I've just had my very last Small Business Start Up Scheme meeting! It's been an incredible two years. Many, many thanks to my mentor, Helen Cowley, for her enthusiasm and support (seriously, ask for her if you do the course!!) and to the Department of Economic Development for believing in my creative business. The grants and mentorship have been incredibly valuable.
If you want to start up your own business on the island, I highly, HIGHLY recommend the scheme. The introduction course is relaxed, friendly and easy to follow, the mentors are really helpful and the department WANT to give you the money. Seriously. They want to help you. So let them. Don't think that being creative puts you at a disadvantage. Business plans are nowhere near as frightening as you think they are. Follow a template, be methodical, keep it concise. You might even enjoy it (subversive right, we're not supposed to enjoy entrepreneurial activities as artists, are we?!).
It would have taken me another 2 years of working in jobs that I hated to save up enough money to purchase equipment and keep my bank account in the black for the first 18 months of trading. Instead, I worked 3 jobs over one summer to save some capital, dropped one job when I began trading, then another 9 months later and now I'm leaving my last part time job - my main income - because I know that I can fulfil the potential of my business (and support myself with it). Sure, it's scary, it's a lot of responsibility, but it's really exciting too. There is no way I could be doing this now without SBSUS.
Kudos to my awesome customers and stockists too, you make this possible.
(In a reminiscent moment this morning, I recalled business plan writing times two years ago... some friends had just introduced me to Flight of the Conchords and though the meaning of the song is wildly off topic (yet hilarious), I found myself singing 'It's business time!' whilst creating sales forecasts.)