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Setting up a business and advice would be appreciated

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This topic contains 20 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by Tippon 4 months, 1 week ago.

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  • #35257

    Tippon
    Keymaster
    @tippon

    I’m toying with the idea of setting up a small business from home, and I’m after some advice and ideas please. Anything I do would be computer based, like building websites, or photography, so I’m looking for advice on setting up a home office too.

    I’ll need to either get a new computer, or upgrade mine, but without getting drawn into what spec I’d need, is there anything that would be better for a business as opposed to home use? e.g. would it be worth setting up a virtual machine for the business so that the whole thing can be backed up or used on another system with less fuss? Would it be worth setting up roaming profiles (Active Directory?) so that I could log in from my laptop and continue working?

    A Synology NAS seems to be the way forward for backups, along with everything else they can do, but again, is there a different way of doing things when it’s for a business, like do some models integrate better with other services etc.?

    I’m planning on getting a large desk so that the keyboard and mouse are on the same level as the monitors. Other than making sure that my seating height and monitor height are correct, are there any reasons for not having a large desk? I’ll be setting up a scanner, so probably an all in one, but that could go onto a filing cabinet or shelf as long as it’s in easy reach.

    Does anyone have any suggestions for things that I may miss please? For example, if Dave didn’t mention them on here, I wouldn’t have thought to use a NAS. I’ve got a feeling that I’m overlooking something, but I can’t think what it might be.

    Thanks guys 🙂

Viewing 20 replies - 1 through 20 (of 20 total)
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  • #35260

    JayCeeDee
    Participant
    @jayceedee
    Forumite Points: 4,480

    Best of luck with your endeavour!! ??

     

    Have you checked out the Business Wales website??

    https://businesswales.gov.wales/starting-up/

     

    https://www.careerswales.com/en/jobs-and-training/working-for-yourself/starting-your-own-business/

    There could be all sorts of help from those departments, not necessarily financial but certainly a good information resource.

    When mulling over starting a business we were on benefits. The wife was very ill and we’d had to close the Flower stall down. She couldn’t work or be left alone. We’d used up all our cash on selling up and moving ( in 2009 in the middle of the worst part of the banking crisis ) so that we could be mortgage free.

    The basic benefits were a joke but we survived. We were told about Working Tax Credits and they were a life-saver. We needed to be ‘working’ 30 hours a week to qualify, but that included time spent setting up, poster design, leafleting, fencing the garden to secure it etc, any time spent doing something towards setting it up ( for you – office and desk building, software courses, promoting the business ) could be allocated to the hours so that you qualified. This made a huge difference to the previous benefits, but entailed a LOT of form filling!!

    If you can build a desk using second hand 2 or 3-drawer cabinets and a piece of kitchen worktop, then go that way ( assuming your office is in a separate room from your living area ). If it’s in the same area then the wife’s requirements and baby’s needs have to be taken into account.

    As you’re starting out from scratch and working from home, ( assuming no customer facing ) other than appliances that you need for work, don’t spend too much money on things to start with, upgrade as the business allows.

    Spend as little as you actually need to while you’re starting off so if things so awry, you’re in less of a financial hole afterwards. When we started off the Dog Boarding business it was with a couple of crates, beds, bowls etc we got from the charity that we had been helping the previous year, to foster and re-home rescue dogs. It’s very easy to buy big on the back of ambitious goals and aspirations, but that can bite your ass later down the line.

    For example – When we were doing the flower stall, we helped a guy that wanted to re-create what we had in town, locally to him ( and us – he was a neighbour ). We told him to start off using milk crates to build his display ( in a pub car park ) but he went out and paid £800+ pounds for a collapsible steel framed display with tarpaulins over. When it didn’t work he just closed it down and gave us the display, which we couldn’t use and has been in my shed ever since, only ever used for a car boot sale or two that we did.

    These days it’s easier to use card pay machines or accounting software, but we started with a receipt book from Rymans and a cash box.

    It’s hard work, but very satisfying, especially when you reach the point that you don’t need the benefits and have become self-sufficient. Go for it!! – but always have a Plan B.

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    #35265

    Dave Rice
    Moderator
    @ricedg
    Forumite Points: 4,209

    You don’t need active directory, I’ve lived without it for years, but having said that I’ve set one up using my latest NAS. However that’s more to with testing scenarios for small businesses. Believe me AD is not pain free! It can be a monster to wrestle with, especially when the DNS side goes wrong.

