It goes without saying that the start to 2020 has been somewhat strange. With signs of lockdown being eased, the big question is what will business life after lockdown look like? Will it perhaps open up opportunities for people to start their own businesses?
On the 23rd March 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced in a televised address to the nation that the UK was effectively shutting down. All non-essential businesses were to close their doors – from hoteliers and B&B’s to retail shops. It has been something this (or any other country) has ever had to do. So as we now see green shoots of a return to normal life, the big question is how is this going to change the business landscape?
For some people, once the government’s furlough scheme ends, they may be facing the stark reality of just how hard the Covid-19 pandemic has hit business. There are likely to be a large number of redundancies. This is going to lead them to ask questions not just about how they support themselves and their families financially, but also about their work/life balance. Before this pandemic, many of us were guilty of sacrificing our personal lives because we worked excessively long hours. For those who have been forced to stay at home, it may have bought them precious time with their families, and lead them ask “can I go back to that life once lockdown is eased?”
With redundancy comes a question anyone who has been made redundant asks… “should I go it alone?”. This may be the opportunity for some people to follow their instincts and work for themselves. Whilst it’s true, you get out of your own business what you put in, being your own boss does afford a level of flexibility that you don’t necessarily get from working for someone else. You call the shots, you set your working hours, and you reap the benefits of all your hard work. This is an attractive proposition, and one that may become even more prevalent as we start to return to a more normal, if cautious, life after lockdown.
It goes without saying that for anyone who’s considering starting their own business that there are a number of things to get into place before you announce to the world that you’re open for business.
Sole Trader or Limited Company?
I had to ask this question to myself when I started Websites by Dave Parker. What path would be right for me? I’ve run a limited company in the past, and it does require a lot of admin (filing annual accounts, ensuring you comply with various HMRC stipulations etc). Ultimately, for me, sole trader was the route to go, but this is very much a personal as well as a business choice.
Set Up A Bank Account
The type of bank account you’ll need depends on your trading status (Sole Trader or Limited Company). Make sure you choose a well known, well respected bank. If you’re going to go down the route of using a piece of accounting software (you should, and read below!), then you’ll want to choose a bank that supports “Open Banking” feeds. Without getting technical, this is a method where you can import your transactions into your accounting software to keep track of your finances and reconcile any invoices you send out, as well as ensuring you account for your business expenses correctly.
The one thing I did right away when I started my business was to ensure I had a proper accounting system in place. I also needed a way to make sure that I could issue invoices which could be reconciled against my bank account to make sure everything was accounted for. And finally, I wanted an integrated way to raise quotes and estimates to customers. After a lot of research, I went with FreeAgent. They offer fantastic service, excellent customer support and Open Banking feed imports to simplify the whole process. More importantly, it also doesn’t require you to understand the intricacies of bookkeeping! It works whether you’re a sole trader like me, or a limited company. It can produce invoices, quotes and timeslips. And it can even handle payroll if you need to work on a PAYE basis. For me, the cherry on the cake is that it allows. you to submit your Self Assessment (SA302) online through HMRC. The link above is my referral link which you can use to get 10% off your monthly fee if you sign up with them.
And Finally, Your Website and Branding!
Of course, this is a given considering I am a website designer! You will need to make your presence online noticed. But, as well as that, you need good branding – logo, colour palette, font choice – they are all important when it comes to running your own business. For branding, there’s only one go-to person I recommend, Mary McCarthy of Mary McCarthy Design. What she doesn’t know about branding can be written on the back of a postage stamp. I’ve worked with her on a number of projects with clients, and it has always ensured that the end result is a perfect one. Between Mary and myself, you get an end-to-end solution ensuring both your printed and digital collateral is synced with your website look and feel. Let’s face it, you want to wow a customer when they receive your business card, and you want that wow factor to filter down to your website. It’s going to be your portal to getting sales, and you need the level of detail and attention that Mary and myself will offer. If you’re going to be selling products online, be that physical or virtual/digital products, I’ve got you covered. As all of my websites are designed using WordPress with a visual editor layered on top, you can make use of the #1 e-commerce solution for WordPress – WooCommerce. It’s perfect for selling anything you can dream of, from artwork to t-shirts. And if your business model is subscription based, they even offer additional plugins to cater for this. Don’t worry, I will guide you through the whole process to ensure your new business has the best possible chance of success!
So, there you have it. My thoughts and ideas about how you can start your own business as we come out of this lockdown. It’s going to take some time for us to get back to any form of normality. This pandemic has changed our world forever. It’s going to change the way we think about life, both personal and business. But out of it may come some opportunities for people that they may have never considered if we’d not been forced into lockdown. If there is one good thing to come out of this terrible disease, it’s reflection, thought, and a new found love of life. I know some of you reading this will have lost loved ones and friends through Covid-19, and I genuinely send you my heartfelt condolences. But I hope that at the end of all this, whenever it truly comes, if you have an opportunity, you will grab it with both hands.
If you need any advice about moving forward with a website or branding, do get in touch with me. I’ll be only too happy to give you the best possible advice I can. If you’re ready to dive right in and get the process started of designing and building your website, why not fill out my Website Creative Brief to give me an idea of what you’re looking for with your new website.