Last week, we had the pleasure of the company of one of our sons and his truly delightful girlfriend. So what? You might ask. Well, they are both self-employed opera singers, and as such, their job security is less than brilliant, though fortunately they are both energetic enough and talented enough to be working almost non-stop including at some prestigious addresses such as Glyndebourne and with ENO at The London Coliseum. (I must now apologise on their behalf because that would have embarrassed them both, as they don’t like showing off!!)
It struck me as I worried a bit about them and their future, that I am far from the only parent in this situation. Many young people, and some not so young, are prey to the gig economy now. Many more will have to be self-employed in the future as our business infra-structure changes and, as those of us who are old enough know, they will need to be in a robust position, because there will inevitably be bad times as well as good.
Is there a certain path through this world? Most definitely not, as I know myself. There are challenges at all stages of a business’s life, from its inception to its demise, and sometimes they can seem insurmountable. Taking each issue just one day at a time and having the best support network you can afford has always, I have found, been the best way forward. Experiencing difficulties in just about every area have forced us to grow in maturity and to develop a stronger business sense without losing the core values which inspired us to begin this business 26 years ago. It is these values which will keep you going however extreme the challenges.
If I could offer one certain piece of advice to any start up business, it is this … If getting rich quick is your sole motivation for starting a business, don’t bother! That isn’t to say it can’t happen, and good luck to all business start-ups, I hope it happens for you. However, if you listen to any really successful business person – and by this I mean multi-billionaire type business people – more often than not they are as surprised as anyone that they have become so incredibly wealthy, and their success rarely happened over-night.
Starting a business requires a good idea and considerable research to find out how viable the idea will be. However great your product is, remember that if you give poor service, customers will soon show you a clean pair of heels!
Useful people to contact early are your prospective bank and the professionals you will need to keep you compliant with the laws and HMRC. I quite often chat to people who are seeking an accountant just when they need to file their first set of accounts. It is so much more helpful to make the time to talk to several advisers at a very early stage, to ensure that you are comfortable with them and that you have set off down the right path. It’s crucial to feel that you are singing from the same page and that you feel that you will be supported by your professional team throughout your working life. Never stop yourself asking them questions however obvious they may seem, and never feel daft for not understanding all the answers. Furthermore, if the professional opposite you is somehow making you feel that way, pick up your questions and walk! They don’t deserve your business.
Self-employment can be hard, but it can also be really rewarding and motivating. One thing is for sure, you’ll never meet a bored self-employed person!
Have a good summer!