Be your own boss
Self employment has always been a career option for graduates, particularly in the marketing, IT, catering, engineering and leisure industries. Many graduates also decide to get a job in industry for a few years to gain experience before setting up on their own.
Being your own boss has many advantages. You can work autonomously and independently by choosing your own working hours. This also allows greater flexibility. You are also in control of the direction your business takes and you can develop and use the skills you have.
On the other hand, you will need to develop many new skills: you need to consider all elements of the business such as book-keeping, collecting debts, marketing, and filing tax returns. You may also have to take on a substantial financial risk and may need to raise a loan to cover initial set-up costs. Depending on how much or little work you can line up, you may find that your cash flow varies considerably. You are not making any money if you are not working, so taking holidays may be challenging.
Do you have what it takes?
Before you begin investing in a new business it is very important to look at yourself and understand your strengths and weaknesses. It will help to think about the following questions:
- Do I work well under pressure?
- Would I be a good manager?
- Do I have sufficient accountancy skills to complete my annual returns?
- What support is available to me?
- Can I sell my product or service?
- Do I understand the basic principles of marketing?
About your customers
- What makes my product or service unique?
- Do I know what market I am targeting?
- Do I understand the demographics of my market?
- What advertising strategy will I implement (eg advertise in local press, build up contacts in the trade, employ a sales person or develop a website)?
- What competitors do I have?
About your business
- What premises will I work from?
- Will I need to recruit others to assist in my enterprise?
- What finance do I need to get the enterprise up and running?
- Do I need to borrow?
Completing a business plan will also help you to highlight areas that you need to consider.
It would also be beneficial to speak to relevant agencies such as Enterprise Ireland, Enterprise Boards and LEADER Partnerships (Republic of Ireland) or Enterprise Northern Ireland Prince's Trust, Management and Leadership Network and Prime Initiative (Northern Ireland).
The practicalities of starting your own business
Republic of Ireland
- To register a business name: complete a Form RBNIB available from the Companies Registration Office.
- To register for tax: to register as a sole trader you should complete Form TR1 and to register for tax as a company you should complete Form TR2 from www.revenue.ie.
- To register a patent or trademark: complete a Form No1 available from the Irish Patents Office.
- To register a business name: The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment provides an online registry.
- To register for tax: visit the HM Revenue and Customs website.
- To register a patent or trademark: contact the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys.
- County & City Enterprise Boards Information covered includes getting started, finance, marketing, and developing a business plan.
- Invest Northern Ireland Support for start-up businesses in Northern Ireland.
- The Prince's Trust Support for young entrepreneurs in the UK.
- Start your own Business – A Workbook – Ron Immink and Brian O’Kane (Oaktree Press)