Last year, I finally took the plunge and registered as self-employed. I technically now own a business, even if it is just me sitting at my desk or on the sofa! I’m really lucky that my line of work doesn’t incur much in the ways of overheads – I pay my hosting fees, internet, a few programs which help me to work more productively and the odd bit of stationery, but for some businesses, the costs when starting up can be incredibly high.
A few years ago, Graham, who is a carpet fitter, decided he was going to start up his own business. At the time, we didn’t have any responsibilities, but we were pretty naive, and in all honesty, it didn’t quite work out. We thought it would just be a case of him buying a second-hand van and a few tools. Boy, were we wrong! There was so much more to think about, and whilst it didn’t work out, it was a valuable learning experience for us both, and if the opportunity ever arises again, we know what to do.
One of the biggest issues he faced was storage space. Carpets are not small, and they take up an awful lot of room. He would have to leave them in the back of the van, and drive around with them, which ended up costing him a fortune in diesel, and was a pain in the backside. If he were to do it again, he would look at renting space in a local warehouse, and purchasing proper carpet racking from somewhere like Warehouse Storage Solutions Limited. Although it is a big outlay to begin with, in the long term it would be safer, more secure and would save money. He would be able to purchase carpet and vinyl in bulk, rather than a roll or two at a time, which works out really expensive.
Another thing he fell flat on was advertising. This was a fair few years ago now before social media became such a big thing. He made a few leaflets and put them through doors in the local area, but let’s face it, who looks at those? If he were doing it again, he would set up accounts on social media and have a van sign written, so people actually know who he is and what he does!!
Hopefully, in the next few years, we will be in the position where Graham can look at resurrecting his carpet business, in a much more organised and profitable way!