Any TSRians thinking of starting a business sometime, instead of being an employee? Watch

IceWater
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There's something very attractive about entrepreneurship. You don't have to be an employee slave, no 9-5, you're your own boss. If you're really successful, then you're sorted, hell most of the world's richest men are businessmen. Of course there are also major risks, like it failing or wasting a lot of time.

I really want to start my own business one day. Maybe after university or after experience in the corporate world. My uncle owns a successful computer security business and a family friend is making hundreds of thousands in a mobile phone fixing business.

Any TSRians hoping to start a business one day? What are your plans and ambitions?
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Melancholy
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Imma set up an ice-cream store and sell ice-cream to businessmen. Maybe we'll meet someday.
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Ice_Queen
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People under-estimate the difficulty of being self-employed. I'm not saying you will, but in general.
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M_E_X
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(Original post by IceWater)
There's something very attractive about entrepreneurship. You don't have to be an employee slave, no 9-5, you're your own boss. If you're really successful, then you're sorted, hell most of the world's richest men are businessmen. Of course there are also major risks, like it failing or wasting a lot of time.

I really want to start my own business one day. Maybe after university or after experience in the corporate world. My uncle owns a successful computer security business and a family friend is making hundreds of thousands in a mobile phone fixing business.

Any TSRians hoping to start a business one day? What are your plans and ambitions?
As the son of an entrepreneur/businessman (I can provide details of what we do, last year we made several million pounds in profit, so not a 'garage job' or anything) I can say that it's not the lifestyle for me.

When you say "no 9-5", that's right, you'll be working much much longer hours. You have to pick up all of the slack and the buck stops with you, every time. Being an employee is easy compared to being an entrepreneur, not the other way around.
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IceWater
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(Original post by M_E_X)
As the son of an entrepreneur/businessman (I can provide details of what we do, last year we made several million pounds in profit, so not a 'garage job' or anything) I can say that it's not the lifestyle for me.

When you say "no 9-5", that's right, you'll be working much much longer hours. You have to pick up all of the slack and the buck stops with you, every time. Being an employee is easy compared to being an entrepreneur, not the other way around.
That's true, I don't really know why I've become so interested in starting up a business lately, maybe because I want to be in control of my job? I'm not sure but you're right, I think I may be underestimating responsibility.

Out of curiosity, what type of business does your dad own i.e what product / service? Do you mind giving examples of why it's not the lifestyle for you?
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M_E_X
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(Original post by IceWater)
That's true, I don't really know why I've become so interested in starting up a business lately, maybe because I want to be in control of my job? I'm not sure but you're right, I think I may be underestimating responsibility.

Out of curiosity, what type of business does your dad own i.e what product / service? Do you mind giving examples of why it's not the lifestyle for you?
We are the UKs second largest de-icing salt supplier, as well as the second largest turf farm. Salt is really busy in the winter, turf in summer, so they fit well together.
The turf we grow on our farm and sell it via the internet to end users (mostly domestic customers for their own garden). Salt we import in to the UK on big ships (we buy a small fraction of our salt from the one salt mine in the UK, but most is imported), we have two bagging plants which put it in to 15kg and 25kg bags, and we sell those bags to customers. Here customers are people like hospitals, prisons etc but next year we're supplying Asda and some other supermarkets so they can sell them 'in store' to shoppers, which is a big step for us.

So it's a very traditional "make a product and sell it" type of business, nothing clever/fancy like IT or consulting.

I wouldn't want to do it because of the amount of work he puts in. Also he grew up poor and wanted to get rich, I haven't' grown up poor, so I've not got the same motivation (that sounds awful but it's true).
Also I honestly don't think I'd be good at it. I mean I'm a lot more 'book smart' than he is (he has no qualifications: I'm a straight A, first class honours student at a good uni) but the sort of ideas he has with business, I honestly don't think I could replicate. So I'm just not cut out for it, I guess.

