Eimear Hutchinson: Here's what I learned setting up my own business

Now could be the ideal time to start up your own business, says EIMEAR HUTCHINSON, who goes though some of the steps you will need to take
Eimear Hutchinson: Here's what I learned setting up my own business

MAKE IT WORK: Setting up your own business requires lots of planning and thought, but it is possible — thousands do it! Picture posed by model

I HAVE been at home with my four ladies now for the past five years, and for the last three years I have been tipping along, making a little income from my social media platforms, working with brands to create content.

It has always been at the back of mind that I would love to set up my own little business selling something that I made, but at the same time I was a great woman for coming up with excuses to not start — we don’t have the space or I don’t have the time.

However, I am exceptionally impulsive person so last week I got a notion and finally threw myself head first into starting up my own small business.

I thought it might be useful to go through the steps you need to go through before you start selling your wares. There are a lot of people out there that may have lost jobs and might want to see this period of time as an opportunity to start something they have always wanted to do. Now, more than ever, we are all supporting each other, so if you are brewing an idea for a business now could be your time.

First things first, you need to decide the type of company you want to start — are you going to be a sole trader or set up a limited company?

It is probably best to get advice from an accountant or a solicitor on this as it will differ from business to business. I set up my business as a sole trader, that is generally what most small businesses at least start out as, so for the rest of this article the information is mainly related to sole traders.

You need to register your business name with the Companies Registration Office Ireland, if you are using your own name as your business name, you don’t necessarily need to register your name as a business name but it is no harm to either. Going forward, if you wanted to look for grants for your business it will make it easier. It costs €20 to register your business name.

If you are selling anything to the public, you need insurance. Again, it is best to speak to an insurer and get advice from them as to what type of cover you need. For me, selling personalised jumpers online from my home, I only needed Product Liability Insurance as I won’t be having anyone to my house or going out to sell them anywhere physically.

There was a bit of over and back to make sure every eventuality was covered and in the end it worked out at €130 for the year.

You will need to set yourself up with Revenue and for the first year at least, if not more, depending on how complex your incomings and outgoings are, you would be better off getting the help of an accountant. It is so important and will make life much easier for yourself to separate out your business finances from your personal finances.

Make sure to keep receipts and it is a good idea to have a spread sheet running with all the money you spend and update it regularly. You need to do it anyway, to keep track of how your business is doing to ensure it makes financial sense. You will have to register with Revenue and file your tax returns by the end of October of the following year (so, for example, I file 2019 tax returns in 2020) so make sure to set aside plenty of money to cover the bill.

If you are going to sell online, choosing a platform is the next thing you will need to do —many small business sell exclusively through Facebook but personally I find it easier and cleaner to have a separate website and purchasing platform. I use Shopify, it was easy to set up (took about a week to get verified) and the platform itself, both on desktop and the app, is very easy to use. Watch out for charges, I pay around $35 a month to use the platform but there are still charges on each transaction which work out overall about 10% of the purchase price of your product.

You need to figure out how you are going to get our product to your customer. I don’t have a massive volume of products going out and they are not large or heavy so I use An Post — there is a post office in the village I live in so it is very handy for me to access.

The type of delivery service you use will probably depend on the size and weight of the product you use, so shop around for the best deal and also the option that makes life as easy and efficient as possible for you too!

I really hope this article might serve as a sign to those of you who are stewing over an idea but might not have the time to figure out where to start it all. Believe in yourself and whatever it is you want to sell, work hard, and they say if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.

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