So after many many months of just quietly contemplating if I could start and run my own business, and questioning whether or not I had it in me, my husband and I were driving home from a friend's house. It was a long journey and after chatting to my husband about my little dream, I suddenly realised that I was passionate about something and felt a fire in my belly that I had never felt before. My husband made me see that I needed to just try, plain and simple. A case of 'if I don't try it now I may never' and always be wondering what if? And well, who wants to live with regrets.
I already had the business idea firmly in my mind and, as I've realised, that's one of the biggest things a successful business needs - just a good, sound idea that can be built on.
I plan to open an arts and crafts cafe aimed at children under 12 and their parents/carers in Chelmsford (Essex) town centre. It will be a fun, relaxing and different sort of cafe where adults can enjoy good quality fresh food and drink, whilst their children are engaged in something creative and constructive. It will be a great place to socialise with other parents/carers, whilst the children are busy creating a master piece or just making a mess! Thats fine though because at 'Eat-n-Mess' children are allowed to be children. They can "make a mess without any of the stress" (for the parents). The staff will be happy to set up and clear away all the mess, serve food and drinks and assist in the crafts. There will be a safe and secure space just for babies too so parents can have their hands free if needed.
In early Sept '10 I got to work on my little dream. I am not business minded in any way shape or form, so I really have my work cut out. That's actually been a positive thing thus far because I've already gained so much knowledge and confidence. The reason I have not tried to bring my business idea to life before now was purely a self-doubt issue, but again its been my husband's gentle but persistent nudges that have made me start this project.
I really was clueless about EVERYTHING business related up until two months ago. I feel I've come a long way in a relatively short space of time. I have been greatly helped already by two organisations: Business Link and The Prince's Trust (TPT). I have been on a few courses (all free of charge!) courtesy of both organisations, and have really enjoyed them. More importantly I have been inspired to continue pursuing this very daunting task. I have to mention one of the workshops I attended through Business Link called 'Women and Enterprise'. I left feeling like I was on cloud nine, buzzing from it for hours! The leader was an inspirational woman called Mandie Holgate (founder of The Business Womans Network) she really treated us all with respect, no matter what our ideas were. She gave me so many fresh ideas and avenues to think about and research, together with the encouragement and added motivation I needed.
I feel really blessed to have the support of my friends and family, and now The Prince's Trust is also behind me. I approached them because i'd heard they give low interest business loans to people under 30 who are unemployed, or working less than 16 hours a week. They told me I had to attend a 4 day course called 'Exploring Enterprise'. It was so useful, I would recommend it to anyone thinking of starting their own business from scratch. They even provide a business mentor for us, who will be a retired business person, willing to give up time each month to meet with me and offer help and advice for the next two years! This is free too! If your circumstances are similar to mine and you're from Essex, and want to do a similar thing as me but don't know how to, then contact Anne Gredley from TPT. She's a little gem, full of business advice, and will be more than willing to help. I cannot praise TPT highly enough, they really do fabulous work and most of their staff are unpaid.
I have a meeting with the Mid Essex Enterprise Agency (MEEA) on Wednesday, so hopefully they will be another useful tool that can help 'Eat-n-Mess' become a reality.
I have much more to share, but it's getting late....