Over the past year many people across the UK have directly or indirectly experienced furlough or redundancy due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
As of 15th March 2021, an estimated 11.4 million jobs from 1.3 million employers were furloughed in the UK as part of the government’s job retention scheme. The most recent unemployment rate from November 2020 to January 2021 was 5%, meaning that 1.7 million people were unemployed; the highest figure in five years.
With two extensions of furlough timelines (the latest being extended to 30th September 2021) employees see 80% of their salary covered for the hours that they cannot work, capped at £2,500 per month. Within this time, employees are not allowed to work for their employer. With up to 80% of their time back, how are those on furlough or facing redundancy planning for their future or return to work?
Exposure to new skills, retraining and a refocus on family life has led many people to explore alternative opportunities, including setting up their own business. With access to free business support, the dreams of setting up a new business are increasingly becoming a reality for many people. We’ve outlined five top tips on how to get started below:
- Focus your Passion and Idea for a Business
Identify something that you are passionate about and see a demand for. This may include an idea that you thought of previously but haven’t had the time to implement, or something that you enjoy creating for other people. A hobby can be turned into a sustainable business once you’ve developed a sound business case and plan
- Create a Business Plan
It is essential to have a clear and thoughtful business plan in place if you want your business to thrive, not just survive. A business plan is a helpful tool for figuring out your short, mid and long terms goals but if you’ve never done it before, it can also be difficult to know where to start.
No matter what sector you’re in or what size you are, it’s really important that you’re clear on what you want to achieve, how you’re planning to get there, who you’re going to target and how, and how you’ll measure your success.
Outset Online offers a unique combination of video tutorials, online tools, interactive activities, downloadable resources and user forums to help you work through all of these things so you don’t have to do it alone.
- Knowledge and confidence
For many people, starting their own business is one of the most nerve-racking things they’ve ever done. After all, it’s a big risk and there are lots of unknowns. What if your business idea doesn’t hold up or you can’t find any customers? What if something goes wrong, or you don’t know the answer, or you get in too deep? And what if you fail – what will your family and friends say? For other people, the fear is not failure – but rather success: what if everything goes right and your business is a huge success?
The important thing to remember is that you’re not alone in these feelings and you can overcome them – in fact, it’ll be one of the most rewarding things you ever do. But you do have to harness these feelings and decide to move forward, making a commitment to arm yourself as much as possible so that you’re ready for whatever comes up.
It’s helpful to join networking groups to meet fellow entrepreneurs, gain advice and find tips from people who are going through the same journey as you. Networking with business owners will also help to grow your local network and open doors to many amazing opportunities you wouldn’t have gained elsewhere.
- Support and mental health
Starting a business during any time requires a huge amount of time, dedication and sacrifices to your work life balance, as well as potentially battling with Imposter Syndrome. Therefore, it’s important to recognise the signs of burnout and keep a check on your physical and mental health. Scheduling in time to rest and giving yourself permission to take breaks will ultimately help you to succeed.
- Grants and funding
Once you have identified your business case and written your Business Plan, it’s important to start looking at how you will fund your business. A number of grants and loans are available to help you get started and grow your business. Support is also available on how to identify the correct funding, and what to do once you’ve applied, as well as what to do once you’ve been approved, or rejected.
If you’re currently on furlough, facing redundancy or have been made redundant, or simply want to start up or grow your business in North and East Bristol, you can access free business support – find out more here or get in touch with the team to tell us about your business plans by emailing us here