Well that is pretty much a million-dollar question, but it is one that I have seen asked numerous times over the last 8 months or so. 
 
I think it is fair to say that the Covid pandemic has hit people and businesses hard – not just in this country but across the globe. Whether or not people agree with the actions taken by the government and their advisors is a whole other topic that I will not go into here, but the fact remains that the ramifications have been significant. 
 
People have lost their jobs; businesses have closed. I’m stating the obvious, I know but please bear with me. 
 
Many people have asked me how our business has been impacted by the pandemic. I have been in a very fortunate position to say that, whilst there has been a decline in business, it has not been severe enough to seriously affect our business as a whole. We have been one of the fortunate ones… and we know it! 
 
You would assume, therefore, that I would be advising people to avoid starting their own business in the current climate. 
 
Surprisingly, you would be wrong in that assumption. However, I would always recommend caution when thinking of starting a new business, irrespective of the current climate. 
 
Before you do anything else, you need to carry out research into the industry you are considering – a lot of it. 
 
If you can, get advice from people with experience in running a business, especially within the same sector that you are considering – believe it or not, some of the best contacts can often be those that you would consider ‘competitors’! There are lots of companies out there who offer training courses for running your own business. If possible, go with a recommendation. I personally recommend ‘Build Your Business Training’ which is run by Lisa Smith and Harriet Dunn. They have some excellent courses designed to help you through the complexities of self-employment, sole traders, registered companies, etc.: https://www.buildyourbusinesstraining.com
 
Another absolute must is to seriously consider the financial requirements of any new venture – there will be loads of expenses that you would not necessarily think about and, before you know it, these unanticipated costs can add up to significant sums of money. It is easy to get lost in the excitement of starting something new and being your own boss, but it does come with a lot of responsibilities, especially if you are thinking of employing staff. 
 
Employing staff is a minefield and the best place to get free information and advice is via https://www.gov.uk/browse/business. Whatever you do, remember that, as an employer you need to register for PAYE and you will have to provide your employees with a pension, by law. You will be able to find all the information and advice you need on the Gov website. 
 
Once you have considered all of these factors, you can then make an informed decision. 
 
 
Over the years I have often heard people say “It must be great to be your own boss. You can do what you want and don’t have anyone to answer to. Think of all the holidays you can take!”. My answer to that… “I wish!”. 
 
My advice, before you do anything else, is that you take off those rose-tinted glasses. 
 
Self-employment and ‘being your own boss’ is great, please do not get me wrong BUT it is hard work. When my staff finish their shifts, I do not finish mine. I and my co-director, Emilie, are ‘on call’ 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year… but that is the nature of the business that we are in. Not every business will be the same but I can guarantee you one thing – the first year or even first few years will be hard work. ‘Commitment’ is the cornerstone to a successful business – if you cannot commit then it is more likely than not that you will not succeed. 
 
I can guarantee only one thing – there will be times (and probably quite a few of them) where you will ask yourself “What have I done?”. Do not give up at the first hurdle, or the second, or the third – there will be lots of hurdles for you to get over. Be steadfast in your belief in yourself and your product/service. I am not suggesting that you move blindly forwards; you do need to be realistic but you also need to have faith. 
 
There remains only one other piece of advice that I would give anyone seriously considering starting their own business… 
 
If you believe you have a great business idea, you have carried out your research with positive results, you have the financial capacity and the desire to succeed then…  
GO FOR IT! 
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