    If you’re purely looking at storing documents then there is nothing wrong with using the free cloud storage, it’s doubtful you’ll ever hit the storage limits. If you’re dealing with multimedia that’s a different story.

    What a Synology NAS allows you to do is have your own private cloud. You can replicate your data over many machines using Synology Drive, which works like all the other Cloud sync apps you’ve seen. I use that on the laptops, the PCs just map a drive to the share.

    If you’re looking at upgrading your PCs, unless you specifically need a desktop for it’s processing power, say if you went down the photography route, I’d concentrate on a laptop. My current favourite is the HP 255 G7 Ryzen 3 8GB 256GB Full HD 15.6in Win10 Laptop £350 at E-Buyer which I upgrade to Pro (with the right key from E-Bay).

    Pro allows you to encrypt the hard drive (as it has a TPM chip) and for PCs I choose motherboards that allow me to install a TPM chip for the same reason.

    If you go down the Photography route then an “Intel” Synology NAS is going to allow you to do a lot of things the big boys do, like create a secure file portal for people to download their photos. A surveyor I look after does just this and he’ll take 100+ photos on each survey. Using BTRFS you can stop any bit rot in photo archives as it’s self healing and deduplicates automatically to save space.

    It also comes with comprehensive backup services for your PCs, integration with Cloud services like One Drive and a million and one things. You can backup the NAS to a local USB drive or to Synology’s own C2 Cloud (or Amazon AWS).

    Cost wise a basic 2 bay DS218j is £160 and this is the level of chassis all my small business customers use. Recently I’ve been using the Intel powered DS218+ to give me AD, BRTFS, PC backup etc and that’s £316. Double, but money well spent if you can use what’s on offer but you can live without it. Still a lot cheaper than an MS solution.

    I’ve done this many times now and will gladly help you if you want. I may be getting rid of my DS216j now I’m getting the DS218+ working as I want.

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    #35266

    Les.
    Participant
    @oldles
    Forumite Points: 1,096

    Dave’s advice looks too technical and comprehensive for me to pass comment, so take it as read.

    JCD likewise writes total sense. Don’t get suckered into the “borrow money” route whatever you do. It HAS to be PAID back.

    If you find yourself making loads’a cash, make sure you keep some back for the taxman. He is a greedy bugger, is first in line if things get tough, and he does not give up if you work yourself to death.

    IF you can do your own SIMPLE accounting, and you don’t get BIG, you don’t need an accountant. If you do have one, talk to a few, and choose one you can talk to on a  person to person basis. It gets easier if he knows you, not just as an entry in his system.

    Les.

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    #35268

    Richard
    Participant
    @sawboman
    Forumite Points: 2,303

    Look into the likes of Freecycle for various bits and pieces to avoid spending money before you have earned any, office desks and miscellaneous kit are sometimes given away for free, I know I have disposed of stuff that way. You might well get some left over construction materials from DIY projects that can help.

    You might/can get tax breaks for ‘investments’, this could include space and heating in your home, but be very wary, you might then attract business rates and should you come to sell your home it can get very complicated. JCD offers some very sage advice, in general I suspect he puts forward the notion of ‘rush slowly’ into every step.

    Do heed Les’s advice and make sure your tax affairs are squeaky clean right from the off; ensure you keep first-rate records in at least two places, ideally one ‘off site’.

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    #35275

    Bob Williams
    Participant
    @bullstuff2
    Forumite Points: 5,749

    All the advice given here is sound and should help, I have nothing to add except give none of what you produce away. I learned that hard lesson when I began a design and print business, after being retired on health grounds from a Disabled post. I was fortunate in that I started with a tidy sum as a payout and a little unfortunate in that it simply took off faster and financially better than expected, which drew me into false expectations. I was working harder and longer and had difficulty keeping pace. My tax affairs were not a problem, as before the previous employment I had completed a 13 month Business Admin/Tax course and I could keep my own books. I learned Sage Accounting and took IT courses at weekends in a Technical College. My previous employment was in Legal services at a county council, which proved to be a great help later.

    I was supplying entertainers, businesses and independent schools among others with business stationery and books including prospectuses. It was a school that tripped me up: I foolishly gave away a sample and they copied it. It took me money I could not afford to take the school to court, but I won with costs and damages, after almost a year. Then another business tried to copy the business card samples I had supplied, which had been UV watermarked by me. That was another legal struggle.

    Which is why I say, give nothing away. Everything you do, in preparation especially, has a cost to you. Factor in every expense possible, and append your name and copyright to everything you can.

