Why you shouldn’t be intimidated by self-employment

As 2016 draws to a close, Tim Sawyer of Start Up Loans discusses how to get off the starting blocks and make the jump to being your own boss

Microbusinesses and start-ups are vital to the UK economy, accounting for 96% of the UK’s total business population. In 2016, there were 5.3 million microbusinesses in the UK, accounting for 32% of the country’s employment.

Between 2001 and 2015, the Office for National Statistics reported that the number of self-employed people in the UK grew from 3.8 million to 4.6 million.

As self-employment figures continue to rise, there are a number of reasons behind why it’s prime time to start your own business…

There is help out there – so make the most of it

Many people see access to finance as the main stumbling block when starting a business. According to our recent research, over two fifths (41%) of Brits don’t feel confident seeking financial support.

In reality, there are many options available and it’s just a case of exploring the different avenues out there to ensure you are going down the correct route for your business. As well as capital, there are also mentoring schemes that can help you get off the starting blocks and guide your initial business strategy. What’s more, the mentoring support often reassures many that their business idea is less likely to fall at the first hurdle.

Since launching our government-backed scheme in 2012, The Start Up Loans Company has helped over 42,000 microbusinesses get off the ground. Every day we see people start a venture with our financial backing and support, and it’s truly inspirational to witness some of the businesses we’ve helped evolve from their infancy.

It will be tough, but you’ll reap the rewards

Starting your own business is always going to be a challenge. It will push your boundaries and prompt you to enter the unknown. What any budding start-up owner should bear in mind is that when their hard work reaps rewards, the feeling of satisfaction will be second to none.

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In 2013, we supported the launch of Decorator’s Notebook, an online home accessory business founded by siblings Bethan, a former journalist, and Joe John, a former e-commerce developer. They decided to channel their skills in a new direction, which they both admit was a gamble.

The business sources its products from social enterprises around the world, including India, Morocco, Peru, Tunisia and Kenya, and ensures artisans receive a fair price for their products. In the past year, the business has doubled its annual turnover and it now plans to expand the number of countries it imports from.

It’s businesses like these that are truly inspirational, and why Decorator’s Notebook has been appointed as a Small Business Saturday Ambassador. Bethan and Joe’s challenge is to champion fair trade while ensuring their business remains profitable, which isn’t easy. Marrying their high design and ethical values can be difficult, and sourcing products that meet the standards required can be a challenge. It also means there’s more risk involved because the business is trading overseas and in foreign currencies.

Decorator’s Notebook used our mentoring scheme, in addition to the funding provided, and worked together to establish how best to tackle these challenges. But it’s these challenges that fuel their drive and overcoming them is what ultimately provides them with satisfaction. 

Being your own boss brings control

Although getting the initial idea off the ground tends to require long hours and manic schedules, one thing having your own business affords is the ability to have more control over your working life.

Our recent research shows that almost 46% of people believe starting your own business gives greater flexibility over working hours. It means working parents have greater freedom in deciding how to structure their work-life balance, which many people don’t have the luxury of doing when they work for someone else.

The most important thing for budding entrepreneurs to remember is that, although starting your own business may seem daunting, our research cites greater flexibility over working hours as one of the top motivators.

If you’re considering launching your own venture, ensure you make the most of the support networks out there. As the number of UK small businesses continues to grow, it’s never too late to seek advice and unleash your inner entrepreneur.


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