Business plans; how to not freak out.

Business plans; how to not freak out.

I’m partly writing this for myself as a bit of reassurance that the cleverly formulated business plan that i have in my head will make it to paper by the end of today.

Writers block has kicked in at the crappiest time indeed.

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So, once again, i have turned to that there interweb for some advice and found some motivation in the information offered. Also helped me to calm down a bit as i juggle making new stock with nursing an ill kid, all whilst assessing my new business and trying to market it…phew!

  • The Guardian has a great small business section, you can join their hub for regular updates, and these tips on writing business plans helped set my brain whirring – it’s more general than detailed, but sets you on the right direction

http://www.guardian.co.uk/small-business-network/2012/jul/06/business-plan-writing-tips

  • Barclays have this, rather dry, but detailed guide on their site. more useful for the real sitting down, drafting stage:

http://www.barclays.co.uk/Startupsupport/Writingasmallbusinessplan/P1242559649359

  • The Dummies cheat sheet is where i’m at: i have this open while im typing to keep me on track, and usefully, it lists all the potholes i should avoid

http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/business-plans-for-dummies-cheat-sheet.html

But these are just a few, if you find any, please let me know in the comments!

As i have mentioned in previous blogs, i am on a mentoring scheme with BRAVE. They have supplied me with a lovely mentor who offers me honest advice and tea, soothing me with his Liverpudlian tones (sounds like perving, i’m just really grateful) – they are Bristol based but most areas have this kind of scheme,

http://www.brave.org.uk/

and i’m also speaking to Outset – can never have too much help eh?

http://www.outsetbristol.co.uk/

This is all via the New Enterprise Allowance – set up by the government to help people transfer from benefits to self employment

http://www.dwp.gov.uk/adviser/updates/new-enterprise-allowance/

I have been glad of the help of the support schemes, their workshops have been invaluable, and would warn anyone thinking of embarking on this, the NEA scheme is in no way generous – i am personally taking the chance as my personal circumstances make it hard to find sustainable work, but its still a big risk, and lately i’ve felt rather bonkers for taking this direction. Still, i’d rather try and fail then put all my hard work into businesses that benefit others without ever knowing if i could go it alone. Sadly, the Jobcentre often seem to be in conflict with the scheme, so you have to keep pushing that you are starting a business before you get plonked on a ‘Work Scheme’ or some other unhelpful nonsense. Be bold, and make them listen.

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The prospect is hard work and in light of the painfully short NEA timescale and low payments:

“a weekly allowance worth £1,274 over 26 weeks, paid at £65 a week for the first 13 weeks and £33 a week for a further 13 weeks”

you do need to plan well and be realistic about the potential for your venture – a business plan can be your personal goal and the main KPI for your venture.

If you don’t know what a KPI is, you may not be ready yet…

So, with my harsh assessment of my own ability and a frugal, Northern loathing of borrowing or spending money, i’m off to tackle that plan head on…after a cuppa…

Wish me luck!

Money money money.

Money money money.

Easily the biggest question i have faced on the road to self employment is that of money – whether it’s covering childcare costs, or the long term financial viability of my business. It’s in no way simple, and i am no great financial mind. Not at all.

However, having been a single parent on and off for 7 years now, battling the benefits system and ruthless employers has given me the inate frugality required to face the inevitable poverty of a start up period, and the sheer bloody mindedness to make work where there is none of a sustainable nature for people in my situation.

I am applying for funding on the New Enterprise Allowance, and a possible loan to cover my start up costs.

http://www.dwp.gov.uk/adviser/updates/new-enterprise-allowance/

BRAVE offered great free workshops to get me to this point – covering all aspects of developing a business idea from initial ideas to marketing.

http://www.brave.org.uk/

For those on benefits who are thinking of the NEA route, the course and advice from the Bristol Debt Advisory Service was invaluable. They are a really great bunch of people, and do it all gratis. Good eh?

http://www.bdac.org.uk/

When it’s all so baffling, it’s nice to have a bit of help.

So, here we go, wish me luck!

Meanwhile…back in Bristol.

Following my Leeds travels, i had a meeting with Brave who support Bristol based businesses, attended some (pretty intense but useful) courses, and began work on my project in full.

http://www.brave.org.uk/startup

I have been developing a few ideas for a while now under the name of ‘Kecks Clothing’ and decided to get some pictures together to show potential stockists, and to get the brand vision out there. Here’s a few pictures from the shoot:

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Poor model getting tweaked endlessly by me.

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One of the ‘Stems’ t-shirts i designed for the band of the same name.

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Silly.

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Restraining my massive hair in a cut out tank…

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Stunning Charlotte in a ‘Stems’ dress -sadly you can’t see the design too well.

If you fancy a shoot yourself, Charlotte Sexauer was our photographer and is availale for hire  https://www.facebook.com/charlotte.sexauer?ref=ts&fref=ts