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How Linda started her own booming underwear business

Linda wanted to start her own business selling outsize underwear, but she was unsure of how and where to sell her products. She was also recovering from long-term illness and lacked confidence to take the step into full time self-employment, knowing there was some risk involved. J

Linda approached the Be Your Own Boss enterprise at Gentoo about her idea. She was wanted desperately to give the business a go but was nervous about moving away from the guaranteed income of her sickness-related benefit and into the uncertain income of self-employment.

Be Your Own Boss helped Linda to overcome this; she was provided with a benefits check and ‘better-off’ calculation from a Fiscus advisor. This reassured her that there are in-work benefits available to the newly self-employed who may have small earnings in the early stages of trading.

Then, one of the business advisor helped Linda to write a business plan looking at practical ways to put her ideas into action, including a marketing plan, competitor analysis, customer profile and cash flow forecasts.

Linda and her business advisor were able to devise an effective trading strategy which helped to convince her that self employment was the right option. Linda decided to sell her products from markets around the region and simultaneously operate an online business selling products through eBay. Home ‘party’ plans would also be operated to give the business a third income stream.

An agreement was reached with the Job Centre that Linda would be able to test trade for few weeks to explore demand for her products. This involved trading for a limited number of hours and earning a limited amount, presenting the trading results to the Job Centre. After test trading for only a few weeks Linda found that the business was so successful that she decided to sign off her benefits early and start trading full time earlier than expected.

Linda called her business Apples and Pears and begun trading in July 2013. She has found that her personality is ideally suited to working in this environment and has quickly created a loyal customer base generating a huge demand for her products.

Recent conversations with Linda have confirmed that the business is stronger than ever and that she has learned much during her first year of trading.

She commented that she would recommend anyone in the same position to make the switch to self employment.

About Be Your Own Boss

Three North East Social Enterprise businesses are working together to provide ‘Be Your Own Boss’ – a business start-up and advice service set up with the help of a £1m European Regional Development Fund investment.

It has created 78 business start-ups and growing.

Together, SES (Sustainable Enterprise Strategies), social business Gentoo Group and FISCUS form a partnership to create ‘Be Your Own Boss’, a project that promises to provide users with everything they need to set up and succeed in business.
With a target of creating over 330 sustainable businesses within three years, Be Your Own Boss supports anyone considering taking the leap into self-employment. This includes free and confidential advice, support with business planning and finding start-up funding.

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