Starting Up Small Businesses

The main difficulty with starting a new business is often the capital needed to get one going. If you don’t have enough money yourself or with your partner(s), Rob Hopkins outlined the idea of people buying shares in a business to make it possible. He spoke about a grocer’s that was going out of business in Yorkshire, England. The community wanted to save it so they started a share option plan to raise £15,000 in 10 days. He says the shares went on sale from between £20 and £10,000 and they sold all £15,000 worth in 10 days. This just shows how powerful and effective the local people can be, but only if they join forces. That’s a lot of money to raise in the local community in only a few days and that illustrates why projects such as this and the Transition Initiative can really turn hope into reality. You can watch Rob’s video here. It links to the point where he talks about this share option but the whole video is certainly worth watching.

The initiative that he talks about can be found here which you can look through to get an idea of how these things can really work. Again, it is all in the organisation. If you want to rescue a local shop, the people can do it. If you want to start a new shop, make sure it will not become competition for a similar shop in the area. Discuss at your group meetings what shops are lacking in the area and what people would welcome. This is much more effective than just opening something because you want to do it. If the people want it, they will utilise it. If there’s no local hairdresser’s or no local bakery but there is a demand for it, set up a share scheme and you could have it a lot quicker than if you tried to do it on your own with no initial support from the community.

When starting up We Love Crafts, I was as resilient as possible with obtaining the fittings. I reclaimed a load of shelves from my former school that was being demolished, built some other units myself and so completely avoided any expense with that. The stock was all locally sourced and sold on a ‘sale or return’ basis where we simply took commission on anything that sold and instead of the standard figure to start up any business being at least £20,000, it cost us £500. That was mostly for a till and public liability insurance.

Admittedly, it was a pop-up shop that we didn’t have to pay for but this is another way of avoiding costs if you can find somewhere that you can get a good deal for. you might find a landlord who has to pay business rates even though the shop is empty and you could say that you’ll pay those but no rent, at least for the first 12 months.

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