Starting a business when still empoyed

Last Updated on Thursday, 28 August 2014 07:28 Written by Ed Beckmann Tuesday, 6 November 2012 11:03

Starting a Business

With a perceived lack of available finance and business funding, there is a growing trend in people starting up a new business when they are still in employment. This strategy reduces the pressure to succeed quickly, engage in large marketing campaigns and raise enough finance to keep you going whilst the you gradually win customers. Unless a very big launch into the market is crucial, removing all of the pressures above will enable you to focus on doing every step well, and will make you appear far less anxious when dealing with customers.

Although you will lose some of your leisure time, the contrast between the day job and your own business often gives that extra injection of energy that you need.

Here are some quotes from the Guardian Small Business Network, which offer a live Q & A session from 1pm to 3pm on Tuesday 6 November.

Guardian Small Business Network logo

Recent research from Sage found that one in four people in the UK want to start their own business. But starting from scratch is never easy and to limit risk many people remain in employment to see them through the early days.

There are plenty of things to mull over if you want to take this approach. I’m sure you’ll agree that working full-time is tiring in itself, and you may well end up exhausted while trying to juggle everything. How are you going to organise your time to allow you to concentrate on developing your business idea?

You might also want to think about what you are going to do next. Will you build enough cash reserves from the income your startup creates to sustain you, when and if you decide to leave your job? Then there’s the question of how honest you should you be with your current employer about your extracurricular pursuits. Perhaps, if you’re lucky, you could turn them into your first paying customer, or even bring them on board as a partner. However, be aware that working on your business during company time is unlikely to go down well.

Emily Wight, Friday 5 October 2012 17.45 BST

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Open Source Software (2)

Last Updated on Thursday, 28 August 2014 07:28 Written by Ed Beckmann Tuesday, 23 October 2012 02:56

Short summary of benefits of Open Source

principle which means that …
open source software has its code accessible so that if you have the right skills you can modify it you can make improvements whenever you want to, unlike proprietary software which you cannot change or fix;

you also benefit from loads of good ideas that other people have

it is usually available free of charge (providing you do not then make a charge for using it) anyone can benefit from it. Examples are the firefox web browser and apache server (which runs over half the websites in the world)
there is a wealth of support from other users when people come up with an improvement, they normally give it to everyone else;

if you have a problem, you can normally get free advice very quickly

it is designed very much for the job it has to do, with no commercial compromises or restrictions on its performance it will often work very well on older and lower power equipment than current models. So your infrastructure needs replacing far less often
the operating systems for both servers and desktop computers are more secure by design so are far less prone to virus attack you have no expense on virus software, less danger of down-time and everything runs faster (because it is doing the job, not fighting viruses)
it is designed very much for function, whilst still being simple to maintain and use it can sometimes look less slick than proprietary offerings because of the extra cost in making it look good in addition to simply working well

We have a policy of favouring open source software because of the principle of community ownership, the flexibility of adding any improvements we want and the economy of long hardware life and zero licence fees. Any business that is unaware of the potential savings is making decisions without knowing all of the options.

We are still a commercial business, so if a piece of proprietary software is the best tool for the job, we will use it!

Open Source Software We Use

ubuntu for our desktop and server environment. It is secure, simple to load and maintain, widely used with huge and helpful free help forums, runs quickly even on our oldest PC (7 years old). It just lets us get on with the job
open office as our key office suite, containing word processor, spreadsheet, presentation package and database
thunderbird and lightning for our emails and calendaring. It copes with updating all manner of computers and PDAs
Mozilla firefox and google chrome for our main web browsers. They follow the rules of the web so the pages display consistently as the web designed them to
gimp the graphic design package for creating our images or manipulating photographs
gnucash for running our accounts
moodle our wonderful learning platform
dropbox for keeping files up-to-date and where they need to be
apache and mysql servers for running our websites and databases
ganttproj for our basic project management needs
redmine for managing our IT job tracking system
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open source software

Last Updated on Thursday, 28 August 2014 07:28 Written by Ed Beckmann Tuesday, 23 October 2012 02:55

What is Open Source Software (OSS)?

There is a good definition guidance on wikipedia here, but here is our version. Sadly if you are in the UK, you are amongst the least likely people in Europe or the US to have heard about it. All of the software used for our business is open source (i.e. not Microsoft or Apple).

Open Source Software is generally available free of charge and exists because:

  1. it normally runs on most hardware, and is particularly efficient so you keep hardware for longer
  2. you (or someone you hire) can alter the way the program works to suit your needs
  3. being able to alter it means that you can benefit from everyone else’s ideas and improvements – you do not have to wait for what one manufacturer deems is a worthwhile annual upgrade
  4. you can often benefit from a very niche programme that someone has written because their business needs it, but is happy to share it thus share the workload of maintenance
  5. for office work there are few problems exchanging documents, spreadsheets and presentations with the main big name. Unlike your problems when people using newer versions force you to upgrade!

It can often take a while for the penny to drop regarding open source, because it is common in business not to share ideas with others (therefore missing out on their input) or give something away with no strings attached rather than sell it. Likewise it is much easier to stick with the norm rather than make your own decisions.

Well, over half the web runs on open source software, as do most car computers and electronic devices like TVs, DVDs etc. You are likely to have heard of Firefox and Opera browsers which are also open source.

It is true that fewer companies at the small business end of the market support open source, but given they can do almost all of your maintenance remotely you do not need one in every high street. Equally be aware that if you ask an “IT expert” about open source you may not get a balanced view – just like going into a Ford garage and asking what they think of Renault cars.

more details here …

We are still a commercial business, so if a piece of proprietary software is the best tool for the job, we will use it! We just do not limit ourselves to one option or 2 big brands.

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