Page last updated at 21:49 GMT, Wednesday, 25 May 2005 22:49 UK

Can you afford to start your own firm?

Small change
Money can be tight in the first months of business

You have a cracking business idea that will make lots of money.

The trouble is, how do you cover your living expenses in the early days when you first have to build up your firm and the cash isn't yet coming in?

Without sufficient savings, you may have difficultly paying the mortgage and even putting food on the table.

Small business expert Liz Barclay looks at the dilemma of how you can afford to give up your day job in order to pursue your small business dream.

Chris Yelgeb, Wales
I have what could be some outstanding ideas for starting my own business. However, in the starting months I wouldn't earn enough money to cover my living expenses if I was to quit my current job.

I have thought about starting the business while continuing with my day job, but I wouldn't have the time to do both. How do people live while earning next to nothing as they start their business idea?

Liz Barclay, presenter of Radio Four's You and Yours programme
Many do what you are thinking of doing - keep on working until the business has grown enough to support them.

If you don't have time to do both, do you have a business partner with whom you could come to an arrangement that one works to pay both your bills while the other concentrates on building the business?

Another way is to go part time at work.

Employers can be quite understanding and it can suit them to have someone part time rather than losing their expertise altogether, unless your business is something that will take work away from your employer.

If that's not possible, do you do the kind of work you could carry on doing on a freelance basis?

You could reduce the amount of work you do as the business grows.

If none of those options work and you decide to commit yourself full time to the business, take all the advice you can get from Business Eye in Wales (a business support body run by the Welsh Development Agency) about starting up and growing the business, finding the finance through the banks or any loans and grants that might be available.

They'll be able to help with your business plans which you'll need for the bank or any other potential investors.

Call Business Eye on 08457 96 97 98, or use the web link on the right.

The biggest mistake many small business people make in the beginning is taking too much money out of the business to live on, so go through your living expenses with a fine tooth comb and avoid the urge to buy a new car and move to a bigger house until you're on a firm financial footing.

To ask Liz Barclay a small business question use the email form below.

Alternatively, you can email another member of our small business and entrepreneurship panel of experts by clicking on one of the links on the right.

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