Posted: Fri 26th Oct 2012
I've always wanted to run my own venture, so having my first child and being away from the 'traditional' workplace seemed to provide the perfect opportunity to put my entrepreneurial ambitions to the test, writes Lyndsey (left).
My goals were:
to supplement the household income
to satisfy my own desire to continue working and learning
to allow myself time to enjoy the early years of motherhood.
My circumstances meant that both time and money were sparse.Â With a newborn baby (and pretty major sleep deprivation), it was literally a case of grabbing any spare second to send an email or make a phone call to try and get things started.Â A tax rebate of around Â£200 was my total investment budget. Despite having little to work with, I managed to start a venture that achieved all of my goals from the word go.Â Since launching in January 2012, Fundraising Friend has secured grants totalling Â£47,500 and decisions are pending for applications totalling Â£275,000.Â To date I have managed to secure at least one grant for each of my clients, giving a positive return on investment for all. It's still early days, but based on my experience, here are my top tips for getting started with scant resources and no option but to succeed!
Think about your qualities, skills and experience and decide what you are qualified to sellÂ now.Â Â Consider your working background,Â what you know and who you know.Â What will you feel 'confident' selling and doing?Â And of course, what will you enjoy doing?
Avoid being overwhelmed by excessive early stage costs if at all possible.Â Use what you have and don't make unwise investments - for example, do youÂ really need to rent office space or could you work from home instead?Â Do you need a website that costs thousands or will a far cheaper brochureware site do the job?Â Also, consider what creative methods you can employ to secure your first customers. Be sure to make use of social media sites, personal contacts and recommendations.
The likelihood is that you won't have anyone to hold you directly accountable for the work that you do - which means being highly organised, self-motivated and sticking to your word.Â My clients don't have time to chase me up, therefore it is my responsibility to keep them informed of progress and deliver work of an excellent standard.Â This has resulted in repeat custom from every client I have worked with to date, severely easing the burden of searching out new leads and sales.
Fundraising Friend works with charities and social enterprises to firstly identify the most appropriate funding opportunities for their projects, and then complete the grant application forms to the highest possible standard.
Photo credit: Lyndsay Silveira
Over at Kindred HQ, Alex Butler is building a great site for freelancers and other free spirits and independent workers, with guides, opportunities and personal stories among lots of good content. Like us, Alex is passionate about supporting the growing micro-business and freelance economy. So much so, that she's petitioning the government to do more to recognise the contribution that the vast and growing number of tiny businesses make to our economy and our national life (we've already written a little about that here). She's put a e-petition on the government's Direct.gov site asking the government to do more to support freelancers and micro-firms. Specifically, Alex would like to see:
better ways to measure the size of the sector and contribution tiny enterprises make to the UK economy
tax and other incentives to encourage growth
local authorities providing facilities to bring homeworkers together for peer support and reciprocal exchange.
If you support Alex's aims, take a look at the e-petition and add your name to the cause! Photo credit: Anonymous 9000
**Independent's Day every Friday on Enterprise Nation is intended to be by small businesses for small businesses. We'd love you to send us your contributions. ** So if you have tips, advice, comments and insights from your own experience of running a small enterprise to share, please use the button below to send them to us. Whether it's something you've learned about customer service, a time-saving tool you've discovered or a great sales technique you employ - if it's useful, pass it on! All we ask is that your contributions are relevant to other small enterprises and not self-promotional - Independent's Day is about sharing, not selling. Oh, and if you try to keep it to around 300 words or so, that will mean we can feature more of your contributions each week! Have your say!