Sally Champion continues her weekly blog about the process of setting up a part-time business as a writer. She had polio as a child and after years of working nine to five, she is now having to think differently about how to earn her living. Sally invites your comment and advice.
Episode 9: “Making plans”
I have just finished the first week of the Be Your Own Boss course run by the Capital Development Agency. The course is for people wanting to start a business and it’s funded by Work and Income.
Over the last week we looked at defining goals, products and services, business structure and the business environment. We did a SWOT analysis of our strengths, weaknesses, the opportunities and threats for our business and talked about market research. Risks and contingency planning were discussed as well as compliancy issues and marketing.
What a relief to be back among people again and to feel the cogs in my brain engaging with the information and surrounding chit chat.
Much of the information covered wasn’t new to me, but, as the week unfolded, I managed to make that crucial leap from passively listening to actively wrestling with the ideas and applying them to my own business plan.
We’re being taught how to write a business plan. After the course finishes everyone has six weeks to complete their plan then it’s evaluated by a woman from the Chamber of Commerce. If she thinks it’s viable the plan is sent onto Work and Income for final approval before the Enterprise Allowance is granted.
We were told that doing a thorough business plan is a great way to see if a business is going to make money. With my personal “energy saving” take on the world that seems sensible. If it turns out to be a metaphorical dog on paper at least you could abandon your idea at that point. Living it out wouldn’t be compulsory.
If your plan is considered viable, the Enterprise Allowance (or Flexi-wage) provides $5000 for any capital expenditure necessary to start the business and another $5000 to cover living costs for six months. On top of the $5000 any money earned by the business can be kept.
Fifteen people are doing the course and it’s fascinating to hear their ideas. I wish I could describe everyone to you and what they are planning to do. I can’t though, we all signed a confidentiality agreement.
Being with a group like this makes me realise how much I love people (generally). I love their ingenious ideas, their enthusiasm and I love hearing about their areas of expertise. Even with only fifteen of us the range of industries represented is very broad.
Next week (the last week of the course) we look at the financial aspects of running a business – tax, cash flow, etc.
I fear I may not be so keen on the second week although it’s where – looking at my SWOT analysis – I need to put a lot of energy.
Sally is happy to answer questions from readers about the course and to hear any feedback they may have about the efficacy of the business planning process.