YOUTH unemployment nationally is the highest it has been since records began in 1992 at 1,027 million.
Surprisingly, given the current financial woes of many companies, the advice from a panel of existing local entrepreneurs is that this is the perfect time for young people to consider going into business on their own.
The ‘Dragons’ in our panel, all members of Spalding Networking, a free networking group aimed at local businesses, believe more encouragement should be given to budding entrepreneurs to give them the confidence to branch out on their own, with mentoring from existing company owners.
“This is a good time to go into business,” said CSM Carpets & Flooring managing director Alan Myson. “I think it’s just as safe to work for yourself as to work for someone else. In fact it is safer, providing you have the right attributes. I really encourage it because I find it so satisfying. I don’t think there is enough encouragement for young poeople.”
Christine Grocock, co-director with Scott Thompson of Spalding-based Drive By Websites, says mentoring would have helped in the early stages of the business and admits they were “naive” when they started out and it wasn’t until they listened to what clients said they wanted – affordable websites they could easily update themselves – that clients increased by 50 per cent.
She added: “Some of the feedback might be a bit harsh, but it stops you making these mistakes. There are so many web developers out there and we just couldn’t compete.”
Scott Woods had 15 to 20 years’ experience in the financial sector before becoming co-director of Spalding-based Bingham-Woods with Jonathan Bingham. The men didn’t take any help that may have been available because both already knew enough about the industry to believe they could offer a better service.
Scott agreed: “It is absolutely the right time for the right young person to go into business. It is not an easy option. You will work much harder for much longer, especially in the first few years.”
Scott, too, says they probably would have made business changes sooner had they had someone to point out they needed administrative support so they could focus on the core business.
Alan admits he sought as much help as he could in the early days and started off small, something he believes is important, as is having sufficient capital to see a new business through its first six months to avoid having to borrow money.
He added: “The other thing is to be as frugal as possible during the first two years with cashflow. When we started in 1999 things were quite good and the money was coming in, but when you hit recessions, that’s when it hits the cashflow.
“Know your own strengths and weaknesses and seek advice from those who have got skills you don’t have, and at the end of the day customer care is number one. We are only as good as our last job and yes, you do make mistakes, but the secret is not to kick yourself continuously but to learn from them. You can turn a customer with a complaint into a satisfied customer depending on how you address a problem.”