Could this be the time to start your own business?
I've noticed that lots of us are ready for a new challenge as we approach our mid to late 40s - maybe this is a by-product of perimenopause? Chatting to women around my age over the past year I've noticed a new energy and drive to take things on with a different and wiser attitude than before.
Starting A Business
The New Year offers us an opportunity to look at things from a new perspective. Sometimes the change in rhythm over the Christmas break can open us up to fresh thinking.
Maybe, this January, you are in the mood to try something new? It could be salsa dancing, bread baking or ways to improve your work/life balance…… For many of us running our own business can be a way to make sure that work is fulfilling and enjoyable rather than a just a drudge and a means to an end. Perhaps, like me, you’ve spent many years as a full-time mum but with children growing up and becoming more independent, you are ready for a new challenge?
My own business??
Have you ever considered running your own business? Are in need of a new challenge? Are you bored or fed up working for others? Have you noticed a gap in the market – a need of yours that is not being well met? Where to start? You may have tons of ideas but lack the structure and know-how to put them into action.
I found myself in that position this time last year and I’m going to outline to you my route map to getting this website going. There are, of course, plenty of ways to skin a cat but some of the following details may be useful to you or others who find themselves wondering where to start.
Step 1: Dublin City Enterprise Board
O'Connell Bridge House, D'Olier St, Dublin 2
Phone:(01) 635 1144
My first stop was the Dublin City Enterprise Board website, there are 35 City Enterprise Boards (CEBs) which provide support for small businesses. They offer training, mentoring and financial support. The Dublin City Enterprise Board’s website is very easy to navigate with lots of courses on offer. The course that caught my eye (My brilliant, enterprising, sure to be a millionaire this year, friend Breffnie had sung its praises) was Mompreneurs - a one morning workshop to be held in Buswells. The date was fast approaching so I jumped at it and booked myself in. This was already a walk on the wild side! It was a long time since I was at a badge-wearing kind of event.
I’ve just checked and the next Mompreneurs course is on 19th February 2014 so book in if you can! At only €10, you’ve nothing to lose.
Step 2: Mompreneurs Course, Buswells Hotel, Molesworth St., Dublin 2 February 2013
A very useful morning spent with a group of women in Buswells Hotel. The course was given by Aine Murphy, who provided us with a wealth of information on starting you own business.
There were around 20 women seated in the room and each of us starting by explaining our motivation for being there. We were a varied group at different stages of idea development. The positives from the course were:
A very detailed handout with information and contact details for a wide range of expertise and support available to anyone thinking of starting a business.
The opportunity to have a concentrated think through the practical considerations of working for yourself, probably from home in the initial stages at least.
Aine Murphy was inspirational and practical, providing us with a huge variety of information. This ranged from her thoughts on the potential of on-line business, to helping us tease out the nuance of our own ideas and giving us contact details for the cheapest and best courier services around Ireland!
It was brilliant to be in a room full of like-minded women all considering their next moves. As often happens, the casual conversations during the coffee break provided me with some crucial information. For example, one woman suggested that my proposed website must have a blog, while another assured me that affiliate marketing was the way forward. None of this meant a lot to me this time last year but they have proven to be golden guiding nuggets.
Duration: 0ne morning
Step 3: DCEB Start Your Own Business Course
National College of Ireland, Docklands, Dublin
Fired up with enthusiasm by Mompreneurs, my next move was to do a Start Your Own Business Course, again with DCEB. While I found this course a bit dry it was a very useful reminder of the paperwork involved in running a business. Once again there was tons of practical advice about:
- How to write a business plan including, SWOT analysis, PEST analysis
- Marketing and Product development
- The technical stuff: the need to be VAT registered, filing of return, information about taxable expenses, cashflow analysis etc etc.
- Social Media and digital marketing.
Duration: 2 nights a week for 6 weeks as well as optional 3 sessions with a business mentor and a 6 week follow-up Business Network Course, a more informal and very useful set of meetings.
Having done the start your own business course you are entitled to 3 free mentoring sessions. DCEB provide you with an intitial meeting and then assign you to a mentor whom they deem to have good insight into your chosen business field. Mentors are experienced, successful business people and most of their work is voluntary. The 3 sessions with my mentor Vince Hutchinson gave me specific goals to achieve before each next meeting. He listened, poked and prodded me into action! Very useful. I’m still on the journey to discover how my website moves to becoming monetized. Delighted to say that I have made my first dollar – we all have start somewhere!
The Business Network
Buswells Hotel, Molesworth St., Dublin 2 6.30 – 9pm Tuesday evenings
The Business Network provides practical help and support to all those who have completed the Start Your Own Business programme.
The network was a very good supplement to the SYOB as the Director Bill Phelan allowed the group to set the agenda and tackle the issues that were most important to us. Each session was broken down into 2 parts and we worked in smaller groups for half the time each evening.
Step 4: Diploma in Digital Marketing, European Institute of Communications
Pembroke Road, Dublin 4
This was probably the most useful course that I did because it opened up the world of Social Media to me. The course was one night a week for eight weeks. I went in a total novice and learned a huge amount.
Ciamh McCrory who presented the course is a human dynamo and a mine of information. The first part of the course outlined in detail the different social media platforms and their role and relevance. We then covered such topics as Facebook competition regulation, the value of Twitter, how to maximize SEO and how to decide which social media platforms are the most relevant and useful to your business. The course was vital in helping me map the course of the website and how it should be structured.
This course is a must for all of us, if only to bring you up to speed with what your children and the media pundits around us are talking about!
Duration: one night a week for 8 weeks of lectures (plus an optional 6 weeks to complete a 12-month marketing strategy)
Cost: €595 (Tell Eugene Grey I sent you and he'll give you a discount. Use the code MSS to get a €50 discount.)
So……………What are you waiting for? Take the plunge - it’s fun!!
Please report back on any adventures and new beginnings you experience this year. I'm getting great feedback from Second Springers on being inspired to get going on blogging, put their full mind to projects that have being lying dormant, others are considering self-publishing and of course many of you are planning fab family dinners, published on kitchen blackboards.
Have a great 2014 - I feel it's going to be a productive one!
Photo by Iseult O'Brien