Step Three – Business Plan

The first few days of May have been quite busy, between having paint on my hands, a few hours on the iMac and a lot of note taking, Googling and brainstorming. And that’s only in my own free time. I’m not sure how I manage to fit in the daily chores like going to work full time, gym three times a week and cook.

The studio is looking more ‘worked in’ after doing some unpacking, audit of my crafty bits, putting things into place and working on a few projects. It will never be a tidy studio as I prefer working in an environment with organised mess. I just have to make sure that there’s not going to be any arguments between my iMac, sewing machine and paint brushes.

Organised mess
Organised mess

The last week was broken down to three activities:

Hobby painting: I finally finished my Holiday destination sign post project and it now sits proudly in our garden. Can’t wait to have friends and family over to see it in future BBQs and get togethers.

First Wedding Stationery Commission: I met up with my first ‘client’ (who’s actually a friend) after a few emails and text messages to discuss the final draft and mockup of her destination wedding invitations. I’m not sure who most most excited – my friend was over the moon with the mockups and I can’t wait to assemble the invitations. So, I finally sent the artwork to the printers and ordered the pocketfold card, envelopes and ribbon.

Blog on this project will pop up in the next few weeks – I don’t want to give away too much at this stage. All part of client confidentiality.

It was good to get back in touch with suppliers I used for my own wedding stationery and placing orders with them. They were quite excited about my new sideline (and hopefully to get more business out of me).

Business Development: Finally, I plucked up the courage and booked myself onto a Business Wales Workshop on ‘Starting a Business – Taking the Plunge’ in Cardiff Bay and attended that this week.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this workshop – was it going to be a university lecture style workshop, full of business jargon? Who else would be attending the session? Is there going to be any group work involved? How much open discussion will there be? Will there be any biscuits?

It wasn’t as daunting as I thought it would be – they had biscuits and plenty of tea and coffee. Looking back now, I’m not sure why I was worried attending the workshop. Silly me! It’s was fairly informal and relaxed, the presenter was down to earth and it wasn’t ‘death by Powerpoint’. The handouts were written in plain English and of excellent quality (not shabby photocopies or rushed printouts) and most importantly our business ideas were not judged at all. There were some pretty good business ideas in the room.

The audience varied from graduates, professionals with 20+ years experience, mumtrepreneurs and a young twenty something bright spark. There was one thing most of the group had in common – they had been made redundant in the last few weeks and looking for guidance on setting up their own business. I was probably the only one there considering to give up their well-paid, full time job to start their own business.

I found the morning workshop very useful and I’m glad I took time out from work to do some personal development. I came out of the session feeling reassured with what I already knew about setting up a business and I had a little confidence boost too. This was the first time since starting my sideline, I thought to myself that MB|LD Design could become something more.

I’m not at a stage to quit my day job yet – the workshop also highlighted there are areas I need to further research like income tax and budgeting, business bank accounts and charges, using a book keeper/accountant, how working from home can affect our mortgage and council tax. And most importantly – a business plan for MB | LD Design.

I want to do things right, make sure my sideline will be set up properly, ensure its something I can sustain for 20 hours a week and become a success in the first year of trading and beyond. That last thing I want to do is land up in debt, put our home at risk and getting chased by the tax man.

So the next few weeks are going to be busy, mostly with researching, doing some sums and putting together a draft business plan. Maybe some drawing and sketching too.

It’s a good job that Business Wales gave out this handy little work book to help me on my way!

 

Taking the Plunge - Workbook from Business Wales
Taking the Plunge – Workbook from Business Wales

Overall, I am very impressed with Business Wales services and support. I can’t get over the fact that they put on so many  workshops to help anyone in Wales to set up and become a successful business (this was number one of 16!). It’s not exclusively to Cardiff – they hold workshops all over Wales on a regular basis. Just have a look at their online events calendar. I will be attending more workshops when the time is right for the next step.

Also, I was shocked to hear how much grants and loans that are available for new businesses in Wales. A list of all available grants and loans are listed on the Business Wales Finance Locator. On first look, I couldn’t find any grant that I may be eligible for and I don’t particularly want to apply for a loan, but there’s a lot of financial support available out there.

If you are like me, considering starting up your own sideline or turn a hobby into a business, don’t hesitate to have a look what free services Business Wales has to offer and apply for all of those grants and loans – before the Welsh Government pulls the plug on Business Wales. There is a lot of support available out there in Wales.

While I was on a ‘enthusiastic high’ after the workshop (it lasted more than 24 hours), I took part in ‘Yr Awr Gymraeg‘ (The Welsh Hour) – every Wednesday night between 8pm and 9pm on Twitter.

Tweeting in Welsh from the @manylion_bach Twitter handle, I wanted to test the water to see if there is any appetite for bilingual wedding stationery design service and most importantly, get MD | LD Design out there. It’s early days yet but I gained a few retweets and followers.

I did dive into #yagym slightly unprepared – I should have had photos of past wedding stationery ready to tweet but I managed to get two ‘pip olwg’ (sneaky peek) out onto Twitter in the last few minutes.

I’m not sure if I will get a mention or email from last night’s #yagym but it’s something I’ll definitely take part again. I will need to do a bit more work on my blog and build a ‘portfolio’ area, ready for the next #yagym.

I’ll leave you for now with some online articles which I found interesting in the last week. I’ve already tweeted them but if you missed them, here are the links:

A Nation of Part Time Entrepreneurs (Huffington Post)

Four things to think about when creating your digital marketing strategy (Business Wales)

What Blogging Platform is Right for Me? (CDF Blogs) 

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