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Starting your own business - live webchat with Robert Ashton Weds 20 June 1-2pm

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CariGransnet (GNHQ) Thu 07-Jun-12 16:55:50

You may have seen our taster course on setting up your own enterprise - and we are delighted that expert Robert Ashton will be coming along to GNHQ so you can find out more about this and ask any other questions you may have about starting and running a business.

Robert, best known as "the barefoot entrepreneur" has set up and sold many businesses, written 12 books and started a successful charity.

So whether you'd like to know how to set up an empire - or run a cottage industry from your front room, he'll be able to tell you how to get going.

ChrisMW Thu 07-Jun-12 17:59:34

Message deleted by Gransnet.

JosieGransnet (GNHQ) Fri 08-Jun-12 09:47:54

Great news - Pearson are giving away three courses on Starting Your Own Business on this thread.

If you post a question for Robert you could win the whole Starting Your Own Business course on Pearson's Love To Learn. We'll pick three questions at random to win.

RobertAshton Sat 09-Jun-12 09:38:17

Come on folks, I'm really looking forward to the online webchat on 20th June - especially the lovely Gransnet sandwiches I've been promised. But seriously, you know starting your own business is not just for the young.

I know many people who ditched the day job, the unreasonable boss and all the hassle of commuting to do exactly what they want, with people they like, when it suits them.

In fact even pensioners are starting businesses now . . . . . . so it really is never too late!

I'll try to answer any urgent questions here, and the rest live on the day - looking forward to it!

More stuff on my website www.robertashton.co.uk

whenim64 Sat 09-Jun-12 10:26:25

I'd be interested to know more about turning a hobby or interest into a business, without it running away with me. I've seen so many people who have started selling things like cupcakes, craft jellery or hair ornaments, but the tail has ended up wagging the dog - they get stressed and feel they have to expand to keep competitive. A manageable part-time job from home would be ideal, so what are the strategies for keeping it just that? Thanks.

ChrisMW Sun 10-Jun-12 13:11:00

I registered my new business as a Limited Company to protect the name and have left it dormant while I operate as a sole trader. My business is a consultancy for older people and their relatives who do not have access to social services. I want to become a Social Enterprise because Social Services and the NHS won't do business with a private company. Does this sound worth doing and what are the first steps I need to take?

bikergran Mon 11-Jun-12 09:59:04

A business via a website would be ideal for me (perhaps not right at this moment) any tips on building or producing a web site without it looking like my 5 yr old grandson had put it together? thanks Sue

gillybob Sat 16-Jun-12 10:00:07

Hi Robert. My husband and I have had our own business for around 20 years. Recently due to economic downturn (and successive governments not supporting small manufacturing businesses ) things have gotten so bad that we no longer have a life outside of work. We are both either at work (at work) or at work (at home) if you understand what I mean. We are struggling financially and have quite literally put everything we have into keeping going as we have people relying on us for their jobs. I really miss having a "life" and a weekend away or dare I say a holiday would be impossible. How can we get our life back? Do you make sure people fully understand the serious pitfalls of running their own business before they go into it? I would seriously never encourage my children to have their own businesses and given how they see us I doubt by ever will. Sorry I know this thread was about starting a business but I thought it was relevant to point out that it isn't always a bed of roses.

rosiemus Mon 18-Jun-12 20:08:58

I enjoy baking celebration cakes for family and friends and they have gone down so well that I've been asked on numerous occasions to bake them for other people who are happy to pay. I'm thinking (after several requests) about making this a regular thing.But, if it's ok, I have two questions. Firstly - I never know what to charge. Obviously I cover the cost of ingredients etc but am not sure what I should charge for my time etc. Secondly if I continue to do this as an ad hoc thing do I need to set up a company or anything or can I continue to do it more informally? Oh (sorry - three questions) - and if I am only charging for ingredients at cost and therefore not making anything do I need to declare this as income? I assume I do if I start adding my time onto the cost. Very many thanks

kittyp Mon 18-Jun-12 20:32:27

Hello Robert

I work two days a week (as an employee) and am thinking of using some of my spare time to start a small business from home. But what will happen to me in terms of tax if I am PAYE for work and self employed the rest of the time? It's been putting me off getting going. Many thanks

FeeTee Mon 18-Jun-12 20:34:07

Hoping you can settle an argument a discussion I have been having with a friend. How important is social media these days when it comes to setting up a business. I can't be doing with twitter

effblinder Tue 19-Jun-12 10:26:20

I can see that lots of things in my life would be improved if I could work for myself, and I think I'd be good at it.

