A Helping Hand

It has been an interesting and informative couple of weeks at Cakes & Cardies. It turns out that there is a scheme run by the government to help new businesses! I discovered this when I went to sign on. I was a bit apprehensive about signing on as I wasn’t looking for a job now that I had decided to start my own business. But it turns out that they have a scheme for people like me, called the New Enterprise Allowance (NEA). I went along to a session about it last week to learn all about it and as of yesterday I am enrolled.

It offers mentoring to help with setting up a business, they help you to write a good business plan, work out the business cash flow and once the business starts trading there is an allowance to help out in those first few months. I now have a questionnaire to fill out about the business that will go some way to writing my business plan. This will be helpful as I haven’t really put anything on paper as yet and it will be good to think about it in a methodical way. Having someone on the other end of an email/phone to help is also great, they have run their own business so they know all the problems and pitfalls as well as the advantages. It also gives me more of a structure, the business plan has to be ready within 8 weeks, so it means I have to get my skates on. It really gives me a goal to aim for.

As well as this program I also attended a free seminar funded by the City of London called Pathway to Self Employment run by basls. This was a three hour session that went through all the things you need to think about when opening your own business (business name, market research, legal issues etc), they also offer a mentoring scheme but as I am already on the NEA scheme this did not apply. But one of the great things that came out of this was the information about the City Business Library (this is part of the Guildhall Library). The library is a great resource for all things business, it has books and journals but also lots of software that can help with market research, company profiles, HR etc. I became a member immediately after the seminar, this was lot to do with the fact that it was lashing with rain as I left! I was going to do it anyway but the rain just nudged me along! So one of my mornings next week will be spent in the library getting as much information as I can.

I have to say that I have been impressed by the amount of help there is out there for new businesses, both from the government and charitable organisations (the seminar at the Guildhall is run by the GLE). I’m not always the first person to ask for help in this way but I am glad that I have, I don’t have to do this on my own. There are people out there who want to help.

Last Friday I did the second day of the Food Safety course and sat my exam. As you will remember the exam is 30 multiple choice questions and you have to get 20 correct to pass. We started the exam at 13.35 and I finished at 13.47 and I tried to slow myself down! The tutor then checked it and, unofficially, I have passed. It has to go off the CIEH to be marked and I will hear officially in about three weeks. Now all I have to do is put it into practice in my kitchen. My big project or rather my other big project is to get the kitchen up to scratch so that it will pass an environmental health inspection. This means a lot of cleaning, re-organising, sorting out storage and much more. Keep tuned for all the fun and frolics that will bring!

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