Any more questions I'll be glad to answer them
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IceWater
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(Original post by M_E_X)
We are the UKs second largest de-icing salt supplier, as well as the second largest turf farm. Salt is really busy in the winter, turf in summer, so they fit well together.
The turf we grow on our farm and sell it via the internet to end users (mostly domestic customers for their own garden). Salt we import in to the UK on big ships (we buy a small fraction of our salt from the one salt mine in the UK, but most is imported), we have two bagging plants which put it in to 15kg and 25kg bags, and we sell those bags to customers. Here customers are people like hospitals, prisons etc but next year we're supplying Asda and some other supermarkets so they can sell them 'in store' to shoppers, which is a big step for us.

So it's a very traditional "make a product and sell it" type of business, nothing clever/fancy like IT or consulting.

I wouldn't want to do it because of the amount of work he puts in. Also he grew up poor and wanted to get rich, I haven't' grown up poor, so I've not got the same motivation (that sounds awful but it's true).
Also I honestly don't think I'd be good at it. I mean I'm a lot more 'book smart' than he is (he has no qualifications: I'm a straight A, first class honours student at a good uni) but the sort of ideas he has with business, I honestly don't think I could replicate. So I'm just not cut out for it, I guess.

Any more questions I'll be glad to answer them
Wow, very impressive.

Also agree with you on the emboldened, though I've become interested in business more to "create" something, I think it might just be a phase though. More so because I'm not very clued up about it! I'm not really motivated by the money per se, because I was relatively comfortable financially when growing up.

How did he come up with something like that? I know it's a difficult question to answer, but I don't know how people manage to organise stuff like that e.g. how he managed to think of the idea in the first place, how he organised the import of salt, how he set up the bagging plant, how he marketed it etc. I am a bit clueless about how it all came together. It's very impressive though. Do you have many employees? Do you get involved?

I'm very fascinated with how businessmen work and what makes them tick, I think they're completely different to academic smart people, streetsmart almost. So naturally I admire them.
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River85
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(Original post by M_E_X)
When you say "no 9-5", that's right, you'll be working much much longer hours. You have to pick up all of the slack and the buck stops with you, every time. Being an employee is easy compared to being an entrepreneur, not the other way around.
:ditto:

I have set up my own book selling business. I'm hoping for a 10k profit in my first year (so, yes, it is fairly modest). But even from my limited experience I can tell you that, whilst it has its perks, it not some free and easy ride. No 9 - 5 doesn't mean that you can just sleep in when you want and make time up later.

I'm going to take a couple of years trying to expand it whilst still focusing on postgrad and alternative career plans. I don't expect it will turn into anything more than some part-time thing (quite a rewarding hobby :p: )
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M_E_X
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(Original post by IceWater)
Wow, very impressive.

Also agree with you on the emboldened, though I've become interested in business more to "create" something, I think it might just be a phase though. More so because I'm not very clued up about it!

How did he come up with something like that? I know it's a difficult question to answer, but I don't know how people manage to organise stuff like that e.g. how he managed to think of the idea in the first place, how he organised the import of salt, how he set up the bagging plant, how he marketed it etc. I am a bit clueless about how it all came together. It's very impressive though. Do you have many employees? Do you get involved?

I'm very fascinated with how businessmen work and what makes them tick, I think they're completely different to academic smart people, streetsmart almost. So naturally I admire them.
The salt side of the business is very new (this was only our third winter! But we still sold about ~£3m worth of salt)

The farm has been a family farm for hundreds of years, never doing very well. It's done everything from chickens to strawberries to hay. It turned to turf about 20 years ago. Initally my dad left school with no qualifications and went to 'do his own thing', he worked at Superdrug, was a store manager, etc. The farm was really struggling. This was around the time the internet was new and he saw an opportunity, so he came back and we became the first company worldwide to sell turf over the internet (and until very recently we were #1 on google for 'turf' - something we recently lost but should get back soon). From there the turf went from strength to strength, the farm was 1000 acres a years or so ago, which is a fairly big area.

The salt side of things only started 3 years ago, as I said. Over the years we started selling other products such as gravel, slate, sand, etc and the salt seemed a logical addition to that (you can 'bag' all of these products the same way, they are all very similar). The salt was especially appealing because its demand peaks in winter, which is typically a very quiet time for the farm.


