Case study

Starting a part-time business

Deciding I was ready to start my business - Ales By Mail (video)

Paul Kruzycki discovered an entrepreneurial streak while running a not-for-profit charity convention and he decided to set up his own venture. When he did, a cautious approach to the launch of his real-ale mail-order company, Ales By Mail, proved important in giving the business a sound start.

What I did

Research the business proposition fully

"I continued working full time as a building surveyor while I developed my business plan, built contacts and got my idea to a stage where I felt I could get it off the ground. I wanted to prove fully to myself that the business could work.

"I also knew that if I wanted to get finance to help me start up I would need to answer some tough questions such as who are your customers, where will you advertise and so on.

"I spent a lot of time talking to people in the industry and finding information on websites - seeing how other people were doing things, at what level and how differently."

Take the opportunity to work part-time to provide a financial buffer

"My research showed that Ales by Mail couldn't pay me a salary at first so I decided I needed to save at least six months' living expenses. Then an opportunity to work as a property consultant came up.

"I now do that two days a week and spend two days on Ales by Mail. On the fifth and sixth days I work on whatever needs doing most urgently.

"I'm building the business on a tight budget and am going for slow growth. My consultancy work allows me to take this approach."

Consider domestic circumstances

"I spent 18 months preparing to start the business. There were things that needed to be resolved before I gave up my job. For example, I needed to wait until my house had been refurbished so that I could work from home.

"I've had a lot of support from my wife. Knowing I can go to my family after a bad day and receive that support helps me remember that the decision I made was the right one."

What I'd do differently

Think about the impact of routine paperwork

"Before starting up I'd find out more about the organisational aspects of running a business. I underestimated the amount of time needed to deal with tax matters, chase up clients and do all the other bits of paperwork."