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Your Own Business - setting up and keeping going

Should you be in a situation where the customer brings the item needing attention to you, think about levying an up-front inspection fee. This covers you when the problem either seems to have fixed itself in transit, or wasn't a fault at all and was just the owner's ignorance of some simple operational procedure that they had failed to follow. In this situation, the fee is just your safeguard against wasted time; however, should the job turn out to be a genuine repair, whatever has been already paid can be deducted from the final cost. Make sure your customers know this.

One last thing. Goods left with you for servicing only make you money if the client actually collects them and pays the bill. But what if they don't? Find out your legal obligations before this happens. You may have to sell-off the item to recoup some of your costs, and you need to know your legal rights and the correct protocol to follow to avoid future litigation.

Insurance - it's the bane of everyone's life, but in business you can't afford to be without some kind. If your operations-base is a small office or factory, both building and contents, in particular stock, need covering. So too the van, or car and trailer if your service is mobile. Perhaps the most important aspect is public liability. If anything goes awry, property lost or damaged, or a person is injured and the responsibility can be pinned on you, it probably will be; and some claims, exaggerated or not, can run into millions and will have to be defended. Pay a reliable insurance company to take care of it and, like your other overheads, allow for the fee in your costing.

These are just some of the issues confronting anyone thinking of starting up their own business. There are many more not mentioned here that are bound to crop up along the way. As long as you are aware that they can, and you have prepared for that possibility, you can look forward to a stimulating and exciting experience, hopefully a profitable one.

There remains one fast-growing industry that is becoming very popular for individuals to dabble in, that being setting up an on-line business. This is something that needs discussing separately, so I will be looking at the Internet market place in the next issue.

Next issue:   Your Own On-line Business - Can you build it? Yes, you can!

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