Loan specialist, Amigo, works with lots of micro businesses giving them small loans to help them start off – who often get turned away from the large main stream banks because they are one man bands.
Kelly Davies turned to Amigo to help set up her own freelance PR business.
Kelly talks to Female First about her venture and shares her top tips to starting your very own micro-business.
I set up my own freelance PR business three years ago and was part of the growing army of 'one-woman bands' sweeping the nation. From muffin makers to shellac nail technicians, microbusinesses (companies with only 1-10 employees) contributed £596 billion to the economy in 2013. But, as I experienced first-hand, the banks are failing to support the people who need it most and getting the money together for that sewing machine or gardening tools is proving harder than ever.
Early on in my venture, a chance conversation on Twitter led me to meet the founder of Amigo Loans, and three years on, I'm a full time employee and loving every second. It makes me proud to see our old-fashioned approach to lending, where we use friends and family as guarantors, help so many women fulfil their business ambitions. We have lent to £2.15million to some of the 4.6 million* micro-businesses in the UK since January 2014 to help companies start up and entrepreneurs’ find their feet.
I know how daunting it can be to start your own business along the way I’ve learnt some valuable lessons, so to help other new starters, here are my tips on how to get ahead and stay ahead of the game!
1. Do what you love
Finding the right business is like finding love. When it’s right, it’s right. If it’s not amazing, move on. There’s always a better business out there but you only get one life.
2. Don't get stressed about writing a business plan
Chances are it will sit on your kitchen worktop and gather dust for a year. Instead, write out your goal for the first year and stick it somewhere when you can see it every day. Put some milestones on there too. If you're not hitting them, start asking why.
Spread the word. Meet as many people as you can who you think will help your business. If you're shy and rely on other people to get your business going, think of another business – but chances are you're going to have to put yourself out there if you're running your own show.
4. Your phone is your best friend
Smartphones mean it's easier than ever to get on Twitter and Facebook and cyber network. Be bold, be pushy, be brave. I won new clients, which led on to an amazing new job, by being a tweeter.
5. Ask your Mum
Explain your idea and business plan to your friends and family. If you can't sum it up one sentence or if your Mum's eyes glaze over, work at it. If you can't sum up what you do in one tweet (140 characters) then try again. Keep it simple.
6. Get back up when you are knocked down
Try a lot of things. Expect most things you do to fail, but expect one or two huge successes along the way. Be really careful of things that don’t quite work. They can absorb years of your life
7. Be you own customer
Does what you're offering make your life better? If it doesn't, ask yourself why. Don't rely too heavily on market research. People will tell you what they think you want to hear. What they say they want and what they actually need could be very different. Trust your gut. If you think there's a gap, go for it.
8. Overestimate how much you are going to spend and underestimate how much you are going to earn
I’m not saying don’t be ambitious, but be realistic. If you’re proven wrong it’s an added bonus, but you can’t expect to make tons of money straight away with any hiccups. That’s why it’s so important to have financial support in place to guide you through the tough times.
9. Keep your finances in strict order
It’s your responsibility to know what money is coming in and out, be meticulous and pay attention to detail. Spread sheets are dull but if you get to grips with them they'll be your saviour when it comes to tax returns.
Finally, sometimes it might feel like absolute whirlwind and you’ll feel like you’re working 24/7 (because at the start you often are). But, it is important to chill out and spend time with your friends and family – do something you enjoy and live your life. During this downtime, you will find yourself thinking of even bigger and better ideas to help your business grow.
* Data taken from Small businesses and the UK economy, parliamentary paper, released 13 June 2014. Found at: www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/sn06078.pdf, Small businesses and the UK economy – a parliamentary publication with a statistical analysis of small businesses in the UK, the role of small businesses in international trade, small businesses and GDP, small businesses and tax receipts and information on government policy towards small businesses.
For more information, visit: http://www.amigoloans.co.uk/