Until late last year, I didn’t know anything about small business, except that I wanted to have a go at it, so ...
Here’s what I needed to get started:
Inspiration ... I went to the Melbourne Stitches & Craft Show in 2009 and had a light bulb moment as soon as I saw the Incubator section ... there were “others” ... people who liked to make stuff that was cool, who were having a go and were happy to share their stories (thankyou!).
An idea ... I wanted to handprint fabrics with my own designs for use in my home and others if they liked them enough. Arriving back home after being at the Show that day, I found two printing books that I had ordered online a couple of weeks before waiting for me at the front door. With no background in graphic design or printing, I knew it was a sign ... it was meant to be.
Support ... I started blogging, thinking, drawing (I keep a visual diary), and talking about my ideas. I could not have done any of this without the support of my family.
Information ... I spent a whole afternoon at Small Business Victoria (government agency) ... I walked in and said “I’d like to start a small/tiny business. I know nothing about it. Please tell me everything you know”. The people there were wonderful - I walked out with forms, pamphlets and a clear pathway to becoming a sole trader.
Research ... the internet is a great source of information, suppliers, ideas, inspiration, tax calculators ... you name it! Ask around, get recommendations, check things out for yourself and keep a record of contacts and/or information you might need in the future.
A plan ... I know everyone says it, but you DO need a plan! Don’t call it a business plan if the title freaks you out. My plan was a page long list and lasted 6 months (time for a new one now!). I listed what I wanted to achieve, how I was going to achieve it, how much time/money it would cost and when it would be completed. I’m happy to say that I have done everything in the plan as well as a bit more that I didn’t see coming six months ago. I have found that planning helps me understand the risks and benefits of what I am trying to do, making it easier to make reasonably informed decisions along the way.
Resources ... there are grants and other financial opportunities available to start small businesses (see your local council or government agency). To date I have funded everything myself – saving up to do the next thing in the plan.
Opportunities ... I took every offer of help that was presented to me – many clever people are very generous with their time and expertise. Ask questions. Also, I have learnt that being in business opens up your eyes to other business ideas and opportunities you may not have noticed/thought of before.
Confidence ... Being true to my ideas and designs.
Connections ... Sharing the journey through my blog and with family and friends has been very rewarding and helpful. A fresh set of eyes is invaluable. Ask for constructive criticism often.
In short, getting started is hard and not hard all at once. I found making the decision the actually do it the hardest ... everything after that was just giving it a go and learning on the job. Loving what you do is the best ingredient for happiness, success and riding the business rollercoaster!
Well, that’s enough rambling for one day. Let me know what you think.