Organising all the salt imports etc: that's the bit I don't think I could do! He networks/gets on with people very well (I think this is a skill I have to some extent, at uni/on work experience placements I get on with people very well, I guess I'm 'popular' but not in the conventional athlete/cheerleader way). He's very good at motivating people and getting people on-board to help him. He would have taken advice from people who already import salt or another product, and used that himself, although to be honest I'm not sure exactly how that happened.

As an example of a great idea he's had recently... (well, I think it's great!)

We import about 60-80,000 tonnes of salt per year, we bag it at our bagging plant (about 30 minutes from the docks) then distribute it around the UK. This year we have made a big improvement: we've bought a mobile bagging plant, basically it packs away in to a wagon and you can drive it and unpack it wherever you want. So now we can import salt in to any dock in the UK (eg Glasgow, Carlisle, etc), drive our bagging plant down there and set it up actually on the dock (networking with the doc k for permission to do this), and distribute to eg the west coast of Scotland from Glasgow. This saves massive amounts of money, as sending say 10,000 tonnes of salt from our farm to Scotland by road is very expensive.

Have I explained the idea ok? Basically we bought a mobile bagging plant (not cheap, they're several hundred thousand pounds) and by networking/being organised we have ships coming in to all different docks around the UK, saying us heaps of money on haulage.

That's the sort of idea he has, that I would never think of.


And yeah I agree they are very different to 'academic' people! I've got completely different skills to him. I think his main skills, as I mentioned above, are being motivated, determined, good at getting on with people, a good motivator, hard-working...

Wheras to do well academically (at least in my subject, physics) you basically only need a good memory
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User570431
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Hard but possible.
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M_E_X
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(Original post by River85)
:ditto:

I have set up my own book selling business. I'm hoping for a 10k profit in my first year (so, yes, it is fairly modest). But even from my limited experience I can tell you that, whilst it has its perks, it not some free and easy ride. No 9 - 5 doesn't mean that you can just sleep in when you want and make time up later.

I'm going to take a couple of years trying to expand it whilst still focusing on postgrad and alternative career plans. I don't expect it will turn into anything more than some part-time thing (quite a rewarding hobby :p: )
Ten thousand pound profit in year one is nothing to snub your nose at! You'd probably be in the top 20% of businesses year one profits there? (the vast majority lose money, and then some more will turn a very meagre profit...)

Well done!

Do you do it full time or part time? Have you got plans to expand the business? I guess you sell over the internet? It must be so tough competing with Amazon etc on that front...

I always thought there was a market for acting as a marketplace between students of different years selling textbooks. Especially at my uni (St Andrews, a tiny town) there is nothing like this at all, once you've finished a year you don't need those textbooks any more and everyone in the year below does want them. If I had my time at uni again I'd possibly try to set that sort of thing up.
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IceWater
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(Original post by M_E_X)
The salt side of the business is very new (this was only our third winter! But we still sold about ~£3m worth of salt)

The farm has been a family farm for hundreds of years, never doing very well. It's done everything from chickens to strawberries to hay. It turned to turf about 20 years ago. Initally my dad left school with no qualifications and went to 'do his own thing', he worked at Superdrug, was a store manager, etc. The farm was really struggling. This was around the time the internet was new and he saw an opportunity, so he came back and we became the first company worldwide to sell turf over the internet (and until very recently we were #1 on google for 'turf' - something we recently lost but should get back soon). From there the turf went from strength to strength, the farm was 1000 acres a years or so ago, which is a fairly big area.

The salt side of things only started 3 years ago, as I said. Over the years we started selling other products such as gravel, slate, sand, etc and the salt seemed a logical addition to that (you can 'bag' all of these products the same way, they are all very similar). The salt was especially appealing because its demand peaks in winter, which is typically a very quiet time for the farm.


Organising all the salt imports etc: that's the bit I don't think I could do! He networks/gets on with people very well (I think this is a skill I have to some extent, at uni/on work experience placements I get on with people very well, I guess I'm 'popular' but not in the conventional athlete/cheerleader way). He's very good at motivating people and getting people on-board to help him. He would have taken advice from people who already import salt or another product, and used that himself, although to be honest I'm not sure exactly how that happened.

