Small Business Week 2021 - The Start

Lucy Gray

The Start 

Setting Up 

So, as some of you may already know I began my Doodling Lucy Instagram back in 2016, however I definitely wouldn't consider that the start of my small business. It was more a way of showcasing my illustrations - getting out there, making a start. If you are unsure on your business or what you want to do, do this. Just post what you enjoy doing, see what sort of feedback you get, what works and what doesn't it's a good place to start if you have no idea what you what direction you want to go in. 

Lucy's first instagram post 2016

I started my instagram back in 2016 just uploading drawings and illustrations

Already know what you want to do? Great! Get started, Instagram is a great place to showcase your work and the best thing is it's for free!

Selling a physical product? Lots of people start by putting 'DM to order' however my personal opinion is to avoid this step. I'll tell you why...

Etsy is a great platform for people starting out selling, I think it's better to open an Etsy account rather than asking people to DM you. 

  1. Etsy has all the payment options sorted for you, you don't have to worry about giving your bank details or finding addresses, they do it for you. They offer credit card payments, debit card and Paypal making it more easy for customers to purchase.
  2. People can be intimidated by having to message a stranger, by popping a link to your Etsy shop people can have a browse, see what price your products are and come back when they need to, there's no pressure to buy or any awkward 'I'm okay thanks' messages. 

Etsy does take a cut of your work but compared to the monthly fees you pay for having a website its a great place to start out. It also has a large amount of blogs and hints and tips to get you started on your small business journey.

When to register your business 

Okay so you're set up? What about the dreaded tax man you ask? Do I need to tell him?

No, not yet. In the U.K you don't have to register as a sole trader until you earn over £1000 in the tax year. 

Find more information on the government website here: Setting up as a sole-trader 

Once you earn over £1000 you will be asked by HMRC to do a self-assessment tax return, however we will come back to that later on in the week during the finance day! 

When to go full-time

The likelihood of starting a small business means it will be your side hustle to begin with alongside a full-time or part-time job. I registered as a sole trader in January 2020 when I launched my website however didn't take the leap to go full time till October 2020, this was after 4 years of posting on Instagram. When is the right time to go full-time? Is a very hard question, it has so many personal variables. 

I went full-time in Ocotber 2020 4 years after starting my Instagram

I am very lucky (business wise) in the sense I still live with my parents (aw love you really Mum and Dad). Which means I don't have large outgoings rent wise or mortgage wise this has allowed me to plough any profits back into my business and grow that way.

I'm not sure if I can say this is a fortunate thing but being put on furlough from the coffee shop I worked at also gave me the opportunity to make a real go of Doodling Lucy. When I returned to my main 9-5 job I realised I was at the point of not being able to juggle them both which is when I made the decision to go full-time. 

When it comes to going full-time you will always be able to find reasons not to, to make excuses because it really is a scary commitment! However I think naturally there comes a tipping point where you can make the decision as to whether it's right or not.

Before you do there are some things to consider - the first couple of months may not produce profits, therefore it's useful to ensure you have enough savings from your previous job to cover your salary. Not to freak out when you're spending money but not bringing it in just yet, you have to speculate to accumulate - at least I think that's the saying!

When they call it a small business 'journey' they really mean it - there's ups and downs, twists in the road, times where you do complete U-turns, and times when you stop dead in your tracks not knowing which route to take. 

But, when you get to where you want to be, and you're looking back you'll realise the journey was what made your business into what it is now and that's the best bit. 

Doodling Lucy holding pink 1 balloon

Celebrating my first business year early in the year 

So my advice? Get started, put it out there, what's the worst that could happen? You make an Instagram account and delete it after a few weeks - no biggie, and the best that could happen? Well you'll have to start to find out! 

Stay tuned for tomorrows blog post on all thing social media, 




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