
Committed to achieving results.
Able to communicate effectively - including the ability to sell products and services.
Responsible, able to take calculated risks and cope with failure.
Creative, innovative and imaginative in coming up with new ideas.
Developing your business ideas
Whatever the reasons behind setting up your own business, there are some common steps that need to be taken. It is vital that you conduct an assessment and carry out research to judge how viable your idea is. Consider the following areas:
Conduct market research to discover whether your idea fills a gap in the market.
Do your products or services meet customer requirements? Consider pricing and quality issues.
Do you know how to forecast your cashflow? What assistance will you need in book-keeping and tax affairs?
Consider the implications for your social and domestic life.
Preparing a business plan
It is important that you produce a realistic working business plan. It can help you spot potential pitfalls before they happen, structure the financial side of your business efficiently, focus your development efforts and also work as a measure of your success. In addition, if you do not have a working business plan you will not be able to secure any funding.
A business plan might include:
Executive summary - this is an overview of the business you want to start.
Business opportunity - who you are, your skills, experience and relevant training, what you plan to sell or offer, why and to whom.
Marketing and sales strategy - why you think people will buy what you. want to sell and how you plan to sell to them, who your key competitors are and how you plan to beat the competition.
Management team and personnel - your credentials and the people you plan to recruit to work with you.
Operations - your premises, production facilities, your management information systems and IT.
Financial forecasts - this section translates everything you have said in the previous sections into numbers.
You should also try to think about how your sight problem might impact on your business. Organisations like RNIB, with our network of employment specialists, can help you assess this.
I have found that if you are positive, other people tend to be positive too. Although I don't think a disability is a qualification, it is an advantage to me in my businesses as they are disability related and I can relate through my own experiences.
Steph, 33 has leber's optic neuropathy and is an entrepreneur who runs two award-winning businesses. Steph is unable to see printed material so relies on speech software when accessing her computer and phone. She feels that without reasonable adjustments she couldn't run her businesses.
I think it is really important to thoroughly research into what running a business entails and going into it with your eyes open. If you expect problems and try and find solutions, most of the issues that you may come across can be easily resolved.
Frank offers advice and consultancy to parents of visually impaired children regarding education related options and gives talks at parent support group meetings and schools. He recently decided to venture into new territory by setting up a catering business.
Listen to Giles talk about his interesting and varied career working as an associate, team leader, manager, trainer, and script writer. He now works as a freelance consultant.
UKVISE is the United Kingdom Vision Impairment Small Enterprise and Self-Employment internet discussion group. It is a free service, and is open to blind and partially sighted people interested in matters relating to small enterprise or self-employment. For further information, please visit the UKVISE discussion group website.