I’m a little useless at catching up with the news, never mind catching it in the first place. My brain is constantly absorbed in other things which leads to a heavy mocking of my poor knowledge of current affairs. Brain has gradually reacclimatised itself after being banned from listening to Radio One (apparently I’m too old for the young, hip tunes of the not-so-noughties) and has found the informational, yet entertaining, ‘Grown Up’ stations a refreshing change. It would appear that beyond my bubble, there is in fact an actual world where things often occur. Who knew? I have also realised that there is an uncomfortably large proportion of said world that seems to want to foist its ill-advised, and often cretinous, views onto unsuspecting listeners during lunch time phone-in shows.
However, today, I caught the tale end of conversations that pricked my interest. The government have taken steps once tread by Britain’s arch-nemesis, The Thatcherator, to actually do something that sounds productive and, more importantly, promising. I may have my heavy reservations about the predominantly Conservative angle our authorities currently stand at, but to be honest, the world surely couldn’t be in any more of a mess. Measures certainly do need to be taken and I for one am not adverse to new, or old, ideas that could rejuvenate the fortunes of many. Today’s inserted knowledge of the Tory Government’s New Enterprise Allowance, not only made me feel the first shards of respect towards the coalition but also got my brain a-twitching the whole drive home. Which incidentally prevented any other seeds of newsworthy knowledge from being planted.
The idea is, in theory, a good one. To lower unemployment and to get the economy rolling a little better (Does anyone know how exactly an economy is supposed to roll? I have often pondered this point.) you encourage entrepreneurial spirit, you push people who have been teetering on the edge of dream fulfilment into a self-employed situation. The NEA looks to secure people’s unemployment benefit while they ‘kick start’ (to borrow a Thatcherite phrase) their own business, with the added bonus of a potential £2000, access to a business loan and an expert business mentor to help during those vital early stages. Now there are bound to be rules, regulations, sanctions and say-sos that have to be followed. I don’t know how likely it is to be awarded such a package, or indeed how useful it will in reality be, but its an initiative worthy of a little praise.
So yeah, the old grey cells got to thinking – what business could I start up?! One of the commenters on today’s show ruined all potential disregard for the subject on announcing that he used his allowance in the 70s (I believe) to become a freelance journalist; he used his start up loan to create a writing job for himself following his crash and burn in the printing industry. Another lady used her start up from the same era to promote her catering business which now turns over something like £56 million pa. Surely, surely, I can do that?! Obviously not the catering bit, I’m not the most entrepreneurial cook, but perhaps there is a writing business in there that I could cook up? Something I could enjoy doing so that I could finance my book writing in a more productive way?
I am clearly not being entirely serious. To begin your own business is a terribly hard thing with a huge amount of dedication, time and money ploughed into it. And even after all this and a few years of blood, sweat and tears, there is nothing to say that it would be a success. My fleeting fancies would never be enough to provide a living on top of the time I would require to become a world famous author! Like many, I would love to own a book shop; a quaint little place filled with comfy arm chairs and quiet corners, a place that puts those giant establishments to shame. A place filled with a towering labyrinth of book shelves and curios in which one could happily get lost for days. A book shop obviously from which I could sell my crafted and knitted goods along with stationary products. And cakes. It would sell cakes and tea and possibly other light refreshments made by myself and more talented cooking friends. I think it would also require a haberdashery out back to sell knitting and sewing equipment as well as the shiny pretties that so many crafty ladies (and gents) like. And possibly a writing den with free wi-fi for all those budding authors who just need a quiet place to go. Clearly achievable.
My main issue, if there is such a thing, with anything like this which requires a certain work ethic, is focus. I have a distinct lack of it at times, but not necessarily in a negative way. I become a little too enthusiastic and imaginative – I want everything in one place, and everything now. My business plan would be only a mere step away from including an adult only ball pool (come on, who wouldn’t want a go in one?) or perhaps an antiques-slash-art-gallery in one of my building’s many wings! Not so small and quaint any more – oh, did I also mention that it would require a moorland back drop from which I could organise walking/photographic tours? I may have the ideas to begin with but I lack the necessary skills to see it through, such as a reasonable assertion as to how I expect to make actual money.
However, there is nothing wrong with pipe dreams if you have drive and motivation to attempt to see them through. It helps if you can focus on something specific, which I am promising myself I shall improve upon in this new year. I WILL organise my time more effectively and will continue to create in words beings that shall hopefully, one day, be immortalised in print. The silly shop idea is just that, and not something I ever intend to become a reality despite the cosiness that fills the idea. Besides, I would have to be claiming Job Seeker’s for at least six months to qualify for the NEA.
But please, make sure friends know about this scheme, that they know an opportunity may be lingering. The NEA should be rolled out nationally by Autumn which means any currently employed friends who want a business ‘kick start’ need to hand their notice in around about now so as to qualify! How well it will work remains to be seen, but a little more financial aid in times such as these is definitely a bonus.