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By Freddie Miller, founder of HelpingU2Save.

Increasing numbers of people are taking their employment into their own hands and starting up small businesses. From part-time crafting to more intensive full time businesses, it’s not surprising that many are hoping to gain some control in these uncertain times.

I was one of those looking to gain not only freedom from the 9-5 employment but to gain control of my own employment and to do so I turned an idea into a small business. Along the way I have found that advice from people who have been through the same experience has been invaluable and, as such, here is some of my own for anyone in those first early weeks.

Don’t underestimate the time it takes

In the long run, we’re all looking for greater amounts of freedom and a chance to choose when we work and how. However, for quite a sometime, the start-up will likely take up a huge amount of your time, with much longer hours needed to get it off the ground.

Building a customer base is absolutely essential and it takes a great amount of time and dedication to show that your company is the one for them. Customer service has always been important, but customers look for the added personal touch from SMEs and that takes time and dedication.

Likewise, watching competitors and the market on a whole is vital for staying ahead of the game. Take your finger off the pulse for the shortest amount of time and you’ll simply fade into obscurity. Be prepared for some very early mornings and even later nights!

Sometimes the easy route is the best

It’s a common saying that, if something seems too good to be true, it usually is. While this is very often the case, there are certain exceptions. I always imagined that the only way to stand out in the market was to be unique and run an independent store, but I completely underestimated how a store in an online marketplace could save a huge amount of time and money.

I understand the unwillingness to line the pockets of massive corperations, especially when money is so tight at the start, but very quickly you’ll see that that small investment is truly worth it in lots of different ways.

Sites such as eBay allow you to create a professional looking space with a very small amount of effort, allowing you to start trading quickly. Likewise, the reviews systems most of these marketplaces offer are invaluable in starting up as consumers have learnt to trust what their peers are saying.

Don’t take your home space for granted

Chances are that you are setting up your business from your family home. While the idea of working from home may seem fantastic at first, you will probably find some unexpected problems arise from the most unlikely of places.

Distractions are common, but even worse is the trouble of establishing boundaries for yourself. I learnt very quickly the importance of drawing a line between work and personal life and the vitality in not blurring those lines wherever possible.