Suffolk start-ups give tips on starting your own small business

Clare Forrest with her Botanical Forrest products

Clare Forrest with her Botanical Forrest products - Credit: Archant

Have you ever wanted to start a business of your own? For some, this year has given them the chance to do just that. 

Whether it is because they were laid off from their job due to the pandemic, or they found themselves with time on their hands during lockdown.

After a record number of redundancies in the three months to October, the Federation of Small Businesses expect even more people to take the leap next year.

Suzanne Pattinson is one of the people who started her own business this year.

She said: "I'd always wanted to start a business but lockdown was that push I needed to move forward and do it.

"I'd always kind of been distracted by my job, or life, or my children. But lockdown just gave me that focus to crack on and do it."

Mrs Pattinson now runs Soul Purpose Jewellery – selling silver jewellery that she makes in a spare bedroom in her Honnington home.

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Similarly, Clare Forrest started Botanical Forrest – her handmade candle brand – earlier this year after being made redundant in March.

"It's been amazing," she said. "It's been a very busy year but it's also been very fulfilling.

"When it's your own business and you've developed a brand and people are buying your product it really drives you to do more and grow it more."

Woodbridge-based Mrs Forrest worked in corporate marketing before starting Botanical Forrest and says that the skills she gained there have helped her in running the business.

But she said: "I would really ask anyone who wants to start a business to think about transferable skills they have. Because they may think they don't have all the necessary skills to start their own business but I bet they've got more than they realise from what they've done in their life already.

"If you feel passionate enough about something and you believe in it that will more or less be enough to drive you on and take you through because other people will feel that.

"But I think my biggest tip would be, don't do it alone. There's so much help out there.

"Particularly in Norfolk and Suffolk with organisations such as MENTA, New Anglia Growth Hub – there's so many organisations that can help you with skills that you need or to just sort of spur you on to take that plunge."

Mrs Pattinson said anyone thinking of starting up a new business should begin by weighing up the risk.

"If you're a risk-averse person you're going to have different challenges," she said. "But I think ultimately, if it's something that feel deep inside is going to be something that you're passionate enough to put the hours in and be happy to do that then there's no reason why you can't.

"You really need to put the hours in, you just have to really go for it. No holding back.

"When you start a business you tend to read a lot. You need to immerse yourself in all areas of the business. But just take yourself a little bit out of the business that you're doing and just think about if you were a customer, how would that look and feel to you.

"Anybody out there can upskill and learn these things. There's plenty out there to read up on."

Research undertaken by this newspaper as part of our Shop Local campaign found that 40% of businesses in East Anglia do not have an online presence meaning that many may have been unable to trade throughout the disruptions of this year.

However, both Botanical Forrest and Soul Purpose Jewellery have strong online presences contributing to their success so far.

"I'd never really done anything to do with websites before," said Mrs Pattinson. "So that was something I had to teach myself before doing it. That wasn't something that came sort of naturally to me.

"But now a lot of my sales come through social media as well."