In the latest issue of East Durham Business magazine, East Durham Business Service adviser Hina Joshi, who has been with the Peterlee-based organisation for almost 10 years, answers questions for the My Working Day feature.
Hina tells the magazine more about her role, which sees her helping budding entrepreneurs to pursue self-employment and established businesses continue to grow…
You’ve worked at East Durham Business Service for nearly 10 years now. Tell us more about your role?
I joined the organisation in 2011, having previously worked for the old Business Link. Group. I provide support and guidance to individuals that are looking to start their own business. This is from the early stages, where an individual is exploring business ideas and opportunities, to developing their business plan, market research and planning, financial planning and forecasting and getting them started in business.
What’s a typical day for you?
Speaking and meeting clients. Helping them through their business planning journey and ensuring they’ve covered all bases.
I do challenge clients throughout their journey. It’s their business, their plan and therefore they need to take ownership of this. This means me guiding them through the process, ensuring they’ve explored all ideas and opportunities and that their business idea is viable for them, particularly for the first year in business which is the toughest, but also beyond that.
I also deliver workshops on marketing, exploring things like strategic marketing planning, for example who are you customers, where are they, what are they looking for etc, along with a workshop on finance, for example manging the books. I deliver each workshop once a month. The day can also consist of catch up with new businesses that have recently started, ensuring that everything is going well for them, supporting them through the journey of self-employment and ensuring they’re managing their books OK.
How has the coronavirus pandemic affected your job?
The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way that I work. Initially from home, like the vast majority of office based workers, I was mainly doing telephone appointments. This was difficult at first, as trying to build a relationship with someone over the phone, gaining their trust with their ideas was very difficult. However, I have developed good relationships and am still in contact with individuals that we started during the pandemic. Now I’m 100 per cent back in the office, offering a mix of telephone and face to face appointments, leaving it up to client how they would like to work. I’m also now delivering workshops. Numbers are restricted to ensure social distancing but take up of these have been positive.
Has the pandemic had an effect on the number of people thinking about starting their own business?
No at all. To be honest I’ve been really busy throughout, probably more so than prior to the pandemic. It’s been a mixture of employed and unemployed individuals. A lot of people who were furloughed and considering their options. Also, there’s been a mixture of businesses from creatives, trades, online and ecommerce, training and consultancy.
What would you say to anyone thinking of starting their own business?
It’s definitely worth contacting EDBS or your local enterprise agency. You’re not making any commitments by speaking to us. We’re here to listen and guide your through the business planning process and explore if this is the right option or opportunity for you. Even if you’re thinking of a part-time or hobby business, we’re here to help and ensure that you do things right and to guide you through registering with HMRC, Tax, National Insurance Contributions, business expenses and everything else you need to be aware of and keep records of.