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Self-employed debt advice

Starting a business. Useful resources for the self-employed.

Being self-employed is an adventure and a challenge.

This page has tips for the self-employed new businesses.

Build a business plan

Before anything else, you need a solid business plan and budget.

A realistic business plan is vital for:

  • Securing investors
  • Getting a loan
  • Meeting suppliers
  • Attracting customers

A business plan is a written document that explains what you do and what your goals are.

It should include:

  • Your objective: What does your business provide?
  • Your strategy: What's your long term aim for the business?
  • Marketing tactics: How will you get customers?
  • Your financial forecast:

    • What do you expect to earn?
    • How will you pay for the business?
    • How will this change over time?

Writing a business plan helps you focus what you want your business to be. It also helps you spot any potential problems.

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What are your business objectives?

What do you want and why?

Your business objectives should be based on:

Your background

  • How long have you been thinking about your business?
  • What experience do you have in the industry/sector?
  • How have you prepared?

Your service

  • What are you offering?
  • Are there similar businesses? What makes yours different?
  • Who is your target audience? (Age, income, habits, etc.)

Make your objectives easy to read. You want anyone to understand them. (Like bank managers or investors)

Your business strategy

Every business has a strategy.

This gives you a goal to think about whenever you make a business decision.

Including strategy in your business plan helps readers see what you want and how you plan to get there.

The strategy and overall goal will be specific to your business.

Financial forecasts

This is what you expect your business to spend and earn.

Your financial forecast should include:


  • How much will your service or product cost?
  • How does that compare to similar products or services in your area?

Upfront costs:

  • How are you going to cover the initial start-up costs?
  • Will you need a bank loan?
  • Are you using savings?

Profits and losses:

  • What will you spend in the next few years?
  • What will you earn?

Make these figures realistic.

Creating a business budget

A realistic budget helps keep track of spending.

This helps you:

  • Work out what your costs are
  • Identify areas for savings
  • Find ways to increase profit

4 simple steps to build your business budget:

  1. Decide what timeframe your budget covers.
  2. This is usually done by calendar month, but you could make it weekly or daily if more helpful.

    Remember: 4 weeks does not equal a calendar month.

    To change a weekly figure into a 'calendar month’ figure:

    • Take the weekly figure and times this by 52 (the number of weeks in the year)
    • Divide this by 12 (the number of months in the year)
    • Weekly to monthly calculation
  3. Write down all your business related costs
  4. Things like:
    • Petrol
    • Telephone bills
    • Stock
    • Marketing
    • Staff
  5. Create a business budget template.
  6. You can find ready built ones online.

    Download one and fillin your costs

  7. Track what you spend.
  8. You may find you spend more or less than you budgeted for.

    Update your budget with actual costs after a couple of months.

Dealing with business debts

Setting up a new business is difficult and expensive.

If you are struggling to manage your business budget, unexpected costs or personal debts, please contact:

England, Wales or Scotland

Business Debtline0800 197 6026.

They’re open Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm.

They offer specialist advice about:

  • Tax implications
  • Court proceedings
  • Business Liabilities

They can also help with any personal debts you have.

Northern Ireland

Please contactAdvice NI. You can call them on 0800 083 8018, Monday to Friday 9.30am to 5.30pm.

They offer free and impartial advice for sole traders, partnerships and limited companies.

Our self-employed debt advice page has more information on managing business costs including:

  • Payments
  • Tax, VAT and National Insurance (NI)