What Works For You?

Part 3. Starting Your Own Business.

Before you can start building a Business Plan, you must, of course, have a definite idea of what your business is going to be.

I am astounded at the different reasons for which people come to me for help.

Some have a definite idea.

But you think you cannot move on, because you have no money, and how can you start without finance? This thought is fixed in your mind, and you believe you have no hope.

It’s not about the money (at first) – you should start from the very beginning. One step at a time. And see where it takes you.

Some seek help because for whatever reason, they cannot find a job.

You feel forced into thinking about starting your own business, and want to know how to go about it.

Wrong reason! You’ll never succeed if you’re full of negative thoughts… but even in this scenario, I can help you turn them around. While doing the exercise of researching for a business you think you might like to do, several clients have found suitable employment instead.

Others like the thought of having their own business

But they expect me to give them ideas of what might work.

You will have to help me, by finding the ideas which could work for you.


I love listening to people. Everyone is different, everyone has a story to tell, but…

Some people are easier to help than others.

Here are a few questions you could ask yourself:

  1. When you were young, just finished your education, with the world at your feet… given no barriers, what did you want to be?
  2. What are your hobbies? Music, sport, art, animals, figures, history, reading, walking – the list is endless. You are more likely to succeed, if you are passionate about what you are doing.
  3. What is your consuming desire in life? Don’t tell me it’s money. Tell me what you’d do with that money.

Lucky are those who can turn their hobby into a means of earning a living, and who love what they do.

You may have to compromise. You could look for a mundane job, possibly part-time, while you work on what you really want to do. You could find employment in the same field, which might lead to better things. At the very least, you will be lifted into positive thoughts and a pathway to follow.

There are several aids on the internet, which you can use to identify (or confirm) your strengths. On the National Careers Service website, there is a self-assessment test, called the Skills Health Check. They provide links for further exploration into suggested careers. You could also google “career assessment tools” and find one which suits you.


Some businesses start themselves.

o   I didn’t plan my first business, which was running a guest house in Kenya. I was a widow, with three small children. At first, I just found a couple of paying guests to help with the rent. Then I bought a larger property, and expanded. But I still had to go out part-time temping to make ends meet.

o   I wrote short stories and articles for local magazines and newspapers. I even had a newspaper column for two years. I had to be firm when it came to payment, and refused to continue if no cheque was forthcoming.

o   I started a riding school. I have been horse-mad all my life, and I taught at Pony Club. But it was necessary for the children’s ponies to earn their keep. I ended up providing regular lessons for children from two boarding schools. By insisting on down-payments at the beginning of every term, I eased the burden of paying my children’s education. In Kenya there was no State education.

Then I took a job. Being an expatriate without a work permit, I could only work for the diplomatic community. I ended up as a Personal Assistant, monitoring aid packages for the European Economic Community. A deadly job. The only way out I could think of was to gain a qualification acceptable to the Kenya Immigration authorities, and start my own business. So I did.

After four years of distance education, I ended up with an Australian B(Bus) degree majoring in End User Computing and Human Resource Management. Halfway through the course, I applied for a self-employed work permit as a Management Consultant, and succeeded. I gave in my notice to the EEC.

The professional nature of my work fortunately did not require initial funding (although I had invested over £4,000 in my education), and the only documentation I had to produce was a comprehensive statement to the Kenyan authorities justifying my intentions and outlining my services. A very mini plan.

In those days (the 1990’s), I had never heard of a business plan. But looking back, I guess I went through all the stages at one time or another. Most people with a burning desire to succeed will instinctively do the same, as I have found during my mentoring work.

Clients often ask me if I think their business will work. My answer is always the same.

“If you really want to succeed, then your business will prosper.”

Nowadays, a written Business Plan is necessary for you to gain credibility, and to give yourself a chance to obtain funding, if needed. Here in the UK, you have to tell the Inland Revenue what you expect to earn in the first year of trading. For this, you need a Plan!Regulations of countries differ, but the general principles of forming a Plan are the same.

I may appear to be waffling, but this preamble is necessary to set the scene. In the next section, we will get down to the serious business of drawing up a written Plan.

Meanwhile, if you wish to have a taste of what is in store for you, and experience in advance the importance and subtlety of marketing (which is the backbone of any business), I suggest you search for somebody in your field of enterprise, and subscribe to their Newsletter. Study it, and learn from it.  Is it interesting and informative? Would you look forward to the next issue? How is it structured?

My own Newsletter comes out monthly, and I am always on the lookout for ideas from fellow authors. You might like to sign up for it HERE.



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6 Responses to What Works For You?

  1. Ralph von Kaufmann says:

    The Wall Street Journal article headlined “Burn your business plan before it burns you” had an important message. I believe that the Lean Startup approach offers much better prospects of eventual success.

  2. jbwye says:

    I guess I agree – sort of. I have always encouraged those clients, who’ve already instinctively covered some business plan research, to start trading immediately. I call it “test trading”. It gives them something to work towards, and confidence to change things as they go.

  3. Ralph von Kaufmann says:

    I do not want to disrupt your successful approach and I fear that I may be talking out of turn and out of context, which would not be helpful. But, for what it is worth, I favour lean business models as an alternative to business plans and I enjoy working with the Strategyzer business model generation toolkit and its accessories. Since failure is the most certain outcome of any initial business concept ‘plan to fail’ cheaply and to pivot quickly to a business model that actually works. Traditional business plans were not designed to cope with failure which is a feature of any new start-up business.

    • jbwye says:

      Interesting, Ralph. There is room for all sorts of approaches to new businesses – as there are different kinds of people and businesses! I’ll take a deeper look at Strategyzer when time allows, and would probably including a link to the blog in a relevant chapter. One size does not fit all. (a host of diagrams and arrows, merely serve to boggle my mind completely!)
      My work is at the very grass roots, with people who mostly know nothing about business, and only want to try and make ends meet by stepping out in the “usual” humble small business environment.
      I have had a few entrepreneurs come my way, and they have quickly flown on to higher things. All they’ve needed is a bit of structure to their objectives, and guidance on how to take the next step. Some have come back to hit base and take a breath before returning to the fray.
      You are right – a secret to success is to learn through failure.

      • Ralph von Kaufmann says:

        Let me know how you get on with Strategyzer. I would be pleased to try to answer questions or to walk you through it using my subscription.
        Don’t worry there is no need for diagrams or arrows. Although, as a separate aide, a white board can sometimes help clarify ideas and/or resolve problems.

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