My decision to start my own business later in life was a daunting one.
But like many new start-ups, I had passion, an idea, had gone and got some more formal qualifications in design, but wasn’t quite sure how to make it all come together.
Get help to go from business idea to business reality
I am a very creative person and my passion has always been art and design. I saw a gap in the home styling market and a business opportunity. I knew so many homes could be presented better, and sell for a higher price, by making them more visually appealing to potential buyers.
In the same way it is best to leave styling a home to an expert like me, I realised that I needed expert help to properly research and establish my business. You can’t do it all on your own.
There are lots of resources available to assist people starting up their own business. There are many programs and grants on offer through government departments and business centres. Business
chambers, business networking organisations and the business media can be a good source of information on the right ones for your business.
I was fortunate to access the Hunter Futurepreneurs Program and received support from the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS).
As a result of my success seeking help, I wanted to share with you some options that might help you navigate the resources available to help you along your business journey.
My three tips for using free or subsidised expert programs
- Test your concept.
I initially attended some free information sessions, which are handy to help you test if you have got what it takes to start a business before getting in too deep. The sessions gave me an understanding of all that is involved in starting a business from scratch. They also allowed me to meet likeminded people who were supportive and constructive about my business idea.
Feeling confident, I was able to launch into my home styling business.
- Plan up front.
You need to establish your vision and goals as well as identify your customer base, unique selling proposition, strengths and weaknesses and know your competitors before charging into spending money on any business.
Hunter Futurepreneurs and NEIS programs gave me support in business planning, marketing and risk management. They also connected me with other experts and support services, some of them free.
- Use networks and programs as a board of advisors.
When you are a small business, particularly a sole trader, you don’t have the luxury of business partners.
staff or boards. Accessing business start-up support services also provides you with an ongoing mentor and sounding board.
Learn from others for success
I went from being intimidated to being confident. With the proper business foundation, I have been able to continue to grow my business. The programs I accessed have showcased my story as a successful case study too, which has given me some free publicity and boosted my confidence.
With so many small businesses failing in the first few years, you are mad if you don’t take advantage of the many, often free, business set up support services available in the region. There are also ongoing support services and networking opportunities which are invaluable to keep your business going through the inevitable challenges that will arise.
I am loving being my own boss and very satisfied that my business is my passion. But I wouldn’t be where I am if I hadn’t listened to experts from the get go.
If you want to start your own business or have recently started one, spend the time seeking out expert support services. It will be the best business investment you make.