I want to start my own soft play business for disabled children.
I’m studying a business plan and gaining confidence as time goes by, despite people trying to scare me off because I’m 61 and disabled. What do you think of an older woman trying to start her own business?
I work 7 days a week – I have no social life or partner and live with my adult autistic son. My work as a social worker gives me insight into what I want to set up.
Is it wrong of me to pursue my lifelong dream of starting my own business? Do you think I’m doing the right thing at my age?
My friend, who has a disabled son and has her own business, is ready to give me advice and my old boss is going to make me a website. I admit I’m slow, but I really enjoy it and I think I can make my business a success.
I want to start a soft play business for disabled children in my area – at 61 am I too old to pursue my dream? Dave Fishwick replies
Dave Fishwick, the business doctor of This Is Money, replies: This sounds like a great idea that has the potential to benefit disabled children, their families and carers and the community as a whole.
I think with the advantage of age comes a tremendous amount of wisdom. I had a woman named Mavis, in her early seventies, in my Minibus sales company. She was one of the most wonderful, honest, decent, ethical, moral and intelligent individuals you will ever meet, and her management skills were legendary.
At the Bank of Dave, I have seen many women take out loans to start new businesses and become very successful. I don’t see your age or the fact that you have a disability as a problem that should prevent you from starting this business.
However, it will definitely take on more responsibility and you have to be prepared for that.
You know your possibilities and limitations like no other. Given your circumstances, the fact that you still have the will and drive to do this suggests that you have a lot of determination and resilience.
However, we are all human and no one is indestructible. I think the more support you have in launching this project, the better the chance of success.
This can be more than just a business, and I don’t think money is your primary motivation for doing this. If this is the case, it might be best to approach this a little differently, such as setting it up on a non-profit basis.
If you start a non-profit or charitable organization, there will likely be a lot more willingness from locals to help and support the project. Whether volunteering for a few hours of their time or donating money, supplies or equipment, the people of this country are often very generous in their support of charities.
Nonprofit organizations can still pay wages and expenses, but profits must be reinvested in the business to continue benefiting the community. There are several legal structures that can be used.
The exact format that is most appropriate depends on several factors, such as the sources of income and the number of people involved and positions they hold.
Where business is competitive and trade secrets are closely guarded, the charitable sector is more of a community and you are more likely to find people willing to offer advice and support.
Talk to your municipality, relevant charities and support groups to see if they can help you. You may get a better deal on the property or get to use the council-owned property for free.
As a charity you may be entitled to reduced or zero rates and a large building needed for this type of business could help you.
I would recommend researching the number of disabled children in the area to assess the number of children likely to use the facilities.
If there are not enough disabled children in your area to support the surgery, you may want to consider offering a mixed-use facility rather than one that is only suitable for disabled children.
Alternatively, choosing a location with a larger catchment area or organizing transportation services may be necessary.
There will likely be significant upfront capital expenditure to convert the property to meet the needs of the children, and some funding may be available to help. I recommend exploring each avenue before investing your own money or taking out personal loans.
If you are going to rent a property as a business, it is normal to enter into a commercial lease, where you have to pay the rent for a fixed period, usually of several years, regardless of whether the business makes money or even if it stops. to trade. Therefore, if you decide to pursue this as a business, I would consider establishing a limited liability company rather than a sole proprietorship to protect your personal finances.
I love your idea and whichever route you choose, I wish you the best of luck.
Ask Dave Fishwick a business or career advice question
Self-made millionaire and entrepreneur Dave Fishwick is our new columnist who answers your questions about business and careers.
Dave runs a hugely successful minibus and vehicle business in Lancashire and rose to fame with his BAFTA-winning television series Bank of Dave, where he took on the big banks.
He is ready to answer any questions you may have, whether you own a business, are thinking about starting one, or have general career questions.
In his spare time he likes to give lectures to inspire people to get the best out of themselves.
A Netflix movie about Bank of Dave will air at the end of this year/early 2023 and he has been a friend of This is Money for ten years. He now wants to share some of his wisdom and advice with our readers.
If you would like to ask Dave a question please email him at email@example.com
Dave will do his best to answer your message in a future column, but he won’t be able to answer everyone or correspond privately with readers. Nothing in his answers constitutes regulated financial advice. Published questions are sometimes edited for brevity or other reasons.
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