Posted: Wed 17th Feb 2021
Working out how to start a business can feel daunting. Somebody who knows this only too well is the founder of Enterprise Nation, Emma Jones.
Emma started her first business, Techlocate, in 2000. The experience of starting and growing that business from a home base gave Emma the idea for Enterprise Nation.
Launched in 2006, we're now the most active small business community in the UK and have helped thousands of entrepreneurs to turn their business dreams into a reality.
Emma is also the best-selling author of business books Working 5 to 9, Spare Room StartUp, and The StartUp Kit. In June 2012 Emma was awarded an MBE for Services to Enterprise. And earlier this year Emma was awarded the rank CBE.
So who better to answer the most burning questions on the lips of our small business community? In a new series of Q&As I'll be posing your questions to Emma. You've been flooding my inbox over the last few weeks. Let's dive right in…
Tammie Evans: "How do you know when to switch from hobby to business? I'm starting an Etsy store selling printable stickers but am lost as to when I'm officially a 'business' rather than a 'hobby'. Should I register my business now? Should I wait until I've hit £1,000 in sales as per the UK gov website? I'm confused."
"Hi Tammie - thanks for the question. If you are starting an Etsy store, I would suggest you are building a business as hopefully Etsy will connect you to lots more customers and your sales will grow.
"The government - in the form of HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) - want to hear from you if you are starting to make sales that will continue. You simply register as a sole trader here. You might also want to open a business bank account so you can keep your business and personal transactions separate.
"Once registered as a sole trader there is some admin required in keeping records of your sales and costs. You will also need to submit a self-assessment tax return each year. If your sales are not large in year one and you have incurred costs in setting up the business, this could possibly lead to a tax refund. You can access a free discovery call with an accountant on the Enterprise Nation platform who can offer advice based on your specific and personal circumstances. Best wishes with your business!"
Emilia Morales: "I'm 29 years old and at the start of the year had to move back to London following a relationship breakdown, leaving my career behind in the process. I've moved back in with my parents and, essentially, I'm starting adult life all over again. Although it's scary I believe that everything happens for a reason and I'm embracing the change. So much so that I've finally made the decision to start my own business.
"I'd like to know, how or what is the best way to deal with imposter syndrome? I've found I keep avoiding even the smallest tasks, battling with self-doubt and thoughts of 'I don't know why I'm bothering' or 'it'll never work'. It's so unlike me. Any tips would be greatly appreciated."
"Hi Emilia - thanks for your question and a couple of thoughts for you: I think you should get yourself a business buddy and a mentor. Find someone who is at the same stage of business as you, as speaking through the highs and lows will boost your confidence and confirm that you are not the only one who has these thoughts.
"Finding a mentor - in particular someone who has experience of growing a business in the same sector or industry as you - will help. By discussing the factors holding you back you'll figure out yourself how to overcome them. Business coach Kim Sprague shares her tips on raising confidence and eliminating imposter syndrome in this short video.
"I would also suggest reading stories of others who have built businesses as this will give you confidence. Making plans can also help you realise that reaching goals is achievable. Have you written a plan for the business? If not, I would suggest you do. This short video covers the five key things to include in a business plan.
"With a good support network around you, anything is possible in business and if you believe you can achieve it, you almost definitely will. Best wishes and please stay connected to the Enterprise Nation community so we can support you on the journey."
Louise Clarke: "I publish a monthly newsletter listing local networking events in Exeter. It's already popular with a number of local businesses and sole traders but I could do with a strategy to grow the newsletter and increase the readership. I'd also love to attract sponsorship and advertising. I'm not sure where to start - can you help?****"
"Congratulations on your success so far, Louise. It sounds like you have an asset that could start to attract advertising. My advice is to develop a media rate card - this is a document you make available for download and it includes key metrics on the size of your newsletter distribution list and level of engagement (i.e. open rates and social media following).
"You then include priced options for advertisers along with some key benefits they will see from advertising with you. If you have testimonials from happy customers, these can go in this document too. To gauge the rates to charge, look at newsletter lists similar in size to yours and look at their rates as this will give a good indication of what the market will pay.
"In terms of increasing the size of your newsletter distribution, have you tried competitions or offering a valuable piece of content? Maybe an eBook on how to manage in a world of online events or the 2021 Exeter Events Directory.
"Capture people's email addresses when they download the content. Also consider partnerships with complementary brands - maybe event venues that are looking to re-open - where you could jointly run a promotional campaign to sign up event go-ers.
"You could also consider becoming our Local Leader for Exeter and host your own monthly meet-up while sharing details of other events with your attendees!"
Have you got a burning business question that you'd like to ask Emma? Email us here.