Last month, I took part in a course that supports small, start-up businesses in Norwich. Having absorbed and fed on the good advice, I am writing this to assure those thinking about business support. In short, seek it. You’ll be so glad.
NWES: Ready For Business?
In my neck of the woods, NWES Ready For Business is tailored to Norfolk start-ups and entrepreneurs. Many such schemes operate in the United Kingdom, often government-funded in light of the self-employment boom. NWES tutor the aspiring trader, equipping them with the knowledge they need to earn a crust. Over two weeks, myself and several others were mentored by a number of advisors in both open workshops and one-to-one sessions. This gave ample room to address each of our concerns (and boy we had them), as well as receiving advice tailored to individual business circumstances.
Learning with a group was a joy. So much time is spent by oneself, Googling HMRC that you’d think you’re the sole trader on earth. It was, therefore, a relief to learn as a pack – worried, curious and eager in equal measures. Ours were an eclectic bunch of illustrator, dog trainer, conflict resolver, carpenter, web designer (hello) and falafel maker, to name a few. All from Norwich, all seeking support.
You can approach business from different angles. One, with a false confidence: I know my trade, I know my audience, let’s get to bookkeeping and be done with it. Conversely, the whole thing might terrify you. ‘Business’ and its white-collar buzzwords might feel like an obstacle stemming your creativity. Starting out, I had this misconception that to run a business you needed to be superhuman; a rare breed that juggles numbers, busts chops, shines shoes and knows every last sub-clause in tax law.
Not so. If there’s one thing I learnt from this course, it’s that business is a mindset you inject into what you love, giving you a sharper sense on how to play it. It is not a side project to wrap up the day, nor is it something you ‘get out of the way’ before designing websites and printing pamphlets. Business is a pragmatic way of thinking – whether how you approach clients, how you sell furnishings or, as we learnt on the course, how your corner shop’s freezer model will affect sales. As for bookkeeping and taxation, we were told in simple terms what to do, when to do it, how to do it and where to send it. Bit by bit, obstacles were broken down so that things like business plans and accounting became second nature, rather than homework. Granted, you could learn this on your own, but it’s likely to be fragmented and lack the thoroughness of professional and willing support.
Since learning with NWES I have committed some 6,000 words to a business plan, organised a horde of spreadsheets and renovated my website. This was neither intimidating nor tasking. What had been peripheral has become a part of every email, service and business arrangement. I have since streamlined my work ethic, found myself more clients and, as you’ll see in the coming months, begun work on some smashing websites. It’s daunting, it’s fun, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.
By Bruce Sigrist in: Norwich