I still remember holding my last ever paycheque. I’d handed in my notice at the stockbrokers I worked for in London and was on my way out of employed work for good. It was a thrilling feeling, of course. No more bosses, PAYE, or office politics. But I have to admit, I was plenty anxious. A regular income has its benefits!
Employed life was comfortable, but I thought I could do better. So I tried my luck at a completely different business – as an importer and wholesaler of beauty oils. And I haven’t looked back since.
I’ve certainly been involved in quite a bit of stuff way outside my comfort zone. In fact, the most successful entrepreneurs I know, knew nothing about the industry they went into. But then, learning new things is always fun. I mean, a few years ago, little did I know that I’d be writing to you today!
In the same way that they say there’s a book in everyone – I think it’s probably the case that there’s a business in everyone. And that’s an exciting prospect. It’s time for Britain to get entrepreneurial again.
Napoleon was right
Entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well on the continent. The depression sweeping southern Europe is spawning a new army of business start-ups. And I’m not surprised. When there’s no work available, why not get out there and sell your services directly? Who needs to wait for an employer to pull his finger out! In Spain, new business start-ups are up over 8%. Portugal clearly has an even more entrepreneurial spirit, with new start-ups, up some 20%.
Napoleon said that England is a nation of shopkeepers. And that wasn’t meant to be a criticism. It was more an observation on our trading and entrepreneurial prowess. Serial entrepreneur Luke Johnson made the same point in the Sunday Times last weekend: “We could breed hundreds of Bransons – it’s in our genes.”
It’s time to get back to business. Investing in your own business needn’t be a full-time affair, and it needn’t be a scary prospect. I know plenty of people that have started up small businesses as a part-time hobby, and as the business grew, it offered the opportunity of a full-time and very rewarding vocation.
Others have bought existing businesses from previous owners that were looking to hang up their boots. In fact, there are some real bargains available in this area, and buying mature businesses allows new and younger owners an opportunity to rationalise things with modern technology and new ideas. By doing so, the business can become much more valuable in just a matter of months.
This is what private equity companies do all the time, only on a larger scale. But I’d say there’s definitely a gap in the market when it comes to small businesses.
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I think that part of Britain’s lack of entrepreneurship comes down to the fact that we’re all hooked on stock-market investing. And to a degree, that’s OK, but publicly quoted stocks aren’t a cheap way of investing. Consider the fact that you’re probably paying some 15 times the company’s earnings for your stake. Whereas, if you buy an existing small business, you could be paying as little as three times earnings. And if you start it up yourself, it needn’t cost you more than 50 quid – which includes company registration, website domain and even a freephone number.
Starting a business has never been cheaper or easier. The web is full of useful information and offers a great way of getting your message out there to the masses.
A business can be a fantastic pension plan too. When you consider the fact that the pensionable age may well be pushed farther and farther out; working for yourself could offer you great flexibility, as well as a tangible asset that can be passed down through the generations. On a personal note, I don’t see myself ever really properly retiring. It’ll just be a case of managing the businesses differently.
Don’t worry… just do it
I’ve had quite a few start-up businesses come to me as new customers. It’s always interesting to see the array of different types of people getting involved in new ventures. Some create small businesses, really just to give them some flexible, part-time work; while others develop more serious brands, and are quickly trading in meaningful volume.
The point is, this could be you. Why not take a few moments this weekend to think about some new business ideas? Start with the things you know: hobbies, or maybe your existing employment. But you don’t need to be hamstrung by your skill set.
My point is, that rather than throwing thousands of pounds at the latest stock-market darling, why not invest in your own business, in yourself? This could be life-changing. Do it now… there’s no need to wait for a depression to force your hand!
• This article is taken from the free investment email The Right side. Sign up to The Right Side here.
Information in The Right Side is for general information only and is not intended to be relied upon by individual readers in making (or not making) specific investment decisions. The Right Side is an unregulated product published by Fleet Street Publications Ltd. Fleet Street Publications Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. FCA No 115234. http://www.fsa.gov.uk/register/home.do
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