How to start your own business - Kent young entrepreneurs
PUBLISHED: 15:36 22 February 2012 | UPDATED: 21:04 20 February 2013
We've all imagined what it would be like to run our own business, but turning those thoughts into reality is a different matter. Meet four local residents who prove that even in a recession, you can still make those dreams come true
Kent young entrepreneurs
Weve probably all imagined what it would be like to run our own business, but turning those thoughts into reality is a tricky process, one not helped by the current economic climate. But take heart from these five local residents, who prove that even in a recession, theres still the chance to make those business dreams come true
The Greedy Book
How many times has someone asked you what you want for your birthday or Christmas and youve struggled to think of something and so have just given them the first thing thats popped into your head? Or how many times has someone bought you something and its been a gift that you either dislike or cant really use?
Charlie Cottrells answer to these problems is The Greedy Book, a permanent online list upon which you can write things that youd like. Friends and family members can then go online and look at it and decide what they would like to buy you. the greedy book is a temple built to let your unique cravings flourish, bloom and thrive. by filling a greedy book you are sharing your deepest desires and making sure that next time an occasion like your birthday, valentines day or christmas comes round you will get exactly what you want. cram your books to bursting with your most creative wishes by pulling them directly off the internet, by snooping around your friends books or flicking between the most popular items on the site.
it is so simple your granny can use it, which is lucky because you should send her the link to your book to get you that 1920s cut glass atomiser instead of some taupe thermal underwear this year. the world is your greedy oyster so sign up for free today and start feeding the greed.By filling in a greedy book you are sharing your deepest desires and making sure that next time an occasion like your birthday, Valentines Day or Christmas comes round you will get exactly what you want.
My sister Millie and I got the idea for this from our own family, says Charlie, who lives in Cahllock. For years weve had a real greedy book of our own, a hard copy if you like, in which family members have written down ideas they would like for presents off other people in the family. We have always dreamed of going into business together and this seemed like the perfect idea.
Charlie feels that the great appeal of The Greedy Book lies in its simplicity. Our site is so user friendly that your granny could use it, and carries no advertising. Its simple, uncluttered and easy to use. Thats one of the reasons why since we launched it earlier this year we have had such a good response.
Charlies Top Tips
1 There is so much free support online and at events, you just need to spend some time looking. We've found smarta.com incredibly useful. Its a website that offers free support for start-ups, lots of brilliant tools such as example business plans, mentor matching, etc.
2 Network, network, network. Don't be shy, call anyone you think could help you, or might be interested in your business.
3 Surround yourself by trusted experts in all the different areas which impact your business, dont expect to learn everything yourself, you cant be the expert in everything. Someone gave us this advice when we first started and its been invaluable over and over again.
Masseur, Pilates instructor and personal trainer
Like many people, a few years ago Tonbridge-based Ricardo Rampat was struck down by the curse of chronic back pain. But for Ricardo it turned out to be one of the best things that ever thappened to him.
The osteopath Id been seeing recommended that I go and start doing Pilates to improve my posture and back strength. I was sceptical but thought Id give it a go as Id tried everything else. The results were wonderful. Pilates completely resolved my back problems, he says.
But more than that, I got to thinking as I was exercising that this was probably something I could teach to other people. I believed in the positive effects that Pilates could have and it didnt seem too difficult a system to learn. So thats what I did. There were some courses at a local gym that I enrolled on and eventually I became a qualified Pilates teacher.
At the same time he also took courses in massage skills, which meant that he could offer different varieties of massage, such as deep tissue and those required for sports injuries.
Armed with this training, Ricardo set up on his own four years ago as a Pilates teacher and masseur.
This was just as the recession was beginning and so it was a difficult time. But despite this, Ive worked hard at the business and its really come along over the last few years to the point where I now run around 14 classes during the course of each week.
Ive also added personal training to what I offer and demand for this has grown well too. I work with people to help them lose weight, improve their levels of fitness and develop a healthier approach to exercise, which is something that I find very rewarding.
Its been a challenging time but Im doing a job that I love and helping people at the same time, which makes me feel very fortunate.
Rics Top Tips
1 Do what you enjoy if you are starting up a business, do something you love as you are about to put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into it.
2 You need to be outgoing and confidentin order to sell your service/business and to network. You need to be proud of your business
3 Get the legal, tax issues and insurance sorted out asap.You need to do this to be legal and to operate accordingly.
Like many an employee, Kate Husdon from Hildenborough was tired of having someone else enjoy the benefits of her labours.
When it comes to work, Im one of those people who always put in lots of effort and energy, which is what I have been doing since I left Art College, she says.
Over time its struck me that this energy and desire to work could be put into my own business and then it would be me and not someone else reaping the benefits of my efforts.
Looking around for an idea that she could turn into a business Kate thought about working with images and photographs.
Ive got a background in art and via my work in marketing since leaving college I have also gained experience with photography and presentation. So art and images in one form or another have been part of my life for more than a decade.
The idea of working with peoples photos arose from the fact that friends and family have always came to me when they needed photos tweaking. I seem to have a talent for it.
At Canvas Hero customers send Kate a picture which she then transfers onto a large canvas. Kate uses high-quality canvas and high quality bars, something that other firms often charge more for.
Quality is an integral part of our appeal to customers, our unique selling point if you like says Kate.
Although this business is still in its early days (she has only recently left her last job), Kate is feeling confident about the prospects of Canvas Hero
Ive had a good response to the website and Im confident that Canvas Hero will succeed. Its nice to finally be working for myself and Im very excited about the future.
Kates Top Tips
1 Do your research research your competitors, can you offer something different, can you better their service?
2 Funding - if possible, self-fund your business venture as you will not feel the stresses of having to meet loan repayments.
3 Stay organised not only in your finances, but in everything from file structures on your PCs to clutter in your office/ desk! At the end of the day a clear desk equals a clear mind.
Over in Broadstairs, back in 2008 Craig Harrison spotted a gap in the market. I noted that there was an opportunity to create a range of multi-parameter, water-quality test equipment for groundwater and surface water field use - modern, reliable, well-designed meters and probes specifically designed for the accurate recording of data on site. And thats how Aquaread came to life, he explains.
With his background in the aerospace industry Craig was able to bring in senior design engineers and managers he knew of. These were joined by similar people from the marine industries and leading scientists working in the pharmaceuticals industry.
Together they were able to develop and manufacture a range of highly advanced analytical and process equipment for both laboratory and field use.
Although there were very few competitors and what they were selling seemed to be overpriced, Aquaread were still up against some big German and US manufacturers. But despite this, Craig felt confident that the business would be a success.
I thought that the products would sell themselves. Within our industry the principles and methodologies are well known, but what we were offering was cutting edge technology, innovation and simplicity; a perfect combination. And it worked.
We took on those bigger companies and won. The business is doing well and growing all the time. We are exporting all over the world at the moment and hope to grow further in the future.
For Craig, seizing that gap in the market has been a decision he has never regretted. Ive always wanted to run a business from a young age, the drive was always there. Its been hard work and at times quite stressful but equally its also been a really interesting, rewarding and at times an exciting experience and the decision to go into business myself is one that Im very glad I decided to take.
Craigs Top Tips
1 Have a clear and realistic business plan from day one and keep it current. Plans are built on projections so keeping it up to date will benchmark your initial projections.
2 Keep your fingers on the pulse regarding cash flow on a weekly basis. Any potential problems can then be identified and rectified before its too late.
3 Only use suppliers you can trust and rely on.