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27 Oct 2016
Yesterday the first crop of entrepeneurs graduated from Far North REAP’s “Start Up” programme. The course was devised to help those who were interested in starting their own small business and just didn’t know where to start. It was the brainchild of the Community Education Team. They had been approached by a number of people asking where to get help starting their businesses and realised there was no one-stop-shop where they could get all the necessary information.
So Far North REAP took on the mantle, and devised a series of workshops to provide the tools to give an insight to the budding entrepreneur.
The very first lesson for the eager group was to explain that running your own business isn’t the easy option. People believe there is a a lot of freedom running your own business. This may be true in some cases, but in the majority you need to work when your customers need your products or services. You cannnot just decide to take the day off when you feel like it. It’s a simple equation: if you don’t work you don’t get paid.
One of the main themes running through the whole programme is the passion you need for your business. You will work many hours on your business. Not only the bits the customers and public see, but the late evenings bringing your paperwork up to date, devising new ideas for products or services, thinking of ways of increasing your customer base or turnover from each customer. You will invest a lot of time and energy into your business so you need to love what you are doing.
The workshop was designed to be as practical and interactive as possible. For this reason the number of delegates was restricted to just eight people. This ensured that the tutor and facilitator had the opportunity to work one-to-one with each of the attendees.
As is typical for new projects or ideas, there was very limited funding to get this course off the ground. Far North REAP and the course facilitator, Jodi Betts, were keen to make the course as useful as possible. They used their contacts in the local business community to get experts in the different aspects of a business start up. Stuart Thompson from Live Wire Media gave an insight into the world of advertising, marketing and the rapidly changing world of social media. He helped the future business owners to devise a marketing plan, explained the difference between advertising and marketing and gave guidelines as to how much money should be invested in marketing.
I had the pleasure of taking the group through the basics of tax, GST and preparing a cashflow forecast. The key measure I had for the group was that in a start up situation CASH IS KING. You need to know your breakeven point, which is the level of income required to cover costs. This sounds basic, but it is surprising how many businesses do not know their breakeven point. Many great businesses, products or ideas fail due to the lack of cash. Don’t let your business be one of them.
Jodi Betts of Far North REAP ran the remaining sessions and ensured that everyone completed their business plan which would become the roadmap for the start of their business.
One of the main advantages with a small group was that the workshops were able to flex with the individual needs of the attendees. The workshops could target specific requirements of the individuals, and therefore ensure they received maximum value from the workshop.
Finally I would like to thank Far North REAP and Jodi Betts for the opportunity to work with this crop of new business owners. Good luck to all of you who completed the workshops. Remember to revisit and update your business plan. It should be a living document that updates with you and your business.
For information of further courses, please contact Far North REAP. Any questions regarding forecasting and cashflows, contact me, Stewart Russell at PKF Francis Aickin – we offer an initial free half-hour consultation.
For more information on how we can help your business, get in touch