    But much good luck Ryan, I hope you prosper!

    If it’s the Psychic Network why do they need a phone number?

    What’s right is what’s left if you do everything else wrong.

    If women ran the world we wouldn’t have wars, just intense negotiations every 28 days.
    --- Robin Williams

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    #35277

    dwynnehugh
    Participant
    @dwynnehugh
    Forumite Points: 1,686

    Hi Tip,

    I run a small business (private investigation and process serving) from my H/A – I started off with a bog standard PC (not a lover of l/top k/boards), made my own stationery, business cards etc. etc.  A spreadsheet that allows me to calculate travelling and working times, tel call costs and disbursements – the relevant details can then be linked to invoices in the same workbook etc.

    I have no need for VAT registration, I do use an accountant (they will certainly know what you are entitled to claim for – heating, lighting in your office, re-decoration, wear and tear, mobile and landline etc. etc – worth the investment!)

    Half the fun has been designing my own invoices and account docs – you may have seen me asking silly questions re Excel recently! Also be aware that you have to declare this to your house insurance and also on your car insurance. If you intend to invite clients to your home on business, you might find it v difficult to get suitable insurance.  Also you may need Pub Lia ins.

    Good luck.

    The more you meet people the more you understand why Noah took animals instead of humans

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    #35305

    Drezha
    Participant
    @drezha
    Forumite Points: 1,692

    Not only might you need public liability insurance, you may need professional indemnity insurace. I was considering setting myself up recently and looked in to it and I certainly needed PI insurance (fire is bit of a touchy subject still at the minute!) Instead, I’m hauling across the country to the Midlands again to work at the University but I did do some investigation.

    You might want to look at courses on Futurelearn for some various bits and bobs. It has some good courses on there from various Uni’s. I’ve been using it since release and have done short courses in helpful courses like Introduction to Bookkeeping, which would help you and the business, to courses that are interesting but not really relevant (Role of the RAF in the Cold War springs to mind!) Courses can be done free, though I have the annual unlimited package, as I get the certificates then and can use them as CPD for my Institute.

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    #35306

    Dave Rice
    Moderator
    @ricedg
    Forumite Points: 4,209

    Public Liability, always a good idea especially if you’re visiting customer premises. Professional Indemnity is only really needed if there’s a chance of you causing real damage to a customers premises / systems by your actions. It can be costly. I’ve taken the view that the systems I’m involved in don’t warrant it, I can see why Drezha does.

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    #35311

    dwynnehugh
    Participant
    @dwynnehugh
    Forumite Points: 1,686

    I think that before you start a ‘home business’ you need to consider exactly what you intend to do and how much time you will be involved with it. I am currently 70 years of age have my OAP and Police Pensions so in very many ways and compared to others, I am extremely fortunate – that said though we did pay 11.75% ‘superan’ towards the final police pension – so we didn’t get it for free! I do my work as ‘pin money’ as I can easily live without it – but to many it will be an important source of income.

    Unless you know your intended market well enough at the outset and have confidence that work will come flooding in, I would advice a slow approach and build up your customer base – making certain that the quality of your work is to a professional standard – but without the need to go OTT on the fringes – paperwork, invoices and business cards etc. – these can be upgraded as the business becomes established.

    The more you meet people the more you understand why Noah took animals instead of humans

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    #35312

    Dave Rice
    Moderator
    @ricedg
    Forumite Points: 4,209

    For Invoicing I use Wave, it’s totally free and very comprehensive. I can run it all from my mobile phone if I want to, handy for doing an instant invoice. I’ve not printed an invoice or receipt yet.

    I signed up for the optional card payments (1.4% +20p) and can take them through the mobile app too, handy for instant payments (it has happened).

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    #35326

    Bob Williams
    Participant
    @bullstuff2
    Forumite Points: 5,749

    I wish I had some of the above tactics and aids when I was printing. I ran Ms. Publisher 2000 and Office 97 Pro, made my own invoice/receipt templates, spreadsheets and used Sage Accounting for 12 months as the Disability college managed to swing me that free for a year. Then I setup my own books, using my own system.

    Correction to my previous post, about the course: “Business Admin/Tax” should have read “Business Admin/Accounting”.

    Interestingly, one of my last customers was a guy who began building, selling and repairing desktop systems, devices, printers etc. He had a good business until the ‘cowboys’ began advertising in local papers and everybody and his dog were selling PC’s. He saw the light and stuck to repairs only, which gave him lots of work repairing the cowboys’ mistakes. I was supplying his stationery and wondered why he didn’t print his own. “Don’t have time and am useless at design. You can spare me some working hours by printing it.”

