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This month, Business Support Specialist Heidi Green tells us about the rewards of self-employment.

It may be that 2018 is the year you achieve your dream of self-employment. Starting your own business is exciting, giving you the freedom to work hard on things you’re most passionate about.

A brave but rewarding decision, make sure you examine all aspects of starting up and ensure you give yourself the best chance possible of business survival. Speak to other business owners, ones who are willing to share the ups and downs of their journey, saving you from making some of the same mistakes they’ve made.

One of the first things you should do is understand the market you’re going into. Do your market research. This should include your customers, your competitors and your suppliers. What exactly are your prospective customers looking for? How does the current competition serve those needs? How much can you charge and how much will it cost you to supply the service or product?

Then start looking at the finances. How will you fund the business start-up and cover the gap between starting and making a profit? Think about the cost of marketing, overheads, insurance, travel. Remember, cash flow in business can be make or break.

Business planning is essential no matter how convinced you are that it can’t fail. Writing the plan helps you to identify exactly what you’re going to do, how you’re going to do it and when you expect benchmarks to happen.

Finally, once you’re up and running, make sure you manage people well. That’s not just staff, if you employ them, but in terms of customer service too. It’s a skill in its own right and really can be the difference between success and failure.

For further help and advice on business growth and funding opportunities, contact Heidi Green, Senior Business Advisor for Selby District Council via email at hgreen@selby.gov.uk or call 01757 292332.

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