Guest article by Sandra Bellamy, Founder of www.beatredundancyblues.co.uk.
If you are unemployed and want to start your own business, just how do you start? How do you come to understand what makes the guts of a business in order for it to function successfully? And how can you make it work for you? This is what the Enterprise Club Start-up Training Course teaches you.
There are a number of Enterprise Clubs based at job centres across Britain. They are made up of a group of jobseekers, who want to start their own business and who are often looking to get on the New Enterprise Allowance Scheme. The British Government launched the scheme as a way of getting unemployed people off benefits and back into work, creating more jobs and boosting the economy.
When you join the New Enterprise Allowance Scheme, you will get access to a business mentor and the chance to have a loan of up to £1,000 towards the cost of starting your own business. After a qualifying period, you will be entitled to get the New Enterprise Allowance that replaces your JSA for up to 26 weeks, at a weekly rate of £65 for the first 13 weeks and £33 for the second 13 weeks, whilst you begin trading.
In order to be considered for the scheme, you must first meet the eligibility criteria and prove to the job centre that you have a viable business proposition by providing them with a business plan that predicts a profit. This is where the Enterprise Club Start-up Training course can help.
The training you receive from the course should cover the core structure of what makes a viable business. The way each job centre delivers the course will vary from place to place. Depending on how the trainer decides to run the course and how they wish to develop the content, it will often be delivered via a series of workshops.
These are the modules that I worked through whilst attending the course last year.
Module 1: You – Assesses if you have got what it takes to run your own business. Do you have a great idea for a business? Are you passionate about it and determined to make it succeed? Do you believe in yourself? Have you got the self-discipline to set goals, to manage your time effectively and to take action?
If you think you have all of these things, or you are willing to learn the skills that you don’t have, then the remainder of this course should help you on your way to achieving them. If by module one you are thinking that this is not for me, let the trainer know.
Module 2: Your product/service – Looks at what your unique selling points are. It focuses on the features and benefits of your business, its weaknesses and strengths and how you differ from other similar businesses. Know your competitors and you will know what you are up against.
Module 3: Sales and Marketing – Know your customer. Profiling of your customer includes their age, gender, economic status, ethnic background and their location. Discover ways of researching your market. If you don’t know your customer, how will you reach them?
Module 4: Finance – Explores your start-up costs and sources of financing them. Equips you with the knowledge to financially forecast the profit and loss of your business to examine if your business is going to be viable.
Module 5: Legal and Statutory – Decide if you want to be a Sole Trader, A Partnership or a Limited Company. Understand what you need to know to set up your business legally including the basic concepts of tax calculation and financial record keeping.
From week one, alongside module one, I was given a business plan template for me to complete sections of each week as homework. Every module covers an aspect of the business plan and by the end of module 5, I was expected to have a completed plan. I could use this business plan to apply for a bank loan for my business or to provide evidence to the job centre that my business was a viable one, to gain acceptance onto the New Enterprise Allowance Scheme.
Once you have completed the course, it is not compulsory to go onto the New Enterprise Allowance Scheme. I was happy to attend the course as it gave me invaluable insight into the main components I would need to start my own business that I would not have known, unless I had attended.
However, I decided that the time was not right for me to launch my business. I wanted to learn more about my customers, to build a relationship with them, before offering my products and services. I wanted to invest in my self-development, to learn more skills, get additional training and gain more knowledge, in order to serve my customers in the best way that they deserve.
As always, terms and conditions of being accepted to attend the course and of being entitled to receive the National Enterprise Allowance, do apply. Ask your local job centre for more details about the course and how it may affect any benefits that you are on.
Now, you have a decision to make. Not only do you need to know if you have got the guts of your business in place, you will also need to know if you have got the guts to run your own business. What better way of finding out, than attending the course? Whatever you decide, remember, you are only limited by the possibilities that you set for yourself.
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