    If it’s the Psychic Network why do they need a phone number?

    What’s right is what’s left if you do everything else wrong.

    If women ran the world we wouldn’t have wars, just intense negotiations every 28 days.
    --- Robin Williams

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    #35347

    D-Dan
    Participant
    @d-dan
    Forumite Points: 1,817

    I have no need for VAT registration, I do use an accountant (they will certainly know what you are entitled to claim for – heating, lighting in your office, re-decoration, wear and tear, mobile and landline etc. etc – worth the investment!)

    I’m an accountant, and may be an accountant within traveling distance from Newport, Gwent by the end of the year. (hint, hint)

    Arch Linux, on a Ryzen 7 1800X, 16 GB, 6 (yes - 6) HDs inc 2 SSDs, 4 RPi 3Bs + 1 RPi 4B - one as an NFS server with two more drives, PiHole (shut yours), Plex server, cloud server, and other random Pi stuff. Nice CoolerMaster case, NV GTX 1060 6GB, and a whopping 32" AOC 1440P monitor.

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    #35348

    JayCeeDee
    Participant
    @jayceedee
    Forumite Points: 4,480

    and may be an accountant within travelling distance from Newport, Gwent by the end of the year.

    Glad to see the relationship is going well!!???

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    #35351

    D-Dan
    Participant
    @d-dan
    Forumite Points: 1,817

    It is thank you 🙂 After nearly 40 years of off/on – we may finally be there. Maybe get two weekends this month. She’s coming over here on 9th, and all being well, I’ll be off there for BH weekend 🙂

    Arch Linux, on a Ryzen 7 1800X, 16 GB, 6 (yes - 6) HDs inc 2 SSDs, 4 RPi 3Bs + 1 RPi 4B - one as an NFS server with two more drives, PiHole (shut yours), Plex server, cloud server, and other random Pi stuff. Nice CoolerMaster case, NV GTX 1060 6GB, and a whopping 32" AOC 1440P monitor.

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    #35355

    JayCeeDee
    Participant
    @jayceedee
    Forumite Points: 4,480

    I’ll be off there for BH weekend ?

    Take your wet weather gear – you just know it’s gonna rain – Welsh Postcode and a BH weekend!!!??

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    #35357

    D-Dan
    Participant
    @d-dan
    Forumite Points: 1,817

    I’m sure we can find something to do indoors 😉

    Arch Linux, on a Ryzen 7 1800X, 16 GB, 6 (yes - 6) HDs inc 2 SSDs, 4 RPi 3Bs + 1 RPi 4B - one as an NFS server with two more drives, PiHole (shut yours), Plex server, cloud server, and other random Pi stuff. Nice CoolerMaster case, NV GTX 1060 6GB, and a whopping 32" AOC 1440P monitor.

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    #35361

    Bob Williams
    Participant
    @bullstuff2
    Forumite Points: 5,749

    Jigsaws, Dan??

    If it’s the Psychic Network why do they need a phone number?

    What’s right is what’s left if you do everything else wrong.

    If women ran the world we wouldn’t have wars, just intense negotiations every 28 days.
    --- Robin Williams

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    #35367

    D-Dan
    Participant
    @d-dan
    Forumite Points: 1,817

    I was thinking going to the pub, but jigsaws would work.

    Arch Linux, on a Ryzen 7 1800X, 16 GB, 6 (yes - 6) HDs inc 2 SSDs, 4 RPi 3Bs + 1 RPi 4B - one as an NFS server with two more drives, PiHole (shut yours), Plex server, cloud server, and other random Pi stuff. Nice CoolerMaster case, NV GTX 1060 6GB, and a whopping 32" AOC 1440P monitor.

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    #35370

    Bob Williams
    Participant
    @bullstuff2
    Forumite Points: 5,749

    A shared activity! But there is always that missing piece, that you find months later under the sofa.

    If it’s the Psychic Network why do they need a phone number?

    What’s right is what’s left if you do everything else wrong.

    If women ran the world we wouldn’t have wars, just intense negotiations every 28 days.
    --- Robin Williams

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    #35407

    Tippon
    Keymaster
    @tippon
    Forumite Points: 2,987

    Thanks for all the replies guys 🙂

    Sorry I haven’t been back sooner, I’m struggling with this weather and not getting much of anything done. I’ll try to get on tonight with a proper reply 🙂

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