Congratulations on starting your self-employment journey! It can seem extremely daunting when considering going it alone. That's why we have put together this package to help you through the process.
Please work your way through the resources below and use the links on the Training Area page to book your one to one sessions. (Max 2 hours per week, you have 12 weeks to use your sessions).
Here you will find useful downloads, links and videos to help you gain the skills and knowledge you need to take on freelance work or to run your own business.
Self-Employment and Benefits
You may be currently claiming benefits, or you might have to initially make a benefit claim when you first register as self employed to cover you for the start-up period. The first few months of starting a new business, or moving to a freelance model of working can mean shelling out for costs whilst there is nothing coming in. We aim to mitigate that as much as possible by helping you to prepare but also it is worth finding out if you are entitled to any Universal Credit.
You can go to the Turn 2 Us website for more information and also to use the benefit calculator at the bottom the page
If you do need to make a claim for Universal Credit you can do it here
Personal Survival Budget
One of the first things we need to do is to calculate your cost of living. This will help you to work out how much you will need to earn on a weekly or monthly basis when you go self-employed.
You will need to take into account that you may lose your current income stream if you chose to focus on your business full-time. Also you will factor in any other income you have for example, pensions, partners income etc.
Some people decide to gradually ease into self-employment whilst keeping on their full time job, others prefer to jump straight in, as they know they can generate income from the offset.
working out What Equipment Do You Need to Get Started
Even if you are not selling products and your business is service related, it is still likely that you will need some kind of equipment to carry out the service that you offer, marketing materials to promote yourself, insurances, mobile and internet services.
It is important to create a list of what you need, evaluate the costs so you can work out a budget. You might not be able to afford everything you need in one go, so you might have to work out a list of priorities and what is affordable as a starting point and then add to your equipment as you start to generate an income.
To help you get started we have put together a budgeting checklist. You can add the information from this into your business plan at a later stage.
Self-Employed with HMRC
When you start working as self-employed one of the first questions you need to ask yourself is if you are going to register as a sole trader or a Limited Company and if you need to be VAT registered. If you are working as a freelancer/sub-contractor you also need to consider if your services fall under IR35 or not. You can select the link below to learn more about your options.
Once you have decided which option is the best for you, you can register your business here
It is essential to register with the HMRC so that your earnings can be linked to your tax account. You can earn £12,570 before you pay tax, then the amount of tax you pay will depend on how much you earn. You can learn more about your personal tax allowance here and National Insurance Contributions here
Choosing Your Business Name
Firstly when choosing your business name, you need consider that it will be with you for the duration of your business. So chose a name that resonates with you and your service. It doesn't necessarily have to mean anything specific as there are many big brand names that are simply words 'Toshiba' ' Apple'. The important thing is you are happy with it because once you start designing your branding you are going to want to stick with it. It is confusing for customers if you are constantly changing your name and your brand design.
When thinking of your name it is important to check that it's not registered elsewhere. The two best ways to check this are by searching companies house to see if there is already a business registered with that name. You can do this here. Another way is to check if anyone has registered a domain name for it, so if your business is Advanced Accounting go to www.123-reg.co.uk and check if anyone has registered advancedaccounting.co.uk or advancedaccounting.com
Defining Your Products And Services
It's really important to think about what your product or service is going to be before making the leap into marketing yourself. When a customer asks you about your product/service you want to be very clear about what you can and can't offer. A lot of freelance works and small businesses fall into the trap of trying to be to versatile and flexible. They have a desperation to obtain new customers and so then promise to be all things to everyone. What this leads to is inconsistency, lack of planning, and impulsive decision making which is very rarely profitable.
We have created a workbook which you can download from the link below which will help you to establish the following:
Who your customers are
What do they want and when do they want it
How much are they willing to pay and what is the cost of the service to you
Identifying Your Competitors
Unless you have come up with a completely niche idea you are likely to have competitors. Before approaching customers it is important to assess the market.
You need to understand what your competitor is offering and do they have any advantages:
You are unlikely to be the best in every area so you need to work out what your USP is. What can you do better than anyone else?
Income Generation Opportunities
Whether you are a self-employed individual or planning on being a company that employs staff, possibly even a limited company or VAT registered, you are still a business. Your business might only have one stream of income or it may have several.
In this section we are going to explore all of the different ways that your business can make money whilst also ensuring that you don't try to spread yourself to thin and go off in to many different directions as this will use more energy and could be counter-productive.
Download our income stream calculator to work out what your annual income will likely be. This will help you to complete your cashflow forecast.
For anyone who has ever done a management you have likely come across SWOT before. For those of you knew to this it means:
This is a great tool for helping you to figure out which areas of your business you have mastered, which areas you need to develop in, what future opportunities are insight for your business and what could prevent you from being a success. This is a great tool to use as preparation for creating your business plan.
Marketing Yourself As A Business
Every business replies on bringing in customers. Whether you are selling a product or offering a service. You may have one regular customer that buys your services on an on-going basis, like a freelance tutor working for the same college or you may have multiple customers that you work with or sell to on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. (Please remember to check the IR35 section for how this affects you with your taxes).
We need to assess how you will attract customers. There are a range of different marketing techniques that can use these include physical marketing materials, like business cards leaflets, digital marketing materials, like infographics, animations, also there are events, conventions etc that you can attend to share information with relevant audiences.
Creating Your Business Plan
Now you have completed all of the other sections of this course this section should be pretty easy as we have all of the information we need to create the business plan and cashflow forecast.
Even if you are a sole trader providing a single service it is always useful to have a business plan to refer to as new opportunities may present themselves in the future and you can use this as a tool to assess the situation hypothetically to work out if it is worth you investing your time, energy and money into.
Business plans and cashflow forecasts are also requested if you ever go for any type of business finance, particularly start-up loans. You can view more information on start-up loans here.
Signing Contracts and Invoicing
So your ready to start trading! You have registered your business and taken all of the other steps required. You have utilised your marketing plan and now have your first customers, what next?
If you are offering a service it is important that you make a contract with your customer. This will identify the level of service you are going to provide, if their is any warranty or cover, explain what insurance protection you have, any refund policy, timeframe to deliver the service etc. There are sites such as Law Depot that allow you to customise their legal templates in minutes
When it comes to invoicing for your services you must make sure they are sent on time, as delays sending them can result in late payments. You can use an invoicing tool like QuickBooks to manage your invoicing and accounts in one place