Always wanted to be your own boss, but feel frustrated because you can’t afford the overheads of renting your own premises? Or maybe you’ve thought of working from home but were afraid that it would infringe on your family life, or that your family life would distract you from business at hand.
The obvious compromise – more affordable than the one and less intrusive than the other – is a loft conversion: a space of your own where you can work in peace, yet literally close the door on it at the end of the day.
Of course, some occupations are better suited than others to self-employment, but if you want to strike out on your own, here are some businesses you can successfully run from a loft conversion, home extension or garden office, any of which we’d be happy to help you plan.
Of all businesses, hairdressing has more claim than most to being a ‘personal service’, and most salon based stylists have a loyal following of clients who ask for them by name. So if you’re setting up on your own you can probably count on bringing your core custom with you. You can build on that by giving them an incentive (a free cut and blow, say) for introducing a friend, or by linking up with a local wedding photographer (see below) who can share his contacts with you (and vice versa).
As far as the workspace is concerned you main fittings would be a large wall mirror, a salon wash unit and chair and ample storage for your salon products and equipment. Good natural lighting (ideally with multiple Velux windows) and plumbing is essential, but the outlay need be no more than you’d spend on converting your loft to a guest bedroom with ensuite.
There are snappers of every stripe: press, wedding, portrait, fashion, commercial and advertising photographers to name but a few. You’ll know which you are, but whatever your speciality, a studio is a must, especially if your clients come to you for a portrait sitting, fashion shoot or product photography. Even if you spend a good deal of your time out on location you’ll still need somewhere to serve as your digital dark room, a gallery space to show off your work, and secure storage space for your equipment.
Studio lights can get very hot, so good ventilation is important, and depending on the kind of photography you do, storage space for props will be a must, as will a galley / kitchenette if you’re into food photography. Add a desk and a filing cabinet and you’re ready for action. All in all it should set you back no more than setting up a standard home office.
If you want to bring out your inner Del Boy, you can wheel and deal in the relative comfort of your home as an E-bay or Amazon trader. Convert your loft and turn the clutter into cash, then source more stock from charity shops or car boot sales. Overheads compare very favourably with renting retail premises: expect to pay an E-bay subscription of £19.99 a month (rising to £59.99 for a featured shop) on top of which you pay a small percentage fee for each auction and sale. Good photography will make a big difference to the appeal and saleability of your goods, so think about engaging the services of a freelance photographer (see above).
In terms of workspace, your needs will be much the same as those for a small office, but if you’re going to grow your business significantly – perhaps by buying wholesale and selling retail – you’ll also need plenty of storage shelves for your stock.
Jewellery & Crafts
To do what you love and get paid for it is surely everyone’s ideal, and if you’re an arty-crafty type itching to give up the day job, converting your loft into a studio or workshop will take you half way to realising your ambition. E-bay (see above) is a popular outlet for craft based businesses (think greetings cards, soft toys, knitwear, jewellery and woodenware), as are craft fairs and centres at which you can either take a stall or rent out a display case.
The fit out of your workspace will obviously depend on the nature of your craft, but will almost certainly demand good natural lighting (think Velux windows), good ventilation (especially if you’re using paints and glues or working wood), and working surfaces that are easy to sweep or wipe clean (think Formica work tops and hardwood or lino floors).