Starting your own business

Whatever your career option, you may want to work for yourself. The decision to become self-employed is a big step, especially if you're close to retirement. Plenty of advice is available and you can get help with planning, training courses and funding.

Your options

There are different ways of being self-employed:

  • as a sole trader, working alone
  • in a partnership with two or more people
  • as a limited company where the business has a separate identity
  • own a franchise of a business that is already set up

Starting up

Starting a new business can be exciting and rewarding, but it is also full of challenges. With commitment, drive, perseverance and support from family and friends you can transform your business idea into reality. Think about what being self-employed will mean to you and consider some possible advantages and disadvantages:

The benefits

Advantages of being self-employed include:

  • you are your own boss
  • being able to make your own decisions
  • flexibility around your working days and hours
  • self-fulfilment, making full use of your experience, talents and abilities
  • financial independence

The challenges

Disadvantages of running your own business include:

  • no guaranteed, regular income
  • needing funding for start-up costs
  • working long hours to suit your business needs
  • no holiday or sick pay and no pension
  • sorting out payment of your own tax accounts

First steps to self-employment

You will have to research and develop your business idea. You will need to think about:

  • what services or products you will sell
  • whether people will want your product or service
  • how you will fund your business
  • laws and regulations you will have to follow

Then you must prepare a business plan that reflects what you need to do to set up and run the business.

Support available

There are a number of programmes and initiatives available that offer financial help and advice.

Regional Start Initiative

The Regional Start Initiative is a tailored business start-up package that offers advice and support designed to help you start your own business. It's free and available throughout Northern Ireland. Follow the link below to see what support is available and get details of where you can get help locally.

The Enterprise Programme

The Enterprise programme, run by the Prince’s Trust, helps young people interested in self employment to explore and test their ideas, write plans and start their own businesses, or achieve alternative outcomes in education, training, volunteering or work.

Advantage NI

Advantage NI works with clients in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors to promote starting a business as a realistic and viable career option to young people aged 16-30. It offers individual, tailored information, advice and guidance on starting, running and growing a business.

Enterprise Northern Ireland

If you are thinking of starting a business, Enterprise Northern Ireland will provide training, business loans and premises for start up businesses.

Go For It programme

Go For It offers advice and guidance to help you produce your own business plan and register for self-employment.

It is delivered free of charge by your Local Council through Northern Ireland’s wide network of experienced business mentors.

As part of the programme, you will receive:

  • a one-to-one assessment meeting with your local business advisor
  • a finance and business planning workshop
  • a one-to-one finance and business planning meeting
  • tailored guidance to develop your business plan
  • best practice guides, tools, videos and more to help you get started

To find out more about the Go For It programme, visit Go For It or call  0800 027 0639.

Shell LiveWIRE

This organisation helps 16 to 30 year olds to start and develop their own business and hosts a national competition for new business start-ups.

Working after State Pension age

If you are still in paid work when you receive your State Pension, you will have to pay tax on it.  For more information, contact your local pension office.

More useful links

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