As an example of a great idea he's had recently... (well, I think it's great!)

We import about 60-80,000 tonnes of salt per year, we bag it at our bagging plant (about 30 minutes from the docks) then distribute it around the UK. This year we have made a big improvement: we've bought a mobile bagging plant, basically it packs away in to a wagon and you can drive it and unpack it wherever you want. So now we can import salt in to any dock in the UK (eg Glasgow, Carlisle, etc), drive our bagging plant down there and set it up actually on the dock (networking with the doc k for permission to do this), and distribute to eg the west coast of Scotland from Glasgow. This saves massive amounts of money, as sending say 10,000 tonnes of salt from our farm to Scotland by road is very expensive.

Have I explained the idea ok? Basically we bought a mobile bagging plant (not cheap, they're several hundred thousand pounds) and by networking/being organised we have ships coming in to all different docks around the UK, saying us heaps of money on haulage.

That's the sort of idea he has, that I would never think of.


And yeah I agree they are very different to 'academic' people! I've got completely different skills to him. I think his main skills, as I mentioned above, are being motivated, determined, good at getting on with people, a good motivator, hard-working...

Wheras to do well academically (at least in my subject, physics) you basically only need a good memory
Yep you explained it great. Completely agree with you as well, I used to think academics were the be all and end all until I matured, I really do admire businessmen, they seem to understand the real world more, and have an intelligence that isn't really explored at school. Something that most TSR students need to understand

I think all subjects have a massive memory component, even maths! Only a very small component of most courses are usually lateral thinking / creativity / deduction etc. I've become a bit disillusioned with academic stuff recently.
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Victor-PP
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OP, I understand you perfectly. There's something very fascinating about entrepreneurship. You get what you put in. And (good) business managers are unlilke any other people, they are, as you very well put it, streetsmart

I'm hoping to start up a small IM company after this summer with a few partners. I plan to work part-time on it, since we'll start small and local and I have quite a few business partners. We'll see how it works out.
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wanderlust.xx
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Possibly a family accountancy firm. :p: But we'll see.
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tillytots
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Hmm my parents are both business owners/entrepreneurs too, nothing huge at the moment, although the have in the past. It definitely gives you alot more freedom in what you can do, and also the possibility of making more money than ever just being employed (not always a rule, but a possibility compared to most 9-5's.) However, I agree, I don't think it's for me. They never really get 'days off' as such, have to deal with hassles of finding people to work for them and both of them usually start their days at about half /5am and work until late. Its what they love doing, but I don't think it's a lifestyle i'm considering at the moment. Maybe later on in life, if I think of something innovative hmm.
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Instincts_2012
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I'm 16 and I've just kick-started a small company online.

I'm making about £75 a week LOL isn't much but I'm working my way up!
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arabcnesbit
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Great thread.

I'm really looking forward to this summer, after I get the exams out the way, because I am going to start my own business.

Problem is I have loads of ideas and it's just a case of applying my efforts on one and concentrating on the execution.

On a slight tangent, if any of your businesses took off, would you consider dropping out, or is that completely out of the question?
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Moooooooose
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My mum has her own successful business, and I hope to follow in her footsteps. What she does is quite specialist though, and as it is related closely to the building of new houses, the business took a big hit during the recession in 08 and 09 as fewer houses were being built. That is the problem of owning your own business- if it loses money you're hit first. Employees would be hit second generally. My mum actually doesn't work too long hours, because she's top she's able to delegate tasks to others. She has to attend a lot of meetings and travel a lot though.
I'm going to be doing a degree in Photography and plan to set up my own business after graduating. I already have a small sports photography business going, but I'm looking at going into a different type of photography that pays very well.
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wactm
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People overestimate how difficult being self employed is. I'm 18, I work for less than 5 hours a week and earn more than my parents combined.

Take the risk. **** 9-5. **** social norms. Be the best. Work Smart Not Hard.
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Victor-PP
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(Original post by Instincts_2012)
I'm 16 and I've just kick-started a small company online.

I'm making about £75 a week LOL isn't much but I'm working my way up!
Oh, that's great! What is your company about?
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