I would be worried about the legal and accountancy issues - is this something that is a lot of work? Legally, what would an absolute starter need to start selling?

flopsybunny Tue 19-Jun-12 13:56:43

Hi Robert,

I would really like to reinvent myself and also do something useful and I think I have lots of energy and enthusiasm - but I struggle with finding the killer idea.

Can you give me a sense of how to think of the right business? All the advice I read assumes that you've already got a fantastic business idea.

northerngran Tue 19-Jun-12 14:14:05

I'm interested to know what proportion of small businesses fail within the first year? And what tips you have for making sure that mine wouldn't grin

marthamuffin Tue 19-Jun-12 14:17:32

Hello Robert

Can you tell me - how important is it to have a business plan and where do you start with one?

Thank you

Martha

buspass Tue 19-Jun-12 14:20:09

I have an idea for a small business. What steps can I take to stop someone else copying it?

FeeTee Tue 19-Jun-12 14:25:31

Am I allowed another???

If so - how important is the name of your business? Any tips?

praxis Tue 19-Jun-12 16:22:35

My friends think my biz idea is brilliant, but they're probably just being kind! What's the best - and simplest - way to test out whether there really is a market? Any advice gratefully received!

Grannyruth Tue 19-Jun-12 16:28:04

My ambition is to set up a business making simple crafts - mosaics, rag-rugs etc - using the skills of homeless and unemployed people I've met through a local project. Is this totally unrealistic and idealistic? Would it be best to get the business started (in a modest way) before involving other people?

distaffgran Wed 20-Jun-12 08:37:41

Sorry, thought I was going to be around for this later but now realise I'm not, so I shall ask my question now....is now really a good time to be starting a business? We keep hearing stories about banks not lending.

And, related to this - I have what I think is a brilliant idea but it is quite capital intensive. What would be the best sources of investment to look into?

sofasogood Wed 20-Jun-12 08:40:35

I am ashamed to say I have never seen a business plan. What are the rules for writing one? Is it always necessary to have one, even if you're not looking for investment at the outset - and what information needs to be in there?

CariGransnet (GNHQ) Wed 20-Jun-12 13:00:28

Robert is here and ready to answer your questions...so welcome Robert and over to you!

RobertAshton Wed 20-Jun-12 13:06:15

rosiemus

I enjoy baking celebration cakes for family and friends and they have gone down so well that I've been asked on numerous occasions to bake them for other people who are happy to pay. I'm thinking (after several requests) about making this a regular thing.But, if it's ok, I have two questions. Firstly - I never know what to charge. Obviously I cover the cost of ingredients etc but am not sure what I should charge for my time etc. Secondly if I continue to do this as an ad hoc thing do I need to set up a company or anything or can I continue to do it more informally? Oh (sorry - three questions) - and if I am only charging for ingredients at cost and therefore not making anything do I need to declare this as income? I assume I do if I start adding my time onto the cost. Very many thanks

The first question is easy to answer, all you have to do is go shopping! Go looking for your cakes in shops and see what other people are charging for them, then see how yours are different, add in for the convenience of you delivering or people collecting from you and pitch your price.

The second question is about when to set up a company. The answer depends on if you have other income. So you probably don't need to do anything involving tax or companies until you are earning more than the basic personal tax allowance. Even then, you can be self-employed, which just means keeping records and filling in a tax return each year. Best advice: take one step at a time.

RobertAshton Wed 20-Jun-12 13:08:24

praxis

My friends think my biz idea is brilliant, but they're probably just being kind! What's the best - and simplest - way to test out whether there really is a market? Any advice gratefully received!

The best way is by networking. Your friends are supportive but perhaps would be embarrassed if you tried to sell to them, so get your friends to introduce you to their friends and try to sell your business idea to them. If they say yes, you have a business and if they say no, you need to find out more before being sure it's going to work.

There is no substitute for talking to the people who would be your customers, you have to give them what they want to buy at a price they are willing to pay. It is that simple!

sneetch Wed 20-Jun-12 13:08:46

I have been thinking about setting up a consultancy in the field I've worked in all my life. What is the best structure for this? - Is a limited company better than a sole trader? Would I be better off sharing the risks etc with a business partner? Thanks

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