Business advice from the NDA’s new Finance Director

Hello all, I just thought I’d introduce myself and say hello. I’m Robin Birch and I’ve just joined the NDA as its Finance Director.  Well, I’ve been in post just a couple of weeks now, so I’m still very much the newbie! Unfortunately, I’m so new I don’t have a snazzy head shot to show you all.
I was a bit puzzled when James (NDA Private Clients Practice Manager) and Natasha (Tutor) sidled up to my desk the other week – ordinarily creative folk keep well away from the Foundation Degree office unless they want to buy something [smiley]  But hey, pleasant surprise they wanted me to take a slot in the commercial workshop which ran on the 15th Feb. I’m happy to share my commercial experience, just hope students are happy to listen!
Well, I think it went OK. The students were very attentive, despite it being close to lunchtime.  The theme was ‘setting up your own business’. There’s a lot of info on the web about whether you set up as ‘self employed’, in partnership or as a limited company and there are pluses and minuses to each which you can look up. The discussions we had were along the lines of:
·         only go into business if you really, really want to.  Remember, as an employee it’s someone else’s responsibility to find the cash to pay salaries and the other bills.
·         in the early days of your business avoid fixed costs – these have to be paid regardless of your income.
·         be aware of the risks – use the standard form of contract, get stage payments if you can.
·         prepare a business plan and cash flow. It’s not that complicated.
·         remember the mantra – to fail to plan is to plan to fail.

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