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Annabella is the graduate entrepreneur founder of http://www.bedandfed.co.uk/">Bed and Fed, a directory of B&Bs. She has some really useful advice based on what she has learned so far. Best of luck with everything and thanks for sharing your experiences with Esc!
I am running http://www.bedandfed.co.uk/">Bed and Fed, an online directory of informal, affordable, 'home-away-from-home' dinner bed & breakfasts all over the UK and Ireland. This takes a lot more than you think! The admin involved in running a website is sizeable.
On top of this, because it is a startup, I also do all the PR myself which is a challenge but also quite exciting at the same time when you get results! I also design the site and make the films on there.
Before this I was a student at Durham, then travelled and worked in theatre and film.
I have wanted to run my own company for a long time. I thought of this particular idea while I was at uni but it took a long time to get around to getting the site made.
I talked about it a lot with all sorts of people and took some business courses with http://www.bgateway.com/">Business Gateway which were very useful.
The moment of truth was probably when my neighbour said, "why don't you just do it and see what happens instead of talking about it?!"
Can't say I did a huge amount of planning - have learnt an awful lot along the way as the business has developed. I have certainly made mistakes, but I ask anyone and everyone for advice (not just people in business) and learn along the way.
Financially, it was initially using savings from work I had done in catering.
Hardest part: Actually getting the site working! This was very difficult and there were many technical problems but it's now all fixed!
Best part: Job satisfaction! Instead of just talking about the idea, people can now actually go to the website and view the 100s of bed&fed places to stay!
ASK FOR ADVICE!!!
Really ask anyone and everyone - the man on the bus might have a good idea or your friend's younger brother - anyone and everyone!
Also BE ADAPTABLE - businesses do change and adapt all the time - be flexible.
Employ a good web developer from the start.